2018 Pinnacle Awards: Executive Assistant of the Year Maria Cornell

 

She is a scheduling and planning marvel who “exudes executive presence” and “truly is the glue that holds us all together,” executives at CGI Federal say of Maria Cornell.

Cornell, executive assistant to CGI Federal’s president and other VIPs at the company, routinely choreographs complicated executive travel plans flawlessly and schedules already jam-packed calendars with ease. Cornell pulls off over two dozen major meetings a year without a hitch and the 20-year veteran of the company mentors other executive assistants.

For those efforts, Cornell was awarded the EA of the Year as part of the 2018 Pinnacle Awards in a Nov. 1 ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner.

“Maria has been supporting her team at CGI for over 20 years,” one company executive wrote in her nomination. “She is a true professional always going above and beyond to get things done. She is also a wonderful resource and true friend to her fellow EAs in the industry, always making herself available to lend a hand and offer her support.

As EA to the president, Cornell coordinates scheduling and logistics for 12 leadership cabinet meetings a year, 12 operational meetings a year and at least one major strategic planning event held off-site per year — “all of which get scheduled, planned and executive flawlessly,” one executive says.

As if that weren’t enough, Cornell also supports three other executives as their EA — in very different roles. In addition to her role as EA to the president, Cornell also supports the senior vice president in the health care space, the vice president of HR and the vice president of operations.

“Her ability to multitask and balance the demands of each leader is something I have never seen,” one executive says.

Among the most challenging and intricate tasks Cornell performs with aplomb is coordinating and executives’ often-complicated travel plans. She is recognized as the “super user and expert” of the company’s travel system, arranging and scheduling more than 200 trips a year, many of them international trips that can span several time zones.

Not to mention managing and “deconflicting” appointments and meetings across numerous VP and SVP calendars.

Because of Cornell’s work, “the leadership team functions as a well-oiled machine,” according to her nomination. “If something unexpectedly arises, whether an issue with calendars, locations, or vendors, Maria handles it without fanfare.”

Cornell solves the problems before most are even aware there was ever an issue at all, executives say.

The 2018 Pinnacle Awards, which honor leaders and influencers in the GovCon space, were presented by WashingtonExec on Nov. 1.

Winners were named from list of 50 finalists across 13 categories. In the Executive Assistant of the Year category, five EAs from public companies and four EAs from private companies were awarded the top honor.

See the full list of winners.

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