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office* launches PA Contributor of the Year Award 2014

To celebrate this year’s National PA Day, office* – the UK’s biggest two day event for the PA, secretarial, and executive support community, will announce the winner of its new PA Contributor of the Year Award on Tuesday 7 October at London’s Olympia.

Launched to reward the significant business contributions made by the UK’s PA professionals, the award – which is open for nominations until Friday 19 September – will recognise the hard-work, innovation, and dedication of the talented individuals, who are championing the PA role in the UK today.  

Since the call for nominations opened for the inaugural award last month, office*’s organiser Diversified Communications UK has received over a hundred entries from (and for) individuals based all across the UK.  

The message from office*’s event manager David Maguire is simple.  Since there is no shortlist for the PA Contributor of the Year Award, it’s important to “make sure that your vote counts”.  

“The PA Contributor of the Year Award is a fantastic opportunity for the PA and executive support community to come together to recognise and celebrate the contributions of its members.  And in doing so, identify that one truly influential and inspirational figure that has really made a difference over the last 12 months.”  

“Your own nominee might be an exceptional mentor, or a colleague that’s set up an invaluable network, or someone from a particular magazine, club, association or group, who has been a guiding light in your career.  I urge all office* supporters, exhibitors and visitors to take a few minutes to fill in the nomination form online today and make sure that your vote counts,” says Maguire.  

Entry/nomination forms are available to complete online at  A brief supporting statement is required for all entries.  The deadline for submitting nominations is midnight on Friday 19 September.  

The winner will be named on National PA Day 2014, with further details available in the official office* show guide.  

PAs prepare to celebrate National PA Day at office* As in previous years, thousands of PAs will descend on London on 7 October to celebrate National PA Day at office*.  The day will also see the launch of the results of the latest National PA Survey, which is now in its fourth year.  

According to The Professional Association for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (PAFSA), which has declared 2014 the International Year of the Secretary and Assistant (IYOTSA), around a fifth of the world’s working population is employed in administration.  However, there is often a significant difference between how people perceive the PA role (particularly around qualifications and career aspirations) and what it actually entails.  The aim of IYOTSA, and campaigns like the UK’s National PA Day, is to recognise and promote the achievements of PAs.  Helping to raise the profile of the role of a PA as a profession, not just a job.  

To mark the countdown to this year’s National PA Day, office* asked some top-level PAs and EAs what they liked best about their role.  

Victoria Darragh, executive assistant at Hays Plc (finalist, The Times | Hays PA of the year award 2008):
“We all say the variety of the role and that is the crunch point for most PAs, being able to get involved in different facets of the business and feel like you are making a contribution, rather than a conveyor belt of diary entries and travel.  It’s about being able to manage the strategic priorities of your Director and delivering what is required to the best of your ability.  I love the satisfaction I get from managing a project or event well.”  

Leeanne Graham, PA to the CEO at Starlight Children's Foundation – UK (winner of the Executive PA Magazine | Hays PA of the year award 2013):
“I have ended up doing a lot more than the ‘standard’ role. I have become an expert in IT and telecoms.  I know how to fix sinks and have become the resident handywoman.  I like being that person that people can come to for absolutely anything.  Getting the job done, and knowing that my boss doesn’t realise half the things I do to make their working life run smoothly.”  

Laura Ahmed, executive assistant to chief executive and chairman at ELEXON (winner of The Times | Hays PA of the year award 2010):
“I love the way that in a PA role you work alongside people that are business leaders and at the very top of your company – so you’re constantly working closely with inspirational people that you can learn from and that can help you flourish; you can influence these people in your role as a PA, so it is a very important role.  My advice for anyone that is new to this exciting profession is to never think of yourself as ‘just an assistant’.  Recognise the value that can be added in the PA role, see the influence you can have, and remember to trust your judgement – take initiative!”  

Debs Eden, support team manager and assistant to managing partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP (winner of the 2007 Executive PA Magazine PA of the Year):
“I’ve had a long career (30 years), and technology is probably the biggest change in the role.  But I’ve also seen immense changes in the way companies do business.  Companies are more ambitious, our bosses are better qualified, and more dynamic, and I’ve got access to so many more opportunities.  The PA role is now seen as a career rather than a job, and I like the variety, the challenges, and the opportunities that brings.”  

Victoria Darragh, Leeanne Graham, Laura Ahmed, and Debs Eden – along with Bethany Fovargue (co-founder of the Peterborough PA Network), Emma Kernan Staines (Senior PA at The Football Association), celebrity PAs Josephine Green and Merryl Futerman (founders of PA Access All Areas), and Angela Dawson (The Admin Doctor and The VA Doctor) – have all been confirmed to facilitate the office*’s new Hot Topic Roundtable discussions.  Topics range from networking to addressing workplace bullying, from mentoring to asking for a pay rise.

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