I work in Human Resources in a non-HR function. I am the Executive Assistant to a Senior Vice President in this financial services giant I work for. While I am known as one of the higher paid assistants around (and I am), the company gets its money’s worth out of me and much more.
I am, what my peers in the field of Development Studies in UP call, underemployed. I have a JD tucked under my arm although I am shy of a dissertation before completing the Juris Doctor program of the Ateneo School of Law. I managed to convince the Supreme Court of the Philippines to allow me to take the Bar Examinations of 1995 without completing the Juris Doctor requirement of a thesis defense, because the Philippine Rules of Court does not require a JD to be allowed to take the Bar Exam. It lists a slew of legal subjects that needed to be completed which I had successfully done. And pass the Philippine Bar, I did.
So you have a Juris Doctor level senior executive assistant. My pay grade? A decent paralegal’s salary. Naturally, the people around here only see me as an assistant to their boss. They do not know that I have a JD. They do not know my legal background. Many of them are even unaware that I worked with the Asian offices of two other financial services giants in the life insurance industry, one of which is another bigwig here in the United States.
Last week, in the midst of contract negotiations for a job offer for a senior post, I was neck deep in completing the offer package which, besides the customary sheet of figures, actually had an offer letter which was contractual in nature. The generalist in charge of the offer made an offhand comment that I seemed to have quite a good grasp of contracts because I knew better than to change the wording of a date specified in the letter which impacts on the efficacy of the offer. She did not say it but I knew she meant that I seemed to know more than what one would expect of a mere executive assistant. (Then again, she didn’t know about the JD.)
I let the comment pass without giving her my background. I had taken the time to explain why I know what I know to others before and it didn’t matter an iota at all. She would be the last person I would try to impress as her condenscending tone has affected not only me but many of my colleagues here as well.
I didn’t have to let her know that in a previous life, I was regarded better than she would’ve been, had we been in a different setting.