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Office Manager

What does an Office Manager do?

Bureau or office managers organise and supervise a company’s day-to-day functions, including administrative systems and office personnel, which facilitate the smooth running of an office. They may make the bank deposits, sign company checks, handle payroll, order supplies, hire and manage staff, and interact with customers, vendors and suppliers. The office manager may also assign departmental resources to projects and assist with scheduling for company executives. An office manager carries out a range of administrative and IT-related tasks, depending on the employing organisation, and the work may vary from running the administrative side of a small employer’s business as a sole administrator to overseeing the office work of numerous staff. Although the work of an office manager differs greatly across organisations, they all have the responsibility of ensuring that their office runs efficiently.



What qualifications do I need?

The requirements for most office managers include tertiary education and practical experience. The first step is to study for a diploma or bachelor’s degree in business administration or office management. A National Senior Certificate that meets the requirements for a diploma or degree course is a prerequisite to these courses. A Chartered Institute of Secretaries Diploma is a very useful course to study for this type of career choice. Some office managers are promoted from accounting, bookkeeping or secretarial positions, and gain skills on the job.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Mathematics
• Business Studies
• Economics
• Accounting
• Design


Where can I study?

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Bachelor of Administration

North-West University
Bachelor of Administration

Bachelor of Administration; Bachelor of Technology: Business Administration

University of KwaZulu-Natal
Bachelor of Administration

University of the Free State
Bachelor of Administration

University of the Western Cape
Bachelor of Administration

Durban University of Technology
Bachelor of Technology: Office Management and Technology

Cape Peninsula University of Technology
National Diploma: Office Management and Technology

Tshwane University of Technology
National Diploma: Office Management and Technology

Boston College
National Diploma: Office Management

Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
Office Management Certification Programme

Institute of Business Management
Various Courses

Sanyanqoba FET College
National Certificate: Office Management

Professional Receptionist and Personal Assistant Course

ICESA City Campus
Certificate: Accounting and Business Administration

Where can I get more info?

Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa – www.sacob.com
Institute of Accounting and Commerce – www.iacsa.co.za


Interview with an Office Manager

Marlene Pillay | ACCOUNTANT AND BUREAU MANAGER | CNN, Johannesburg Bureau

Marlene Pillay | ACCOUNTANT AND BUREAU MANAGER | CNN, Johannesburg Bureau


Why did you choose this profession? My favourite subjects in school were Mathematics, Accountancy and Biology. We tend to excel at the things we enjoy doing so I kind of knew that I would be crunching figures for a living. Either that or living out my parents’ dream of me becoming a nurse!

What training did you undergo?
I completed Practical Accounting & Accounting I & II at Damelin. I have also completed various accounting-related refresher courses since then.

What is it that you do?
My primary task is that of being the accountant, and all related financial responsibilities. I must make sure all suppliers are paid timeously. I’m always on the lookout for competitive pricing for services. The second half of my job title means that the entire admin responsibility falls under my portfolio: anything from arranging a driver, to following up on travel arrangements with the travel agent to arranging visas at very short notice. I am faced with anything that needs to be done to ensure the bureau runs smoothly and the staff have the resources to function efficiently.

Favourite parts…
I will NEVER be bored. I enjoy the fact that I have no idea what my day will be like and that I must always be prepared to face the challenge as it surfaces.

Anything you don’t like?
I often find myself in a situation where I am unable to finalise a job because I need third party input. This becomes really frustrating for me, but like everything else, I find ways to work around it.

Career highlight?
I have to mention the bureau’s month-long coverage of the 2010 Soccer World Cup as an event all of us will remember. It was really hard work for all concerned, the logistics proved to be a nightmare. The coverage was brilliant.

Your future goals?
I want to complete my BCom Degree. Also our bureau is growing at a very healthy pace and a growing office comes with the obvious growth in admin. I am working on streamlining processes to ensure smooth operation.

Experience or training?
Experience is definitely more important than formal training. No amount of training can ever teach you about handling stress, having patience when you feel like you don’t have any, and being tolerant under very tense conditions. I have learnt a great deal from our Bureau Chief, who has been in the industry for over 25 years.

What defines a ‘good’ accountant?
You must be very flexible. Also, irrespective of what position you hold in an office, all levels of respect are very important. There are some situations that require me to play hard ball.

Advice for newcomers?
Be prepared for hard work. You have got to accept that you win some and you lose some, but you must never lose sight of what your purpose is. Always do your best.