MFA President Becomes an Admin for a Day

Author: Steven P. Taylor, PE Published: April 20, 2021

On Friday, April 16, 2021, I had the opportunity to work as an administrative teammate. I was told to be on-site in our Portland office at 8:00 a.m., bring a mask, and remember social distancing requirements. I decided to get to the office a little early so I could get set up, but when I arrived, I found that my administrative coworkers were already there, hard at work. Not only did they have to get their regular work done, but someone in marketing thought this would be fun, so they also had to come up with tasks for me to get the full administrative experience. I quickly realized I may not be that much help.

My first assignment was to ship boxes of baby wipes to recent MFA parents. I had to find boxes to ship them in and create the labels using our UPS account. No problem, except how do I access our UPS account? With a few tries, I had the labels printed and the boxes ready to go. Mission accomplished.

My next assignment was supposed to be to set up a fake FTP site. Then a real request came in, and it was time for me to get in the show. I said, “I’ll call Digiwest and get this set up.” I was then informed that our administrative staff set up FTP sites. First, I find out that they are experts at shipping and now IT technicians as well. With me fumbling through a multistep process with Shannon’s guidance, I had the FTP site set up and the files transferred so that Lisa Pritzl could be the hero for her client, while we administrative coworkers toiled in the background.

Next a production request. I had the file; it was senior reviewed, and I was ready to hit print. That’s when Linda said, “You can’t just hit print.” I could see the pdf in front of me, I could see the print button, and it was so tempting.

Alas, documents have to be printed in portions, because they need to go on different kinds of paper, and the portions aren’t necessarily in the same order. I printed the first section after multiple iterations of trying to select the correct pages with Linda probably thinking, “How did this man become president of the company?”

A phone call came in that I had to take, and Linda said, “Take your call, I’ll go ahead and print the rest.”

I was so relieved. After my call, we three-hole-punched the document and put it in a binder. You’re welcome, Brian Tino.

I was given access to the final directory for a day so I could finalize documents. The power that I felt, and the fear of messing something up was the yin and the yang for the day. I only got to finalize one real document, a work order for David Weatherby. I did most of this on my own, so I am still a little worried that something might be amiss.

Tiana Black had me set up a Zoom meeting, which I thought would be easy as I set up Teams meetings all the time, but of course I underestimated the level of effort. This was a real Zoom meeting, with options, like no host, no waiting room, making sure the Zoom room is available, and those were just the basic options.

The rest of my day included watering the plants, finalizing a resume for a (pretend) new GIS Technician named Alfred E. Newman, getting the mail, delivering the mail, greeting the UPS guy, and forgetting to give the UPS guy the packages I had boxed up earlier.



I want to thank Shannon, Tiana, and Linda for taking time out of their days to make sure I didn’t mess anything up, and Anne for a true MAD magazine–worthy resume.

I want to thank the entire administrative team for all that they do, every day. I didn’t realize the wide variety of tasks that each of these professionals must take on each and every day to make sure that we all deliver outstanding service to our clients. Thank you!

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Steven P. Taylor, PE

President/Principal Engineer

(503) 501-5201