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office* voted Best PA Event of the year

Fresh from the success of its fifth edition last month, office* has been crowned ‘Best PA Industry Event’ 2014. It won the popular vote at’s Members Voice Awards, which were announced on 21 November.

Having already won widespread support from across the UK’s PA and office manager community, with 86% of surveyed visitors rating the 2014 show as excellent/good, office* can now count many of’s members amongst its legion of fans. According to, a total of 7,649 votes were cast across its six award categories.

“We are honoured that office* has been named the Best PA Industry Event in the UK,” says event director David Maguire. “To be recognised by members in this way is the ultimate accolade, as they are the very people who we created the office* show for. To receive such recognition from the PA Community validates all the hard work which goes into the event and makes this award feel even more special. It really does cap a brilliant year for office*, particularly after such a fantastic event in October. Thank you to everyone who voted!”

The UK’s biggest dedicated annual event for PAs, EAs, VAs, secretaries, office managers and executive support professionals, over 4,019 attendees converged on London’s Olympia for office* 2014. As in previous years, queues of enthusiastic visitors marked the start of the show. By the time doors closed, the two day event had been hailed by many as its best edition yet. Around 87% visitors are already planning to return in 2015.

“office* is the only show worth visiting if you want to take something more than pens back to work!” says Claire Pecontal, a PA at Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking.

"There is no event so insightful, so supportive, so understanding of the PA role as office*," says Hayley Martin, PA to the chief economist and director of policy at Institute of Directors (IoD).

“I left the show feeling valued as a PA and determined to develop my skills further with all the information I had gathered. I couldn't wait to share what I had learned with both my bosses!” says Saba Ali, PA to artistic director and director of marketing, communications and membership at Royal Academy of Dance.

PAs, EAs, VAs, secretaries or administrators (68%) working at companies which employed 250 employees or more (49%) were by far the show’s biggest audience. Attending seminars topped the list of reasons for attending (61%), followed by attending Keynotes, networking, researching products/services, and sourcing new suppliers.

“We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback that we have received since the show,” says Maguire. “office* has firmly placed itself at the centre of the office professional community and once again, it attracted exactly the right kind of enthusiastic, high-calibre audience that our exhibitors have come to expect. Big thanks must go to all our visitors, exhibitors, speakers, media supporters, and association partners for helping us put on such a successful show.”

GetTaxi, Pitman Training, CitySprint, Go Ape Corporate Events, London City Airport, Hemsley Fraser, Conference Centres of Excellence, Legamaster, Lee Valley Velopark & Lee Valley White Water Centre, CTI Corporate Travel International, Trodat UK, and STA Business Travel, are just some of the exhibitors that are already rebooked for 2015.

“Engaging, informative and inspirational” – great show content draws in the crowds

With 14% of visitors attending for both days, one of the show’s key draws has always been its exceptional educational content. Over 75% of all visitors took in the show’s 12 free Keynotes and ten free office* Theatre 3 sessions, and nearly half signed up for one (or more) of the 32 seminars on offer across the two days.

Notable highlights for 2014 included standing-room only Q&A sessions with Freda Kelly, former secretary to Brian Epstein and The Beatles, and former BBC 1 Apprentice advisor Margaret Mountford. The comprehensive free content in office* Theatre 3, which included sessions dedicated to the International Year of the Secretary and Assistant (IYOTSA) and the specialist skill-sets of Virtual Assistants, also proved popular with the crowds.

The winner of office*’s prestigious new PA Contributor of the Year Award was also announced. That honour went to Catherine Thomas from Public Health Wales. Aside from winning an overwhelming majority of votes many of Thomas’ colleagues submitted glowing testimonials on her behalf, including the following by one of her many supporters: “Catherine has spear-headed an innovative PA network across the NHS in Wales which has spread to other public services. Under her single-minded leadership the PA network is an important forum and force, bringing the pivotal role of the PA out of the shadows. Her energy, motivation and vision for a world class PA network is truly inspirational.” “It is such an honour to be the first recipient of the ‘PA Contributor of the Year’ award from office*. I am still a little shell shocked if truth be known!” said a delighted Thomas, who runs the NHS PAs for Excellence Network (which she founded in 2008) alongside her day-to-day role in the chief executive’s support office.

“PA Networks have been a big part of my life for over seven years now and my own network (NHS Wales PAs / @NHSPAsWales) has definitely been a labour of love. The network has gone from strength to strength, growing to over 400 members in 7 years. Being a PA is a lonely job at times and being part of a network allows PAs the chance to speak and learn from each other.

“I am extremely honoured to receive this award and urge any PAs not in a network, to take a leap of faith and make contact with a PA network,” she says.

Runners-up for inaugural office* PA Contributor of the Year Award 2014 included Debbie Grimshaw from Brother, Victoria Darragh from Hays plc, Lucy Brazier, editor of Executive Secretary Magazine, Alexandra Underwood from Societe Generale, and Hayley Hudson from RSA Insurance Group, who all received multiple votes.

“The best PA is undoubtedly a well-connected one – office* ticks all of the boxes for me. I get to meet suppliers, attend seminars or Keynote speeches, brainstorm at the hot topic sessions, relax in the VIP lounge, network on a global scale, and ultimately add benefit to my life both professionally and in a business capacity. Without question, it’s the best event for a PA/office manager and a calendar must!” concludes Jennifer Corcoran, office manager at Credit Agricole CIB.

“This was my first time visiting office* and it certainly won't be my last. Hugely useful to meet with companies that you might not have heard of before and some educational & useful seminars. I’m looking forward to next year already!” says Esther Dawson, EA to the Board of Directors at Icon Live Limited.

The next edition of office* will take place at Olympia Central, London, on 13-14 October 2015.

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