Administrative professionals across Marshall County were honored in celebration of Administrative Professionals Day, but one executive assistant stood out above the rest.

During the Albertville Chamber of Commerce’s Administrative Professionals Day luncheon, Holleigh Gilbreath, executive assistant at Progress Rail, was chosen as Administrative Professional of the Year. She was nominated by her boss, Billy Ainsworth, who is group president with Caterpillar, Inc. at Progress Rail.

When asked why he believed Gilbreath should be chosen as the Albertville Chamber of Commerce Administrative Professional of the Year, Ainsworth described Gilbreath as a “hard-worker, servant leader and team player.”

“She leads by example with the administrative professionals at Progress Rail,” Ainsworth said. “Her coworkers and senior leadership, both at Progress Rail and Caterpillar, trust her and have a high level of confidence in her work.”

According to Ainsworth, Gilbreath exemplifies the company’s “values in action of integrity, excellence, teamwork, commitment and sustainability.” He said they strive to live their values daily at Progress Rail, and Gilbreath does this both in and outside of the workplace. He said she manages his office, assuring coordination of activities and information, and contributing to the efficient use of his time by relieving him of those administrative details.

“Her role requires her to work in a fast paced, highly visible environment while managing many details, keeping up with continual changes in events, levels of responsibilities, expectations and technology,” Ainsworth said. “Holleigh performs a multitude of highly complex administrative duties with a high degree of accountability, enabling me to devote additional time to my management responsibilities. She uses her broad professional knowledge and experience of administrative functions, expertise in company policy, and overall knowledge of the Caterpillar organization to support me in my daily work.”

Ainsworth said Gilbreath follows up on deadlines, communicates efficiently and effectively with colleagues and others inside and outside the company, and researches, gathers and analyzes a vast array of information to decide the proper course of action in a timely manner.

“She uses discretion, judgment and initiative to continue the work responsibilities of the office when I am unavailable,” Ainsworth said. “She conducts all aspects of her job with the appropriate level of confidentiality and sensitivity to employee, leader, customer requests, issues or concerns. Holleigh shows attention to detail and follow through on the various issues that come into my office. She is quick to respond to our customers and her fellow employees anytime they need her assistance.”

Gilbreath spends most of her time managing office activities and providing advanced, comprehensive executive support to Ainsworth, in his role as a group president, he said. But, when she is not at work, she has been the primary caretaker for her aging parents, taking them to doctor visits and helping on their farm, he said. Also, she helps with her niece by taking her to school-related activities and church events.

“She devotes a majority of her time focusing on others rather than on herself, which is the true meaning of servant leadership, and one of the reasons I believe she is so deserving of this award,” Ainsworth said.

Not only does Gilbreath work hard at her job, but she gives back to her community. According to Ainsworth, Gilbreath is on the board for “Christmas for Kids,” which is a Progress Rail charity, and she volunteers at the company’s annual golf tournament. He said the “Christmas for Kids” charity provides day-to-day necessities and Christmas gifts for children in need through the Marshall County Christmas Coalition and at Big Oak Ranch. He said she is also a supporter of United Way of Marshall County, Shepherd’s Cove Hospice and Real Life Pregnancy Center.

Gilbreath said she was surprised to receive the award.

“I was so honored to be nominated and receive this award,” Gilbreath said. “We have a great team, and I’ve been proud over the years to support a leader like Billy Ainsworth and work for a company like Progress Rail.”

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