What is Secretary? Types of secretary

The word ‘secretary’ has been originated from the Latin word ‘Secretarious’ which means ‘a person entrusted with a secret’ or ‘keeper of secrets. The dictionary meaning of the word Secretary is ‘one employed to write or transact business.’ Therefore, by the term ‘secretary’, we mean an officer who is generally entrusted with the responsibilities of writing and exchanging letters, maintain documents and performing confidential activities on behalf of someone or any organization.

Today the scope of the functions of secretaries has been broadened to a large extent. Now, their functions are not confined only in performing some confidential functions. They are now employed for performing numerous important duties and functions, like organizing and conducting meeting, writing correspondences, keeping records and accounts, acting as the mouth-piece of the employer and even acting as the executive head of any division of work at state level. Therefore, depending on the extent of responsibilities performed by the secretaries; they can be classified in many categories, such as private secretary, company secretaries; company secretary, secretary of the ministry, etc.

In the opinion of J.P. Bose, “The term secretary means a person who writes secret on behalf of this superior or for a body.”

On the basis of the above discussion we can conclude that a secretary is a salaried high official who performs many confidential and important functions for a person or for an organization

Types of secretary

Depending on the extent of the responsibilities performed by the secretaries; they can be classified in many categories. The major categories of secretary are as follows:

Private secretary

A private secretary is a person who is employed for performing some personal works of his employer. Generally, the high officials of any organization or the important persons of the society, like businessmen, doctors, actors and actresses, political leaders, lawyers etc. employ private secretary for getting help in performing their routine functions. Of a private secretary are conducting correspondences, preserving and filling the important documents, making and recording appointments, attending the guests and visitors, handling telephone calls etc.

Secretary of an association

Sometimes it is seen that many associations, like cultural and sporting clubs, trade associations or some human organizations appoint secretaries to administer their day to day activities. This type of secretary acts either as the chief executive officer of as the representative or as the chief adviser of the association. The main jobs of such secretaries are to direct and supervise the functions of subordinates, conducting correspondence with the outsiders, maintaining the important documents and books of accounts, arranging and conducting various meetings, etc. however, they perform their activities under the supervision of the managing committee of the concerned body or association.

Secretary of embassy

Every embassy or high commission or foreign mission appoints a secretary for performing some of its important functions. The secretary of the embassy or high commission is positioned net to the ambassador or high commissioner. In absence of the ambassador or high commissioner, he runs the embassy or commission office.

Secretary of a cooperative society

The managing committee of every cooperative society generally appoints a secretary to administer the society on their behalf. Any member of the society or any other outsider person can be appointed as the full-time secretary of the society on a fixed salary. The secretaries of cooperative societies also discharge their duties under the direct supervision of the managing committee.

Secretary of local body

When a person is appointed as the executive head of any municipal corporation or district board or of any local body, he is designated as the secretary of that body. Secretary of any local body is appointed as per the rules of that body and the law also specifies the functions, duties, and responsibilities of the secretary.

Secretary of Government department

Generally, government activities are performed under various ministries and departments. Every ministry or department is controlled by a minister with the help of a secretary. The secretary is the executive head of the ministry, while the minister is the head of the ministry.

Company secretary

Company secretary is a high-level officer of the company having requisite qualifications. He is appointed as per the rules prescribed in the companies act. Company secretary is mainly responsible for looking after the secretarial works. He generally maintains liaison with the board of directors, employees, shareholders and other outside parties. Now a day, company secretary is one of the most important persons who perform some specified duties in the company form of business. The functions that are performed by company secretaries are maintenance of books and registers as required by the company’s act, issue of share certificates, certification of meetings, arranging and attending meetings, drafting the minutes, sending returns to the register, etc.


  1. I do not mean to criticise but if I were to quote anything here for my assignment, I believe I would score very low marks. Though, this is not a test book, it should be more detailed and explicit to a greater extent as a reference material.


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