From the time she was barely out of her teens, working as a registrar for a hospital and a secretary for an insurance office in Long Island, N.Y., Carol Marino knew she loved secretarial work. Organized and helpful by nature, she felt like she found her calling.
“I just like the idea of it,” Carol said. “I liked working in an office, answering phones, having my own desk and computer.”
But it wasn’t until she came to Tampa International Airport to work as an administrative assistant for Police Chief Paul Sireci in 2003 that she realized how important her role really was. Sireci held her to the same high standards of loyalty and honor as he did his officers, and he trusted her to handle confidential information and help keep his schedule and priorities in order.
“He was really my first true career mentor,” Carol said. “Looking back, I now realize how much he trusted me and it means a lot.”
After eight years working for the Chief, Carol was asked to bring her administrative expertise to the executive team, where she has been an assistant to CEO Joe Lopano, VP of Operations John Tiliacos and Assistant VP of Media and Government Relations Janet Zink for the past few years. Her success in juggling hectic schedules, planning town hall meetings, handling sensitive information, keeping contacts and emails organized, creating presentations and various other duties has earned her praise both in and out of the office.
Last month, Carol was named Administrative Professional of the Year by the local chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Tiliacos helped nominate her, saying, “My Executive Assistant demonstrates flexibility, commitment and operates with a sense of urgency in her tasks and work assignments. … She has a high level of self-confidence and is key to the success of our organization.”
She joined the IAAP a couple of years ago after Lopano encouraged her to find more networking and learning opportunities. She has loved getting to know other administrative assistants from large companies and government offices. She serves as the Chair of the Membership Committee and co-chairs the Community Events Committee.
The group has also inspired her to gain new skills. She recently joined Toastmasters to improve her public speaking abilities. An avid reader, she is now deep into a book called Innovative Admin, which is all about how to be a better, more creative administrative professional.
Carol’s life isn’t all work. She is, as she puts it, blissfully married to her husband, Anthony, of 13 years, whom she met on a co-ed softball league when she lived in Long Island. The two moved down to Florida shortly after getting married to escape the cold.
“I didn’t want to be an old lady scraping snow off my car, or an old lady shoveling snow off the sidewalk,” said Carol, who grew up in New Orleans.
Carol does plenty to keep herself young. She loves bowling and belongs to a league that meets every week. She recently bowled a game with five strikes in a row, and has won the women’s high series at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority employee bowling tournaments.
Her 6-year-old son, Driston, also keeps her on her toes. He is “the light of our lives,” she said, and she and her husband take him to Disney World at least twice a month to spend weekends at the theme park.
“It’s our favorite thing to do,” Carol said. “My husband and I both work so much, it’s a great place to go and unwind as a family.”
Driston ran with Carol in the first Tampa International Airport Runway 5K last year. He also belongs to his own little bowling league … just like his mother.