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The power of the mind World kickboxing champion reveals how she found the courage to succeed – and PAs can do it too

Corporate hospitality is back ...and it’s about much more than splashing the cash

EA vs AI?

Automation, robots and artificial intelligence have arrived in the office – but are they friend or foe?



UK Creative Workshop, Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow.


E X P E R I E N C E M E E T I N G S AT R A D I S S O N B L U . A S C O M M I T T E D A S YO U A R E .

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I’m delighted to have made it through my first issue and now be close to compiling my second! Thanks very much to both the Executive PA Media team and our lovely readers for my warm welcome; it’s been a pleasure getting to know everyone. I’ve built up a comprehensive database of PAs and EAs who are interested in contributing to the magazine: this could mean responding with comment to enquiries I send out for features we’re running, suggesting someone – or yourself – for our PA Profile, or getting in touch with me ad-hoc to let me know what you like, don’t like or want to see more of in the magazine. This will continue to be a work in progress, so if you haven’t been in touch yet but would like to be added to the database, please email – tell me about your role, the company you work for, where you’re based and where your expertise lies, as well as any feedback and ideas for future topics. Back to this issue! Our special feature on the extremely inspiring Nadine Champion is well-worth a read, especially if you’re looking for a bit of a push to do something scary. This time, Thought Leaders looks at what increased

April/May 2017

UK investment into artificial intelligence and robotics means for the PA – and, fortunately, there are opportunities galore for creative, ambitious EAs to prove that the assistant role will always need the personal touch. We take a trip to North Yorkshire for Gastronomer’s Guide, supplementing it with a detailed look at what it’s like doing business in Leeds and Yorkshire. Finally, after its debut in the February/March issue, Recognition will be profiling bosses and companies with business practices that are a little bit different – in a good way. In this issue, we find out why Bupa is a great organisation to work for. On that note, if you think you’ve got an outstanding employer or workplace, nominate them for the next Recognition – send an email ( about why they’re simply the best! And why not nominate them for the Executive PA Media 2017 Awards whilst you're at it? Visit

Claire Muir Editor, Executive PA Magazine



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CONTENTS April/May 2017

FEATURES 12 The ‘Champion’ of courage World Cup Martial Arts gold medallist, Nadine Champion, explains how the power of the mind can be used to make you braver than you think you are

18 Recognition We find out why Bupa is an award-winning workplace – could you pick up some tips to pass on to the boss?

22 AI and the PA Artificial intelligence and robots are no longer a ‘might happen’ – they’re quickly becoming part of office life. Thought Leaders explores what this means for the PA and how you can make sure your human touch remains valuable

36 Going luxe with corporate retreats Showing staff they’re valued and appreciated is the biggest investment you can make, so do it right!

39 Corporate hospitality It’s back, but this time it takes some careful planning to organise corporate hospitality that fits with the times

58 IMEX preview Discover the details of what’s in store in Frankfurt

59 Three in one


Find out how International Confex, the Event Production Show and office* got on exhibiting under one roof

60 PA Profile We talk to Scott Giles, EA to the CEO of Southampton Football Club, about what it’s like working in an industry you’ve loved since the age of seven

62 Education and training Ana Cox talks counselling and Jenni Hallam will teach you how to exercise your emotional muscles, whilst PA Rachael Bonnetti gives her top tips for developing new, practical skills to enhance your role


SOCIAL MEDIA Find out what our social media-connected PAs are discussing on Facebook or keep up-to-date with us through Twitter, LinkedIn or via executivepa PAofTheYear Executive PA Magazine

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Executive PA Magazine |

INTERACTIVE 54 Executive PA Media reader and prize winner reports Find out how our PAs got on at Shangri-La Hotel; Amba Hotel; City Academy and overseas in Switzerland



07 Inbox All the news, views and information you need PRODUCTS

26 Technofile Tim Stackpool shares his predictions about the potentially puzzling ‘internet of things’

28 Office essentials We explore some of the coolest new products that should be in your office TRAVEL


30 The buzzing northern metropolis Labelled the UK’s fastest growing city, what can Leeds offer your boss?


34 Meet beyond London Business in South East England is worth £323 billion – time to find out more!

42 Kia Ora New Zealand may not be the most convenient meeting or conference destination but your boss is in for the trip of a lifetime if they’re heading that way... VENUES

44 Ask the concierge James Cameron, head concierge at The Wellesley reveals the culinary hotspots in and around Knightsbridge

47 Gastronomer’s guide Gareth Rayner, head chef at The Coach House at Middleton Lodge in Yorkshire, tells us the secrets behind his favourite dish

48 Venue menu Find out what’s happening in venues across the country CAREER

66 Career News, views and essential information for boosting your career



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April/May 2017

CONTRIBUTORS Informing, empowering and inspiring PAs worldwide

CORA LYDON Cora is the former editor of Executive PA Magazine – a role she held for 11 years. She has worked as a journalist for more than 16 years and has edited a variety of magazines covering topics from interiors to education and building developments.

TIM STACKPOOL Tech expert Tim is the technology writer for Executive PA Media. He can be heard on talk radio in his native Australia and is a tech presenter speaking at conferences and trade shows about technology’s impact on work and lifestyle.



LEO D’ANGELO FISHER Leo D’Angelo Fisher is a business journalist, author and commentator, and was former associate editor with Business Review Weekly.

ALEX JONES Alex is Executive PA Media’s recruitment specialist. He is senior regional director at Hays Specialist Recruitment.

020 7236 1118 CONTACTS EDITOR


Stephan Pavlovic ACCOUNT MANAGER

JANE LONGHURST Jane has been the chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association since 2004 and has an eventmanagement background spanning nearly 30 years, having directed events departments for MacMillan Publishing and Emap Healthcare.

JENNI HALLAM Jenni is a personal development specialist, working with professionals to help them streamline life and achieve success with no compromise on health and happiness. She has been helping people develop their careers for 30 years.

ANA COX Ana is an accredited counsellor with the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. She works in private practice with a focus on her special interests, which include bicultural identity, stress and anxiety.

OTHER CONTRIBUTORS Thanks to all our other contributors:



James Brome +61 (7) 3839 4911 CHAIRMAN

Russell Peacock PUBLISHED BY

Hazel Davis Rachael Bonetti Richard Trenchard Simon King

SPL Learning & Media, 21 Godliman Street, London, EC4V 5BD EUROPE ASIA AUSTRALIA PRINTED BY

Stephens & George Print Group

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD LARISSA AUDITORE Larissa is the winner of the 2014 Executive PA Media ‘PA of the Year’ Award in Australia. Larissa is a strong advocate for EAs to see their role as a partnership, in order to be best placed to broaden their skills and grow their career.

BARBARA SMITH Barbara Smith has extensive experience working in partnerships at the highest level of management and was one of the first advocates of the importance of professional networks and development for executive assistants.



Annual subscription: £132 Copyright 2017 SPL Learning & Media

SUZIE KEMP Suzie is EA to the founding directors and CEO of Minor DKL Food Group Pty Ltd. Suzie was recognised for her project management by being awarded ‘Runner Up: Best Organised Event by a PA’ at the Executive PA Media Awards Australia in 2015.

ELIZABETH WAKELING Elizabeth has over 25 years’ teaching experience. She is principal tutor and head of secretarial studies at Beckenham College and UK Chairman of International Management Assistants (IMA) – formerly EUMA.

All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publishers. While every care is taken in the compilation of this publication, the publishers can not accept any responsibility for any inaccuracies or changes since compilation, or for consequential loss arising from such changes or inaccuracies, or for any other loss, direct or consequential, arising in connection with information in this publication. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply recommendation by the publisher.

This publication is produced from sustainable sources and is a recyclable product. We encourage our readers to reduce waste by recycling.


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Keep up to date with the latest news surrounding the role of the PA


Job stealing robots?


Are you m-learning yet? Learning organisations are increasingly adapting their formats to suit the shifts in learners’ lifestyles, expectations and environments. And, with many EAs increasingly looking to boost their skill set (check out Thought Leaders on page 22 to find out more) it’s worthwhile keeping abreast of the developments. Mobile learning (or m-learning), defined as learning across multiple

contexts through social and content interactions using personal electronic devices, is predicted to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 16.5 per cent between 2016 and 2020. Meanwhile, more than 50 per cent of UK businesses are expected to adopt m-learning by the end of 2017, with this number expected to increase even more over the next three years.

A report from the Oxford Martin School in 2013 concluded that 47 per cent of manufacturing jobs were susceptible to automation. Now, recent findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States has taken this a step further, suggesting the jobs have already gone and won’t be coming back. Research suggests that six jobs are eliminated for every robot introduced into the workforce, and wages are cut by up to half a per cent. This process is now already underway in the office environment with process and administration driven jobs most at risk. For an insight into the world of robotics, and how this could both challenge and benefit the PA, turn to Thought Leaders on page 22. Editor’s note: It’s our belief that automation provides an opportunity for PAs to show their true worth, as critical thinking and ambassadorial skills – together with day-to-day professionalism – becomes increasingly evident. However, the need to stay current and invest in vocational training and education is now essential, rather than optional.


PA steals from employer An infatuated PA, scared of losing her boyfriend, stole more than £40,000 over the course of a year, using her company credit cards to purchase him gifts, clothes, an x-box and flights. Emily Watson started with her company as a Senior Administration Assistant but was so well regarded she was then promoted to the Personal Assistant position. One of the few people in the company to be trusted with the organisation’s PIN numbers, she was also trusted with company

credit cards. And, to cover her tracks, the 25-year-old edited bank statements using a PDF programme. Her activity went undetected by her employer, Sequre Property Investments, for an entire year but the situation finally caught up with her when another employee noticed the doctored bank statements and discovered Watson had been stealing the cash. Ms Watson was subsequently sacked and jailed for 18 months for her crimes. APRIL/MAY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM


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Keep up to date with the latest news surrounding the role of the PA


The White House insider


Prevention is better than cure The Rolls-Royce payment of a massive £671 million to settle a five-year-long investigation conducted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has brought antifraud processes to the forefront for many UK businesses. And, according to Aziz Rahman, corporate fraud solicitor at Rahman Ravelli, it’s not unusual for PAs to find themselves pulled into an SFO investigation, so it’s worth being prepared. Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily mean you’re under suspicion. Rahman explains: “The SFO will often issue a notice under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act, which will compel a PA to deliver documents or answer questions requested by its investigators. And a PA may find that they are the subject of a search warrant if the SFO believes he or she may be in possession of potential evidence. “A PA may even be arrested: if SFO investigators feel that a PA has information that they have not yet disclosed, 08


they may use arrest as a means of trying to scare them into telling them everything. Whatever approach is taken, SFO investigators will treat the PA as someone who was probably in a position to see everything that was going on. And this will, on occasions, lead to them being suspected of wrongdoing.” Although few and far between, there have been cases where PAs have been prosecuted because the authorities believed they were involved in business crime. Rahman adds: “In such cases, a PA will require the advice of solicitors who are capable of establishing that the PA didn’t take an active role in what went on and maybe didn’t even understand what was going on.’’ In response to the Rolls-Royce decision, Rahman Ravelli has published an in-depth online guide of SFO processes, including how it collects evidence and begins an investigation:

Peggy Grande, EA to President Ronald Reagan after he left office, has released a book – The President Will See You Now – that reveals America’s 40th president’s final years in public life. Peggy began as an intern and, after graduation, became EA to Reagan’s chief of staff. She was promoted to Reagan’s EA in 1993. She recalls one of her early PA tasks: finding an exact-fit cowboy hat for Mikhail Gorbachev, the former communist leader of the Soviet Union, who was to visit Reagan in his California ranch. A true professional, after a number of overnight calls to Moscow and faxes with hand-drawn diagrams, she had the requested hat in his size. Her role came into focus when her boss went public with his Alzheimers’ diagnosis. She said: “You know, we don’t know in life why we’re put in the places we are and I have no idea why God chose to pluck this young woman from obscurity and drop her at the feet of greatness, but I determined that I would be a good steward of that role.”


The princess and the PA After loyally serving the British royal family for 10 years, and being Kate Middleton’s PA for the last five, Rebecca Deacon is stepping down from her role. Previously at the service of Prince Harry, Rebecca became Kate’s right-hand woman back in 2012 and after five years got quite the sendoff from her employers when she formally handed in her notice. Currently engaged, her leaving present was the honour of tying the knot within the Chapel Royal of Saint James Palace; a place usually reserved only for those with a direct link to the royal family. Well, it certainly beats a bunch of wilted flowers and a box of chocolates anyday!

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Keep up to date with the latest news surrounding the role of the PA



How many PAs can say their career highlights have been hitting zero gravity (15 times) or swimming with whale sharks? There aren’t many PAs around like Helen Clarke. But then her boss is kind of unique too By Hazel Davis



IT’S NO SURPRISE that when we ask our readers who their

dream boss would be the answer is usually Helen’s boss, but is her role all it’s cracked up to be? Helen, 34, has been PA to Richard Branson since 2007. And, like her boss, she is full of smiles. With huge green eyes, a throaty laugh and an easy tactile manner, Helen is a beguiling interviewee. Of course, her boss is the king of PR, so it’s unlikely she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but there is something arrestingly honest and warm about her that resists a journalist’s cynicism.


“One minute he is speaking at a conference on the war on drugs and the next minute he’s dressed as an air hostess and flying to Kuala Lumpur.”


Helen’s ascent to one of the top PA jobs is as refreshingly ‘normal’ as Branson’s own story. She left school at 17, and worked in various roles including as a hotel receptionist and as office manager for a security firm. While she was doing this her middle sister suggested she apply to become cabin crew, which she did. “And that was the start of my relationship with Virgin,” Helen twinkles, “I knew I didn’t want to do that forever so once the two years was up I saw a job working in the CEO’s office.” Ever humble, she adds, “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and I got the job.” After she’d worked in various departments at Virgin Atlantic, someone suggested she apply to be Branson’s PA’s assistant, based full-time on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. “It took me a week to decide to apply,” Helen says, “I was in my mid-twenties but it was a job halfway across the world.” But she got the job and the day she arrived was told that Branson’s PA was leaving to get married and so just a few months later she found herself job-sharing one of the biggest executive PA roles you could imagine.


The role of Sir Richard’s main PA is split 60 per cent between Necker Island and 40 per cent travelling. When Helen’s job share left two years ago she became the sole PA with her own assistant based on Necker Island.

VIRGIN TERRITORY It’s perhaps obvious that one of the main things you need when you’re Richard Branson’s PA is complete flexibility. Helen says, “I don’t tend to get too stressed about anything and I think a certain level of stress is quite healthy but if Richard wants to change something and then two minutes later change it again then I just have to go with it. I have to be completely flexible.” The randomness of the role is something that appeals to Helen, “One minute he is speaking at a conference on the war on drugs and the next minute he’s dressed as an air hostess and flying to Kuala Lumpur. He is unique and so that makes my role unique too.” It stands to reason that there’s no such thing as an ‘average week’ in Helen Clarke’s world. The week this interview took place she had already been in Necker and then New York for a day and then back to London. She laughs, “Two weeks ago we were in Dubai.” Most of the work revolves around Sir Richard’s speaking engagements and that’s what takes them so far afield. Despite the sheer amount of it, Helen insists that she still loves the travelling: “Of course it’s lovely coming back and not having to worry about packing but I love that we get to go to places like Lebanon, where I would never have gone otherwise. It’s also great to meet people who are so excited and for whom it’s a really big deal.” t MAY/JUNE 2014 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM



“I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I’ve done without my assistants” Executive PA Magazine ran an exclusive interview with Helen Clarke, Richard Branson’s PA, back in 2014 and it was refreshing to read, in one of Branson’s recent blogs, that she’s still going strong at Virgin. Branson writes: “My assistants know me better than I know myself, and have put in an unbelievable amount of work, but they know how to play hard too. Without them, the Virgin Group wouldn’t be what it is today. Helen

knows what I am thinking before I ask her; she can act as my memory and always finds solutions to any issue. “Just as importantly, she brings positivity and happiness wherever she goes, making travelling the world together far more enjoyable and productive. Whether we are launching Unite BVI, attending a drug policy debate or introducing a new airline route, Helen adapts to every situation and makes it fun too.”


Kitchen dramas at work 67 per cent of UK office workers have fallen out over kitchen habits in the past 12 months, according to research from household appliances retailer – and 35 per cent have sent a passive aggressive 10


email or left a note as a result. Top bugbears included tiffs about running out of milk, coffee and tea bags, and lost or stolen food and drink. You might want to think twice before nabbing that splash of semi-skimmed next time...

Is your boss prepared for an office bereavement? As recent news revealed that Facebook has doubled its bereavement leave policy for employees – giving 20 days paid leave to mourn an immediate family member – the topic has provoked social media debates. For CEOs and their senior team, including EAs, managing bereavement at work isn’t easy – the needs of the business must be juggled with what’s best for the employee. Nearly half of HR departments admit they lack agreed policies to cope with the aftermath of the death of an employee and nearly two out of three don’t have agreed procedures for supporting staff diagnosed with terminal illness, research from MetLife Employee Benefits shows. Sadly, it’s something that’s essential in business – 13 per cent of HR departments in the UK reported the misfortune of an employee death within the past two years, whilst around a third have had to provide bereavement support to staff following the death of a family member. You can also help to ensure your boss is prepared should they be faced with this situation, by checking whether there’s a policy in place. If so, is it up-to-date and are staff aware of it? Is the CEO familiar with the content, too? Check whether there are support mechanisms in place for employees and the boss. Toolkits are available on managing the impact bereavement can have in the workplace, whilst face-toface and 24-hour telephone counselling services can be made available for the affected employee. Of course, prevention is better than cure so encourage regular team updates so that at least one other person could step in and take over each person’s role, if needed. And consider whether the company could do more to prepare: two out of five HR departments say they’re looking to provide bereavement-specific training for line managers to help them better support staff.

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ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S strongest women, World Cup Martial Arts gold medallist and Sensei Nadine Champion has hung up her boxing gloves to take on a fight of a different kind: empowering people to succeed. The kickboxing champion spent three decades studying martial arts and learning about the power of the mind. Now, she’s on a mission to use her life lessons to help others fight for what they really want in life – and she’s certainly more than qualified to do so. The 40-year-old black belt has had to literally fight her way to the top, but nothing could have prepared her more for a test of her mental strength than a cancer diagnosis in 2013, just weeks after her brother died from lung cancer.

THE KARATE KID Champion (her real name!) was just ten and living on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia, when she decided to try out martial arts after watching The Karate Kid: “I thought it was so cool. The first time I went to a class, the instructor said to my mum ‘how long has she been doing it?’ and she said ‘this is her first time.’ I heard that and was pretty chuffed,” she smiles.

Champion left school and started supporting herself. After achieving a black belt in her early twenties, she headed back to university to study criminology and social policy, while still practising martial arts. She felt incredible fortunate to find a sport she could excel in and was quickly rising in the ranks – but, an attack that occured when she was working as a security guard, made her question her own ability.

THE SENSEI “I came up against two people and got badly eye-gouged. I had tied my worth to being good at martial arts and that tore it down. The next day I was bruised and very shaky, emotionally. It was a really pivotal moment for me because it knocked me off course.” She says, as with everything in life, most people change direction, taking another course because of a negative event. But she realised she needed to face that fear. In search of something else in martial arts to help her, Nadine found what she calls her Mr Miyagi in Sensei Benny ‘the jet’ Urquidez. Urquidez earned the first of his nine t

THE ‘CHAMPION’ OF COURAGE Executive PA Media talks to world kickboxing champion and mind coach Nadine Champion about her journey, and how you can gain the courage to succeed in life



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– it’s important in those situations to be able to self-acknowledge. Reward yourself for your achievements: the person who needs to clap for you the most needs to be yourself. We’re so mentally conditioned to be critical of ourselves, but think and discuss how awesome we are. It’s about backing yourself.” Little did Nadine know at the time, these, and other powerful mind strategies Sensei Benny had taught her, were about to be tested in ways she could have never imagined.

CHANGING PATHS After losing her older brother to cancer, Champion was deep in grief when, just weeks later, she found a lump on her collarbone: “I wasn’t sick at all. I was fit and any symptoms I had, I saw as stress. I had that moment where I wanted to push it away and put off calling the doctor but I made an appointment anyway.” After three weeks of tests she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Lymphoma. “Cancer was my most challenging time, but it’s the challenging times which either make you or break you and within that you decide. Only you decide.” Less than two years later Nadine took to the stage at the Opera House at TEDx Sydney, in front of 2,500 people. She says of that: “That was challenging because it wasn’t long after I had cancer treatment and I was still quite vulnerable. I talked about testing the theory. You can’t live your life saying the right stuff: you have to participate and follow through. Knowing isn’t enough.” Naturally, the speech had everyone on their feet and there was barely a dry eye in the room.

s black belts at just 14-years-old, making him one of the youngest

black belts in modern martial arts history. Then, over the course of his career, he won six World Championships. “Sensei Benny was my idol as a child. I thought I’d try this form of the sport and see which part I like, then stumbled upon what I’d do for the rest of my life. I feel like it was all fateful and very lucky,” Champion explains. She spent the next decade teaching martial arts as a high performance coach, focusing on mindset: “I realised that was the thing that made me want to get out of bed in the morning. The beautiful thing is that giving away these lessons I’ve been taught reaffirms them for me too.”

PASSING IT FORWARD Champion says some of the key things she learned from Sensei Benny were about the importance of fear. She says there’s nothing wrong with having fear and, in fact, you can’t have courage without fear being present: “It’s not very brave when you’re not scared of something. I used to get in the ring and cry every time, but Sensei told me it’s like making a clay tray. It takes 100 layers of glazing before it can hold water. So, each time you do something that makes you cry, or makes you scared, it gets easier and easier.” She says that EAs can do that too, whether it’s speaking up in a meeting where you’re too scared to voice your opinion, or putting a proposal forward for a new idea: “The more often you do it, the easier it’ll become.” She suggests we all self-reward when we achieve something that pushed us out of our comfort zone, no matter how ‘lame’ it may sound: “I know it’s difficult for EAs because they do so much work and are often not recognised because they assist 14


I’ve seen behind the curtain so I make decisions that if I had a year to live how would I respond. We should live like that... Don’t let the ‘no’ ruin you: it’s better to fail spectacularly because you tried, than not try at all MOVING FORWARD Champion now spends her days training, teaching and speaking about how to use courage to empower your life, whether it’s in the workplace or to reach your own personal goals. She practices what she preaches too. For a long time Nadine wanted to write a book, but when an email came back saying no, she decided to reply: “I went back and said ‘hang on, let me come in and tell you why I think this would make a great book.’ They agreed – and I went in and came out with a book deal.” Her book Ten Seconds of Courage will be published this year. It covers how you should take hold of those first ten seconds when you’re given an opportunity. And, instead of talking yourself out of it, harness the first ten seconds of courage. She says that’s exactly how she lives her life now: have a scary feeling, but do the opposite of what you would normally do. “Being on my death bed is realistic for me. I’ve seen behind the curtain so I make decisions that if I had a year to live how would I respond. We should live like that... Don’t let the ‘no’ ruin you: it’s better to fail spectacularly because you tried, than not try at all,” Champion concludes. E


Are you the superhero behind your company’s events? If you organise travel and events for your company, you’ll have built up a vast knowledge in every area of your job – from budget management to catering, technology to décor. You know how to make great things happen – but your job is full of tough challenges and it pays to stay open to new ideas. Speakers from big brands share their expertise Exclusively Corporate at IMEX, 15 May, is an education and networking event designed for professionals like you – a chance to meet peers and make long-lasting contacts, participate in discussions on the latest issues affecting your role, and listen to speakers from companies including GSK, Lego, Dell, Verifone, Estée Lauder and Barclays.

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Managing multiple job offers – the fortunate dilemma The job market is buoyant right now despite concerns over Brexit. At Crone Corkill the start of 2017 brought the usual rush to find a new job following last year’s bonuses and this year’s resolutions It’s hard enough to juggle a busy diary to attend interviews alongside a current job, but a growing number of candidates are facing another problem – how to juggle more than one offer coming in at the same time. As the economy is recovering and more jobs are available, it’s a situation that you could be faced with. So what do you do? Take lots of deep breaths and a calm approach. Like any other challenge it’s easier if it’s broken down into simple steps. When you start to look for a new job think through your own priorities so you’ll have a clear idea of what’s best for you. Ask people who know you well, like family, friends and former bosses, and think about what you’d like in the longterm. Your dream job may not be the one that pays the most, but the one where you feel you make the greater contribution, or prefer the working environment. The golden rule is to be yourself throughout the process, if I was offered this role would I accept? You may not be given very long to respond – sometimes only a few hours. It’s a good idea to ask at your initial interview how long it’s likely to be before you’ll hear back. Some recruitment campaigns can take weeks, because the prospective employer has to follow a process. If you were told it could be up to a month, then it would be unrealistic to ask for a response after a week. If you find yourself in an interview and are asked outright if you have other offers, make sure you’re ready with a response. Never lie – honesty is always best. Try to answer as truthfully as you can 16


without making yourself sound like an unattractive candidate. Explain you are looking at other possibilities, but also why you’re particularly drawn to their company. The big challenge comes when you have an offer from Company-A but deep down you’d really prefer to work for Company-B. You might be able to buy a bit of thinking time by contacting Company-A along the lines: ‘Thank you so much for the offer and I’m very excited about it. However, I have a conversation with another company this week and I’d like to see it through before I accept.’ The worst thing that can happen is they say no, but they’re more likely to appreciate your honesty. You could then go to Company-B and tell them you’ve had another offer but, again, be careful. Successful career planning involves establishing long-term relationships. You don’t want to look as though you’re pitching one employer against another, and never invent a fictitious job offer – you’ll only get found out. The manager you impress with your honesty and professionalism today may not hire you now, but could in the future. If you’re confident you might be Company-B’s front-runner, and that’s the job you want, consider something like this: ‘I’m very enthusiastic about working with you and am grateful to you for considering me, but I wanted you to know that I have been offered another post. As I’d prefer to work with you, I wondered when you were likely to make your final decision?’ At Crone Corkill we help our candidates cope with these tricky situations. If you have two job offers from clients of

ours, our consultants will take you through the separate offers so you can weigh up the pros and cons of each, but we won’t push you into a decision. It’s up to you to choose what’s best. Even if the offers come from different recruitment agencies, set a time frame over when you will come back with a decision and let them both know. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured to make a decision on the spot, take the time to think about both offers and make the decision that is right for you. No-one should ever feel pressured by a pushy consultant. We aim to make sure our candidates get the jobs that are right for them, and that’s usually right for the clients too. Finally, when you’ve made your decision and you’re ready to celebrate, don’t ignore the people you turned down as you never know when you may come into contact with someone you met throughout the process again. It will reinforce those sound professional relationships on which your personal reputation is built. E INFO


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Executive PA Magazine LinkedIn company page and now also a group page Have your say Executive PA Magazine is the world’s leading business management title for senior executive assistants & career-minded administration professionals and is their leading training & professional development resource. Over 25 years old and separately published all over the world, our magazine is read by more professionals than any other journal for executive assistants.

To communicate effectively within senior management forums the modern executive assistant needs to be familiar with many management disciplines such as finance, events, travel, marketing, HR and copyright issues and this group furthers Executive PA Magazine’s mission to be the essential business management aid for busy EAs and PAs.

We invite you to share best practice and build your knowledge for you develop your career and to work in a more effective partnership with your boss. Senior PAs, EAs, VAs and aspiring EA professionals are warmly invited to join this community and get involved.

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Right Michelle Taylor (second from left) collecting the runner-up award for Employer of the Year Australia on behalf of Bupa

Putting staff in first place The Executive PA Media Employer of the Year award celebrates organisations that truly value their PAs. Michelle Taylor, whose company Bupa Australia, was commended last year for its family spirit tells us why her company regularly comes out on top for its staff RECOGNITION



How does your company show its appreciation for staff? We recently had our Customer Service Awards, where we recognised outstanding achievements, not only from managers but our claims and contact centres too. As part of the awards, people were able to choose a leader they’d like a development and mentoring session with. Now, I still see some team members communicating with the leader who they met with, and emailing updates. We also have the opportunity to spend time with more senior/experienced EAs within the business to learn and grow.

What sets Bupa apart for you? I recently lost my mother and the ‘Bupa family’ gathered around me. I received flowers and messages from our directors. Even now they still check in on me,

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This is great for us, considering we are spread across Australia.

How flexible is your working environment? Bupa really wraps its arms around staff going through difficult times, whether through ill health or losing a loved one. It’s very family-friendly and offers many flexible working conditions for part-time, job share and remote working. I have a son with severe autism and I’m supported to work from home for his therapy appointments. A long-term employee recently had an accident and Bupa helped set her up at home as she wanted to continue to work.

How supportive is your company to your daily wellbeing? Our Smile Program offers health services and support options. There are team activities and a suite of wellness discounts across the areas of healthier bodies, healthier places, healthier cultures and healthier minds. We have health coaching, life skills and quit smoking programmes, as well as free flu vaccinations and vouchers to help us stay well during winter. We also have wellness staff come in and do skin checks, blood pressure and cholesterol testing. However, the more popular ones are the reflexology and massages…

What about other incentives or benefits?

asking me if there’s anything they can help further with.

How supportive is your organisation to your training needs? I belong to the internal Executive PA Network and a ‘Business Chicks’ group. We also have subscriptions to many online portals and reading materials. Bupa encourages us to seek development, inside and outside the organisation. I’ve attended many computer courses, fully paid for by Bupa, to up-skill and learn new skills. Currently, in customer service, we have an in-house leaders’ development course. Many of our leaders have travelled to attend claims conferences, workshops and personal development sessions held by third-party organisations. And we

have a learning portal called Grow, which offers cloud-based learning tools, including videos, demos and face-to-face training for all employees, no matter what level. Whatever the training, my managers are always right beside me cheering me on. There are great opportunities to expand and as a PA/EA there are many projects you can put your hand up for.

We get a great discount on private health, travel and general insurance, as well as discounts with our Bupa Optical and Bupa Dental centres. Bupa also generously matches dollar-to-dollar for any employee who does fortnightly pay contributions to charities. All employees have two volunteering leave days each year. This is flexible and can be taken as a full-day activity or hourly allotments. In the past, people have volunteered after some of the most horrific bush fires in Victoria. We also regularly support the Redkite charity with its Christmas wrapping at shopping centres. E

What are your internal communications like? The Bupa community intranet is like a social page where team members from different states can post pictures, discuss or blog: this has been a great interaction tool. I’ve personally set up community workspaces for two business units and we have a great following; not only our own teams, but other business units are following and commenting, too.

INFO Michelle Taylor is PA to head of claims and PA to the head of service optimisation at Bupa Australia.



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NO MINAT IO NS NOW OPEN FOR 2017 Nominations for the 2017 Executive PA Awards are now open and this year sees the addition of three new exciting categories to reflect the global growth of the role of business manager for the modern day executive assistant: PA Corporate Travel Manager of the Year PA of the Year North America PA of the Year Scandinavia These will join an impressive variety of categories including last year’s newcomers, PA of the Year Africa and Outstanding Contribution to the Profession. The Executive PA Awards are the longest established global platform for recognising and rewarding achievement for PA and EA professionals, and we invite you all to get involved, here’s how:

NOMINATIONS To nominate yourself, your colleague, your employer or boss, please visit TICKE TS To purchase tables and tickets please contact Sam Anderson at SPONSORSHIP To sponsor a category or to find out about commercial opportunities please contact Stephan Pavlovic at or Harry Knight at executivepa PAofTheYear

2016 S PON SORS Executive PA Magazine

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Artificial intelligence and the EA Virtual digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, have become a fixture in daily life and their cross-over into the business world is already happening – but PAs and EAs are not waiting quietly for robots to replace them, says Simon King WITH US RESEARCH company Gallup reporting that PAs don’t have enough time in the workday to complete their tasks, marketers and developers suggest that so-called artificial intelligence (AI) devices will help. Robotic versions of the ‘perfect assistant,’ are already in use – Amy, for example, is a humanlike AI tool that schedules meetings for busy executives. With a simple e-mail to Amy, she’ll let you and your contact know when and where to meet – in a remarkably human-like tone, too. Chris Rosebert, head of data science and AI at recruitment firm, Networkers, says: “Without doubt AI and robotics are providing the biggest technology leap that we have seen in a very long time and will affect every business and individual. In our recent Technology: Voice of the Workforce survey of over 1,600 tech professionals, 39 per cent of respondents see automation technologies replacing traditional human processes as the biggest disruptor to the industry in the next five years.” t 22


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“The fact that they (PAs) have fewer options to work flexibly, or from home, than their colleagues certainly suggests that their continued presence in the workplace is vital to the smooth running of many companies” Craig Allen, director at Change Group


My story Rachael Bonetti, EA to the people director for Australia and New Zealand at Bupa, has cleverly broadened her skill set to shape her career and demonstrate her value: “I realised that if my core duties were in hand, nobody ever turned down the offer for me to take on more of the work I enjoyed, which was always outside the administration realm: writing, creative work, events, building networks. In fact, my managers loved that I was adding value beyond my role. I also realised that if I wanted to work at a senior level where my exposure to these tasks was greater, I needed to work hard to develop skills my managers would find useful. “My previous role was in a business that began to embrace social media to raise their profile but there wasn’t anyone with a specialist skill to take this on. I was an intuitive user of social media and had a keen interest in it so recognised it as an opportunity. I started to study social media management and shared ideas with my manager. Then it became part of my job. This approach has meant I’ve steered the direction of my career. Now, I do more of the things I love: strategy for business development, staff management, workforce planning, recruitment and building great teams.”



In fact, this is already in practice in some workplaces. Japanese company Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance has replaced more than 30 employees with an AI system, believing this will increase productivity by 30 per cent. And, according to a report in The Sunday Times, Aviva is planning to survey its 16,000 workers on whether their jobs could be done better by robots. Those that answer ‘yes’ will be retrained for other roles within the business. Similarly, Capita, which counts the NHS and DVLA as clients, announced plans in December to replace 2,000 jobs with robotic processes. However, Deloitte’s latest Global Human Capital Trends report revealed that just 16 per cent of leaders feel ready to manage a workforce consisting of both people and AI. Anne-Marie Malley, UK human capital leader at Deloitte, says organisations need to prepare themselves for the workplace of the future: “Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and is rewriting the rules of work.” Naturally, of course, these looming interruptions raise concerns, as advances in AI, machine learning and robotics suggest a threat to professional and skilled jobs. As such, research from luxury support specialist Change Group claims that 44 per cent of London-based PAs fear robots may replace their role. What if the AI assistant is so perfect that the need for a human PA is no more? “The role of the PA is one that is often mooted to be at risk from the rise of the robots,” says Jeremy Campbell, chief commercial officer at global HR and payroll provider SD Worx. “In fact, rather than making PAs redundant, AI is more likely to help complement their role and even add to the overall influence they have within the organisation.” In fact, it’s thought that AI entering the workplace could actually be of benefit to high-skill workers. Assistants could use clever new machines and technology for repetitive tasks, and

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reallocate the hours they gain back to deeper, more productive work time or developing an interest in new areas. Campbell continues: “Robotic process automation can operate at the user interface layer of business applications and work between existing systems to mimic tasks which were usually carried out by PAs.”

GETTING PREPARED Although this ticks the efficiency and productivity boxes, PAs still need to prove they’re essential as technology evolves. As such, lifelong learning, ever-greening skills and training will become more important, and some EAs are already on this path. Craig Allen, director at Change Group says that PAs are already acquiring new skills (33%) and extending their role into other areas such as marketing, HR and finance (33%), whilst 40 per cent plan to undertake a qualification. Positively, a quarter say their roles are already evolving to ensure they remain valued and more than half maintain that robots could never replace the ‘personal touch,’ that will always be key to the EA role. He explains: “They are actively acquiring new skills and experience to ensure they have a place in the workforce long term. The fact that they have fewer options to work flexibly, or from home, than their colleagues certainly suggests that their continued presence in the workplace is vital to the smooth running of many companies.” Rachael Bonetti, EA to the people director for Australia & New Zealand at Bupa, agrees, suggesting that PAs need another specialist skill to remain relevant in the digital and mobile age. She says: “As mobile technology advances, executives are able to manage their time at speed, and remotely, so assistants need to be able to provide additional value to businesses. Senior PAs and EAs who command higher salaries must continually seek to hone their skills; it’s the extra bells and whistles on CVs that hiring managers are attracted to in this era. “Assistants have to work far harder to stay a step ahead of their bosses. By having a few other strings to the bow a great EA can add unexpected value, take on special projects and become a true extension of their manager and remain indispensable.” An advocate of training as the way forward, Mary Irwin, EA to director of Shire Infrastructure at Southern Grampians Shire Council, recently completed an Advanced Diploma in Executive Office Management. “PAs should consider training that will assist them in their current role and achieve goals in their personal development plan. Consider both local and online providers and use previous student reviews to assist in finding training that will fit your needs,” says Mary. Rachael points out that it’s never been easier to access educational tools at little to no cost: “I believe we each need to be accountable for our own learning and not wait for our employer to approve education expenditure.” Of course, it’s only natural for a skilled worker to feel anxious at the thought of automation and PAs feel no differently. But concerns over humans becoming redundant as machines take control have surfaced numerous times since the first industrial revolution. This time around, however, we genuinely are at a tipping point in business regarding the development and application of AI and automation. There is no denying the efficiency these new technologies are going to bring and, for PAs, it offers a real opportunity to dramatically improve productivity, emphasise your strategic business management role and add another skill or qualification to your toolbox. E

AI and… RECRUITMENT Deloitte research shows that recruitment remains a top concern for 87 per cent of UK business leaders, with 45 per cent planning to include AI in their recruitment process over the next five years.

HUMAN RESOURCES The HR department in your company will have one of the most important and pivotal roles to play in the future of business; identifying automation and any re-skilling needed. Deloitte’s Anne-Marie Malley explains: “Technology will increasingly disrupt the world of work and companies need to be ready. For HR specifically, this presents an enormous opportunity for the function to show leadership.”

EVENTS A recent Event Tech Talks panel in London explored how robotics will be used at events. Ivan Lian, head of technology at AI mobile event networking platform Grip, said the best step event organisers wanting to incorporate AI can take in the short term, is to talk to the people who are working creatively with the technology, rather than diving in too quickly: “We have the tools but we need domain knowledge. We need people in the event industry as partners to work with us to do what they’ve done in the medical field, where doctors are working with computer scientists.”

CORPORATE TRAVEL A study by and futurist Dr James Canton predict that by 2060 you could be checking-in to a hotel on Mars that features augmented reality, artificial intelligence and touch screen everything. Suitcases will be a thing of the past, with 3D printers to generate real-time items like shoes, computers and wearable phones. And forget about booking your boss’s transfers: selfdriving pods will help avoid traffic. Whilst such developments are still a while off, airports are already some of the most technologically advanced buildings in the world. According to Priority Pass, almost half of frequent business fliers regularly use airport mobile apps and 46 per cent expect to see high levels of automation across areas such as kiosks and check in. Tech-savvy airports in Geneva and Auckland already guide passengers through the building in a language of their choosing by robots who can recognise, read and react to emotions.



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The internet of things Of all the technology trends, the so-called ‘internet of things’ is best placed to create enormous change in the workplace – as well as presenting the most opportunity over the next few years, says Tim Stackpool. But what does it mean when everything is connected? And we mean everything... TECHNOFILE

We think nothing of the ability to carry vast amounts of computing power in our pocket; connecting us to the entirety of human knowledge via the internet. With more and more items in the office being fitted with sensors (which, of course, also connect to the web), along with technology costs falling every month, we’re well-entrenched in the realm of the internet of things. The phrase was coined many years ago, as crystal ball-gazers envisaged a world where anything with an on/off switch could connect to the web. This happens already with obvious devices but what about washing machines, the photocopier, headphones, your desk lamp, and perhaps even the chair you’re sitting on? Imagine, one day, sitting at your desk in a smartchair, which adapts its level of comfort according to how long you sit in it. Using online connectivity, it would know the effect that sitting for long periods has on your body, and could subsequently respond to your restlessness, for example. The smartchair could then compile a data-filled email at the end of each day to HR; ideally ticking an employee wellness box.

“Back in 2014, one analyst firm predicted that there would be more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020.” Back in 2014, one analyst firm predicted that there would be more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Now that we’re getting closer, the figure has been revised to exceed 100 billion. That’s a lot of devices; all with the ability to share information. So, how will this affect the EA? Well, 26


imagine you and the CEO are on the road, heading to a meeting.... Your car – if it has access to your calendar – would already know the best route to take, eliminating the need for you to fumble with Google Maps. And, if traffic is heavy, the car could automatically send an SMS to the other party to say you’ll be late. The internet of things already has alarm clocks that, while waking you, notify a connected coffee maker in the kitchen to begin brewing your daily kick-start. Similarly, leaving the house in the morning could electronically alert your favourite cafe, giving them a heads up that you’re en route for your half-skim decaf latte. Phones alert their owners that they’ll miss the train if they don’t hurry up, whilst photocopiers and printers can order toner and paper as soon as supplies fall low. Likewise, there are dishwaters on the market that order a new box of detergent when required. Returning to your smartchair, it could

– along with your connected smartwatch – analyse when and where you’re most productive. This would allow your connected project management software to arrange which tasks you should work on, specifying the best time and place for each. Meanwhile, lift manufacturers could use internet-connected services to predict the highest usage times, and which floors are required most. This would increase efficiency of moving people through the building and suggest the best pre-scheduled service time. From here, connected sensors in corridors might also track the direction and movement of staff members, with the lift doors opening as they approach. No more waiting! This may all sound like those 1950s newsreels that predicted flying cars and colonies on the moon, but the fact is that the internet of things is happening right now: the technology to collect the data is being used today. The bigger challenge will be collating, understanding and using the data... E

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Executive PA Magazine is pleased to announce, a new dedicated jobs site for PAs, senior administration professionals looking for a new challenge, and those just starting in their career. It’s also an excellent port of call for PAs involved in recruiting top level talent for their companies.

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We take a look at the latest musthave products for the office


Laptop on the go tThe ASUS PRO B9448 is a light, high-performance laptop, capable of multi-tasking and processing at great speeds. Featuring a lightweight magnesium-alloy design, it’s portable and tough; ideal for those who travel often. By means of an ultra-thin bezel of just 5.4 mm, ASUS have managed to fit a 14 inch display to a 13 inch chassis, saving both space and weight at no cost to the viewing area. Looking at the technical facts, the B9448 comes with a 7th Gen Intel CoreTM i7, up to a 512GB SSD and 8GB of ram. This kind of performance usually reduces battery life, but the B9448 battery features up to ten hours charge. INFO


Pedal at work sDon’t let your body succumb to the laziness of your desk chair:

keep your legs moving with the WIRK Orbit under desk strider. Complete with patented 360 degree hinges, the compact product gives a superb range of motion and keeps your knees at optimal height. Choose to move front to back, side to side, or even in skating and circular motions to burn calories, keep your blood flowing and stay focused on what’s on your desk. It folds neatly for storage and has large textured pedals to turn any novice into a pro. Find the best price and closest supplier online. INFO


Cork board tTiny and unobtrusive, yet oozing design flair, this mini cork pin

board is moulded into the intricate shape of an ornate picture frame. Display your to-do list or style with your favourite photos, cards and tickets to stay organised and personalise your desk. The freestanding frame can be used portrait or landscape. Interestingly, the cork comes from the cork oak tree, which lives for hundreds of years. The outer layer is harvested every nine years; a completely safe process that doesn’t harm the tree in any way. It measures 22 × 17 × 3.5cm (8.66 × 6.69 × 1.37in). INFO



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Anyone can create a video conference from their phone, but few services give the enhanced functionality that ClickMeeting provides – schedule meetings, stream audio and video, share your screen and record your events, all from this clever app.

Wrap it up tAlthough the world’s going wireless, tech

accessories often mean a tangle of wire and cables. This stylish cable and cord wrap organiser has a convenient pocket for a mouse, as well as several slots that can be adjusted to suit different carry needs: cables and cords, make-up brushes, pencils or even screwdriver tools. Obviously practical, this is the perfect office companion but may prove handy at home, or for travelling, too. Crafted traditionally, it’s handmade in Spain. INFO


Samsung raises the bar sAvailable with a 5.8 inch and a 6.2 inch display,

Samsung's latest high-end phones boast sleek design, cutting-edge hardware and an all-new intelligent user interface called Bixby (its version of Siri). The latest user interface also has Samsung SmartThings integration, which means you can control supported appliances, including lights and robot vacuums, from your phone. Specification-wise, they feature a 12MP main camera with dual-pixel autofocus, bright f/1.7 lens and improved image processing, compared to the one found in predecessors. And, of course, the camera is capable of capturing 4K video. INFO


Hipmunk FREE

The folks at Hipmunk (a travel start-up that claims to takes the agony out of travel planning) have created a business focus that allows office managers to import team calendars for easier booking. You can send flight options and allow your team to approve travel via email. INFO

Genius Scan FREE

Never worry about assembling paper notes and documents, collecting receipts or transcribing handwritten notes to a computer again. Simply take a smartphone picture of the item you want to keep and Genius Scan will turn it into a PDF. You can then email the PDF to yourself, your boss or anyone else who needs it. INFO


Cement on your desk tA great solution for desk acessories that continue to

‘disappear,’ courtesy of office borrowers. Made from concrete (!), this versatile set includes a tape dispenser, a pencil holder and a small tray to organise your desk. Not only can each be used to weigh down papers, it brings a modern element to your office, as well as being too unique to never be returned. It’s available in grey or sand coloured versions. INFO



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Living (and working) it up in Leeds and Yorkshire As the economic heart of Yorkshire, Leeds has always been good for business, says Richard Trenchard. Let’s discover what the UK’s fastest growing city has to offer today’s corporate traveller DESTINATION



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IN THIS BUZZING NORTHERN metropolis, proud Victorian and Edwardian buildings line the compact centre – not least the stunning Town Hall – and betray a successful past. One look at the skyline today tells a similar story: the upward trajectory of Bridgewater Place is visible from 25 miles away, whilst the shimmering glass of Wellington Street, and Park Square’s heritage offices, ooze coolness. Leeds is considered the most important financial centre outside of London; a powerhouse for business and legal services, and home to one of the UK’s most qualified workforces. Consistently labeled as the fastest growing city in the country after bouncing back post-recession, it also boasts the third highest concentration of firms expanding at more than 20 per cent yearon-year. GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND Although the M1, M62, and A1M all converge here, a notorious one-way system, congested inner loop, and parking problems mean clued-up PAs always suggest arriving by rail if possible. City Station offers direct Virgin Train services to London Kings Cross in just over two hours, also serving the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. Leeds Bradford Airport, just seven miles from the city centre, provides non-stop flights to many major European hubs. London City is on that list, if your boss is keen for convenience from the Big Smoke, whilst private charters are also available. You’ll need to make allowances for the journey into town, though, with taxis or limousines the only feasible option. For more choice, Manchester Airport, 55 miles west by road or rail, offers more routes than anywhere else in the country. Leeds is also incredibly walkable, meaning there should be no need to research local public transport. Taxis are plentiful too, which is worth mentioning given the Yorkshire weather.

BUSINESS IS BOOMING Statistics show how popular Leeds is as a destination for directors, CEOs, and senior businesspeople. In 2015, 60,000 conferences, meetings, and events took place here, many using one of the 20 AIM accredited venues. This means that almost four million delegates arrived during those 12 months. t

A PA in-the-know Alex Renton, Secretary at Arup and runner-up for Executive PA Media’s Up & Coming PA of the Year 2016, is based in Leeds: “Accommodation-wise, there’s a new boutique hotel opening soon; The Dakota, on Greek Street, and Malmaison is close to the station, and the hub of the city centre. Craft House in Trinity is ideal for a formal meal, and boasts fantastic city views from its cocktail bar, and I’d recommend Man Behind The Curtain for fine dining, too.”



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Taking a client to dinner? 1 For fine wines and rare meats: Head to Ham & Friends in Grand Arcade – there’s one about to open on Merrion Street, too. 1 To get into the Leeds spirit: Local beers should accompany traditional steak and ale pie in an atmospheric pub. For real brownie points, recommend Whitelocks Ale House, behind Briggate’s pedestrian thoroughfare. 1 For the best Indian cuisine: The large Asian demographic means curry houses aplenty, but The Corner Cafe, a Burley Road institution since 1976, is easily one of the best. Tell the boss that taking a car there is essential, but undoubtedly worth it.

A PA in-the-know Sue Spink, PA to the Global Water Leader at Arup and runner-up for Executive PA Media’s PA of the Year 2016, is based in Leeds: “For bosses taking sporty clients out and about, we have Elland Road Football Stadium; home to Leeds United, and Headingley Stadium for cricket and rugby. If you’re looking for swish drinks with a wow factor, head for DoubleTree by Hilton’s top floor bar. You can then go down to Granary Wharf, which hosts some hidden gems – and the Pastille Beauty Salon if your boss needs her nails done in a hurry! Above all though, the straight-talking ‘Yorkshire folk’ are very friendly and helpful!”


When it comes to meetings and events, you can forget typical facilities – this place is all about unique space. Crowned the best new venue in the world at the 2014 Stadium Awards, the first direct arena is a 13,500 capacity goliath for super-sized expos like April’s 2017 Conference and Hospitality Show. Alternatively, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, a little further out of town, can provide a theatrical take on conferencing. Creative professionalism continues at art house spot CarriageWorks, whilst the University of Leeds has a range of spaces available across its historic campus. For something equally ornate, but far fresher, Well Met’s new state-of-the-art facilities – formerly the Cloth Hall Court at Leeds Becket University – can host as few as four or as many as 300 for meetings and conferences in stunning surrounds. The local hotel scene is in strong health as a result, with more than 6,000 beds available across the city centre. This competition means average room prices remain affordable, at just £93 per night. Ultra modern options like Radisson Blu, Hilton Leeds City, and the luxurious Malmaison, contrast with historic icons such as The Queens, situated at City Station, and The Met Hotel, with its terracotta facade and cupola roof.

AFTER WORK If your boss has a free hour or two, or indeed turns a day visit for meetings into a weekend city break, they’ll quickly find out that one of the city’s most famous selling points is shopping. 32


With 1,000 stores in spitting distance of the business district, it’s easy to see why. If you’re tipping off the CEO, let them know the Victoria Gate shopping centre (an opulent old world arcade dripping in grandeur and designer boutiques like Michael Kors and Vivienne Westwood) is the place to be seen, and there’s a Harvey Nichols in the city too. Beyond shopping, there is the Leeds Varieties, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the world-famous Opera North at the stunning Grand Theatre. The Northern Ballet is also based here and, each November, one of Europe’s premiere film festivals takes over the city’s screens.

BEYOND THE SPRAWL Leeds isn’t the only professional tale this part of England has to tell, either. Leaving the city and its one million or so inhabitants behind, you’ll find pretty outlying villages such as Yeadon – a stone’s throw from Leeds Bradford Airport. Venture further north to reach picturesque Harrogate, a spa town where meetings are held in listed buildings and the pace is more relaxed. Not far from there, York’s history makes it a favourite with travellers of all kinds, whilst those opting to look south can soon find Sheffield, famed not only for its steely past, but re-invention as a major centre for creativity. A region of innumerable assets, all of which are so easy to access, it should go without saying that in Leeds and Yorkshire business is once again very good indeed. E

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Meet beyond London

London is an incredible corporate powerhouse but, as any experienced PA knows, it’s always worth shopping around for a competitive alternative. Thankfully, you don’t have to search far… Business in South East England is worth a staggering £323billion, with the region renowned for pharmaceuticals, biotech, high-tech engineering and electronics. Plus, this corner of the world has one of the highest R&D spends in the country and is home to some of the fastest growing companies in Europe. Understandably, then, South East England has plenty to offer the PAs of top level CEOs, and their most valuable players.

Britain’s gateway to the world South East England is connected – and that doesn’t just mean it’s one of the fastest telecomms networks in the UK. Excellent road and rail links mean many towns and cities can be reached with ease from the capital and other regions. Guildford, Surrey, Berkshire and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, for example, are both under an hour from Waterloo and Paddington respec34


tively. The region is also on the doorstep for major international arrivals, with both Heathrow and Gatwick – the two busiest airports in the country – located here. Our gateway to the world, this is an area of astounding beauty, exciting destinations, and exceptional facilities.

Out of the ordinary ideas When scouting suitable locations for meetings, it’s easy to grow tired of the same old and we all know there’s no excuse for average when it comes to making an impact. That’s where locations like the lush surrounds of the New Forest (a must for team building weekends) and the Rathfinny Wine Estate in Sussex, with its stunning grounds, come into play. South East England is home to a multitude of incredible, unparalleled venues that will ensure delegates get the wow factor. Head to one of the world’s most dynamic cities; Brighton & Hove,

which sits less than 60 minutes from London by rail. And, once you’re there, everything is within walking distance. You’ll get the lowdown on the area from VisitBrighton Conferences but, in a nutshell Brighton is renowned for its creativity. This makes it an ideal destination for professionals, boasting thousands of high quality hotels, including The Grand Brighton; a state-of-the-art conference space for up to 900, and iconic venues like The Royal Pavilion (also known as the Brighton Pavilion and about to benefit from a major refurbishment project), George IV’s former pleasure palace. For sky high expectations, though, nothing comes close to British Airways i360. The tallest moving viewing platform on the planet offers exceptional MICE facilities and panoramas across the smart streets below; out to the picturesque South Downs in one direction and north-

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Beyond MEETLondon

ern France in the other. It’s a spectacular setting for any purpose, with various packages available. The new Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery at Laverstoke Mill, in beautiful Hampshire countryside (yet one hour from Heathrow) is another jaw-dropper. The site is a blank canvas with everything from sophisticated conference halls to intimate rooms. Think of the historic building as providing the bottle: you just use your experience to mix the perfect ingredients for corporate success. Elsewhere, why not invite guests to lose themselves in centuries of history at Shepherd Neame? The oldest brewer in England does more than beer, with an intimate meeting space for 60 in the medieval hall and room for 150 in a theatre-style setting. Meanwhile, the atmospheric Old Brewery Store itself caters for larger occasions of up to 300. Age doesn’t mean outdated, either, with exceptional AV equipment, whilst tours and tastings are available when it’s time to entertain.

Tempting towns If your bosses are welcoming an international contingency, put yourself in visiting shoes. England and Great Britain invoke images of monarchy, and few places fit the bill more than the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Just

15 minutes from Heathrow arrivals, guests are in the heart of what Queen and Country really mean. Elizabeth II regularly weekends in this picturesque town, awash with opulent five star accommodation suitable for everything from board meetings to VIP trips, and ideal for highend clientele. Why not top off the visit with a private tour of Windsor Castle and the state apartments, a horse drawn car- A new event planning-focused portal from Tourism South East showcases the exciting array of hotels, attractions and unique venues and spaces within the region, all easily accessible for delegates travelling by car, train or plane. The impressive range includes hotels with state-of-the-art conference facilities, historic houses, sporting venues and even museums with out-of-hours facilities. Even pubs and vineyards provide a great solution for small intimate meetings, teambuilding days or breakout sessions. As the website develops, themed pages will go live with additional information relating to specific venues and prebrainstormed lists of particular genres, such as VIP incentive ideas, teambuilding inspiration and ideal outdoor spaces.

riage ride through Great Park or a luxury river cruise with Fringilla Boat Services? Guildford, in Surrey, is another fantastic option that can accommodate a multitude of requirements. Harbour Hotel is ornately furnished and has 183 equally fabulous bedrooms if the host needs to make a big impression. Denbies Wine Estate isn’t far from here, either. The largest of England’s vineyards, currently the toast of Europe, it welcomes up to 500, which in summer means using an incredible outdoor area. And, for something more personal, consider tastings and tours of the cellars. Perhaps less serene, but certainly equally distinguished and easily just as fun, Chessington World of Adventures is a great alternative venue, with accommodation for 219, themed meeting rooms (some even overlooking grazing animals) and a conference capacity of 300. It’s perfect for the type of teambuilding options you could only imagine finding in a real-life working theme park. And all this is before anyone mentions the Cathedral city of Winchester, another unique location packed with historic venues and modern alternatives for anything from six to 600 delegates. So, why not meet beyond London, where a portfolio of possibilities awaits? E INFO APRIL/MAY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM


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Go big, or go home couldn’t be more appropriate when booking a corporate retreat – big on the small details that is, explains Cora Lydon


LET’S FACE IT: when a corporate invite hits someone’s desk they’re either going to think ‘oh no, two days listening to presentations’ or ‘great! Two days in a fantastic destination, doing fantastic things!’ So, as a PA organising said business retreat you want to make sure your delegates fall firmly into the latter camp. By considering everything from your welcome to your activities you can ensure everyone leaves happy. And happy attendees mean better outcomes for business.

THE DESTINATION Budget-permitting, look into destinations renowned for luxury: Dubai, the Maldives, Mauritius and Bali are popular choices – 36


but, of course, whether the budget will stretch is another matter. If you’re staying local consider a ‘bucket list’ destination that few will have experienced, such as The Highlands in Scotland, the best place in England for star gazing (Northumberland’s International Dark Sky Park), or the Eden Valley via the Settle to Carlisle railway. “It’s becoming something of the norm for organisations to include something unique in their itineraries,” explains Sally Boyce, marketing and sales executive for Longleat and Cheddar Gorge Caves. “One way to ensure a particular event is memorable is to explore alternative event venues, separate from the traditional purpose-built event centres. A change of scenery and an ‘escape’ promotes creative and collaborative thinking. If this

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Where to go... For culture and pampering: Whisk delegates away to Bath to explore the ancient Roman baths and pair with a spa trip. For city and country: Book Manchester. The bustling city has plenty to offer delegates yet you’re just an hour from the beauty of the Peak District. For outdoors teambuilding: Head to Wales’ Pembrokeshire coast where there’s ample opportunity to plan alfresco team bonding exercises. For European adventures: Opt for Barcelona, Spain, which made number two on Cvent’s 2016 top EMA meeting destinations. Sun, fun and business await. For further afield: Consider Beijing. Its MICE offering is impressive, yet the city has many unique attractions including its Underground City, famous cuisine and The Tap Water Museum.

spirit of escape from the norm can then be supplemented with an interactive activity then you’ve found yourself truly in the realm of creating lasting memories.”

THE ARRIVAL Factor in the journey to your retreat – it should be part of the overall experience. First class train travel, door-to-door chauffeurs and the like will make sure guests arrive relaxed. If you’ve scaled back the budget to remain in the UK, see if you can stretch to a helicopter transfer. Organise a welcome reception. This could be tied to your destination – drinks on the beach in Cornwall, for example. Alternatively, organise for local musicians to provide entertainment while you meet and greet guests with drinks. If an elaborate hello isn’t suitable, or guests aren’t arriving together, a simple welcome pack with a warm greeting, seamless check-in and small welcome gift is a great way to set the tone.

THE TRAVELLING COMPANION Inviting family acknowledges and appreciates the hard work of staff, particularly those who work long hours or are away from home frequently. “Value for money will affect how much of the actual delegate programme partners can join,” explains Karen

Abela, project executive at Conventions Malta. “Whilst the delegates are busy at work, a company may opt to have interesting day programmes planned for the partners. Some hotels might also have shuttle buses connecting the hotel to the main points of interest in the area for the more adventurous who would prefer to go it alone. “We have had programmes where partners can immerse themselves into Maltese heritage, such as visits to a local bakery with a class in baking the famous crusty Maltese bread, wine tasting at our award-winning wineries, or a lesson at sculpting the soft Maltese limestone which has been used for centuries to build the beautiful honey-coloured houses and palaces,” continues Karen.

THE THANK YOU Invest in a farewell party that says thanks to your staff and motivates them for the year ahead. But, if you’re a smaller sized group and can’t throw a big party, take a day in your itinerary and have a one-day escape. Plan a day trip and include some fun activities to allow attendees time to unwind. If you do organise a celebration event, invest in great entertainment and theming – don’t cut corners. Showing staff they’re valued and appreciated is the biggest investment you can make so, if you’re able to treat them, why not do so? E APRIL/MAY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM


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Travel the world with Executive PA magazine Now running international hosted buyer programmes in Asia, Australia and the UK* +44 (0)207 236 1118 | | *PAs who want to travel with us must complete online registration process

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CORPORATE HOSPITALITY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION Corporate hospitality is making a comeback and this time it’s not just about the entertainment – it’s now a crucial part of any marketing strategy. Here’s what you need to know, says Cora Lydon t EVENTS



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Whilst traditional advertising – like radio, TV or print – communicates a brand visually or verbally, experiential marketing is all about helping people experience a brand, by calling on as many senses as possible. It’s about creating emotional connections between your company and the people you’re targeting, to help increase loyalty and form purchasing decisions. For this you’ll need to do some serious outside-of-the-box thinking to come up with ways that your guests can see, feel, hear, smell and experience your brand as part of the hospitality option. How about organising a day-in-the-life of one of your company’s products? Here, guests could see how it’s created from start to finish and you could organise competitions where your product or service is used to enter (with people from the brand on-hand to enthuse about what they do, of course!) Remember, don’t just show: think of as many creative, feasible ways as you can to get people experiencing your product or service – but at all costs keep it fun. A great example comes from mega-brand Ikea, who organised an in-store sleepover. One hundred winners were treated to massages and manicures and had a bedtime story read to them by a reality TV star, whilst a sleep expert was on-hand with advice – and to help people pick a new mattress, conveniently from the Ikea range.

Any PA worth their salt knows it’s vital that any corporate hospitality has a return on investment and you can help achieve this by delivering what clients want. Before booking anything, find out what your intended guests are interested in and base your plans on this. In the past, formal experiences were popular but today’s generation of businessperson wants some-

Small budget? No matter your budget you can still incorporate some form of corporate hospitality: 1 Rethink food options – a standing buffet will be less formal and cheaper than a sit-down meal, and allows networking. 1 If there’s something of note about your place of work (unusual architecture, a state-of-the-art factory, some history?), invite guests to tour it. 1 Instead of trying to put on a star-studded glittering ball for guests, purchase tickets to such an event and get everything you want but with far less outlay. 1 You may not be able to afford VIP seats to the World Cup final – so recreate it on a budget by booking out a sports bar, showing the game and laying on food and drinks. 1 Taking a group to a major festival could be out but why not explore smaller, regional festivals that offer better value for money? 1 Look for the up-and-coming, rather than the currently trendy. Not only will it save you some hard cash but you’ll be responsible for introducing guests to the latest trend, future ‘it’ bar or dining hotspot-to-be.

thing more relaxed, and money-can’t-buy options will have perennial appeal. Don’t just take your guests to Wimbledon – enhance the event by staging a meet and greet with the tennis stars. And if you’re planning a trip to the Royal Opera House, enquire about a behind-the-scenes tour to round off the hospitality offering.





In the past corporate hospitality was often about who had the deepest pockets and the way to impress was to book the most expensive tickets available. Now, the focus is on bespoke options – this often means more work for the PA in charge of pulling it all together, however the pay-off is far higher. A customised approach will make your delegates feel valued so, instead of just opting for the standard hospitality option from a brochure; speak to your provider about how they can elevate the event. Tailor the experience to your guests and also to the brand message you want to convey.

When the focus was on big-money tickets, food, of course, was 40


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Win a teambuilding experience at The Lensbury

part of that. But it was rarely the star of the show. Today’s delegates are likely to be real foodies who’ll relish the chance to try the unusual, the outrageous and the finest cuisine. Expectations of what’s served up are high, so consider making part of the hospitality play to this with a cocktail-making experience, the chance to see a top chef in action or having guests forage for their menu’s ingredients beforehand. Sustainability and locality is also a growing trend so opt for local ingredients and famed dishes from the region – and highlight these aspects to your guests.



The global landscape is rapidly altering thanks to climate change and, ultimately, there are some regions and natural wonders that will become history in our lifetime. So, entice delegates with a rare opportunity. Think the dying corals of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the sinking city of Venice, and the melting glaciers of The Alps. But remember, inviting guests with hospitality to one of these means it’s absolutely crucial to ensure the trip isn’t adding to the burden – use hotels with strong sustainable policies, off-set air miles and be as environmentally-friendly as possible. E

The Lensbury is a four star hotel, conference centre and premium leisure club located in 25 acres of grounds on the banks of the river Thames at Teddington in west London. It is an independent venue renowned for its fantastic sports facilities where professional teams train. The conference centre, food and service have all been awarded with accreditations of the highest standard. The Lensbury is an excellent venue for teambuilding. With its riverside location and Watersports Centre, activities on the water are a speciality and The Lensbury team offers sessions in raft building, kayaking, fun regattas and dragon boat racing. Dragon boats are set to be a major feature at The Lensbury for this summer, as two new boats have been purchased by the venue. As well as water-based activities for delegates, the team can run challenges on land, such as Earth Ball games. The Earth Ball is unique to The Lensbury in the UK and offers an infinite number of games which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and levels of fitness. In addition there are treasure hunts, retro sports day and tennis tournaments.

HOW TO ENTER To win a teambuilding experience at The Lensbury for you and your team (up to 50 people) this summer, enter our prize draw by completing your details at offers/win-teambuilding. Choose from raft-building, dragon boating, Earth Ball, treasure hunt or retro sports day. INFO For more information contact on 020 8614 6500 or visit the website at



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Visiting delegates would all agree that a business trip to New Zealand is well worth the 24+ hours it takes to get there, writes Cora Lydon DESTINATION

DON’T LET the long flight be a barrier to experiencing one of the most magical places on earth – instead think of the travel as part of the experience. Treat the boss or delegates to first class if you can, so they arrive in comfort. Once they arrive, the sweeping panoramas, stunning landscapes and alfresco lifestyle can make a business trip to New Zealand a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On the most part, the climate is pretty mild and you can expect the weather to be kinder than it is in the UK. The North Island has a sub-tropical climate with warm temperatures, while the South Island tends to be cooler. Most of the rainfall occurs in winter and spring – which is the summer and autumn in the UK due to seasonal differences. There’s also the chance to thoroughly immerse delegates in the culture of the country. In New Zealand, Maori is firmly embed42


ded in the way of life. Around 15 per cent of the total population is Maori and so their customs, heritage and language are practiced in parliament and business, as well as in day-to-day living. Locals are renowned for the warm welcome they extend to visitors. The unique Kiwi way of making people feel welcome and comfortable – known as manaakitanga – means you can relax in the knowledge that delegates you’re hosting in the country will be well looked after and supported.

SAFETY Despite concerns over natural disasters, international visitor numbers are still growing; up by 11 per cent in 2016. By the year 2022, the total number of visitors to the country is expected to reach 4.5 million. But, as New Zealand sits on the notorious ‘Ring

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THE GREAT OUTDOORS It’s no surprise that New Zealand is home to a great number of inventions; the majority of which are centered around recreation. Zorbing; the high speed amphibian car; the jet pack; the referee whistle; the jet boat; artificial reef for surfing; sheeb (cycling monorail) and bungy jumping all originated in the country. The gorgeous landscapes, exceptional climate and the fact that noone is ever more than 75 miles from the sea means opportunities for outdoor activities for teambuilding are abundant. Luxury options are never too far from delegates’ reach either. Last September, Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) walked away from Sydney’s Luxperience trade show with the coveted ‘Destination Award,’ which is given to the place that best incorporates luxury travel as a key contributor to attracting visitors – and it’s the second year running TNZ has walked away with this honour.


of Fire,’ earthquakes are not uncommon. Heavy quakes in 2010, 2011 and 2016 created billions of dollars worth of damage to key cities. Should a major earthquake hit while the boss is there, they should follow the instructions of local authorities quickly. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence & Emergency Management offers advice on emergencies in the country. That being said, the Kiwis are quick to recover and create new opportunities in the midst of adversity – whether temporary or not. Christchurch, which suffered heavily in 2011, and again last year, has already been transformed beyond recognition. Pop-up shops and buildings ensured the area didn’t suffer further, while formerly out-of-fashion districts thrived.

GETTING AROUND The overall use of public transport in New Zealand is low, according to the Ministry for the Environment, with only around 2.5 per cent of trips using these services. The main form of public transport is bus, though Auckland and Wellington also have suburban rail systems and some cities offer ferry services, too. In the South Island, the famous TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific trains operate, while visiting the length of the North Island is the Overlander, offering train services between the cities. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, costing around NZ$2-3 per km when travelling inner-city.

Despite the fact that there are number of large corporations operating in the country, New Zealand has a bigger proportion of small businesses than in many other developed countries. Due to this, you’ll find that organisational structure tends to be quite flat and team spirit is high. Meetings may include managers and employees, who collaborate closely day-to-day. Despite its reputation for relaxed business, New Zealand can also be deceptively formal; similar to the formalities you’d experience in the UK. You may note that dress codes tend to be stricter than you’re used to, so if the boss has meetings lined up ensure they have something suitable to wear. The boss should also be aware of the importance of timekeeping: punctuality is part of New Zealand’s culture and many social events commence on time. On this occasion, being fashionably late could create the wrong impression. Business locals will appreciate the directness of facts and figures at meetings so it’s always best for the boss to be direct and open, especially when pitching for new business. International business has always been important to the economy and New Zealand can certainly compete on a global scale. Currently under construction and set to be complete in 2019 is the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC). At an impressive 35,500 square metres, the space will be capable of hosting around 3,000 delegates in a range of versatile conference, exhibition and entertainment spaces. Its location in Auckland places it within walking distance of more than 4,500 4* or more hotel rooms, as well as having the vibrant waterfront and a number of attractions on its doorstep. E

Watch your language It’s also worth noting a few phrases that differ between the UK and New Zealand… 1 A flip flop is a ‘jandal’ and ‘togs’ are your swimming costume 1 If someone says they’re ‘off to the dairy,’ it doesn’t mean they’re going to milk cows – rather, they’re popping to the corner shop 1 If the boss requests tea, they shouldn’t be surprised if they get served up a dinner rather than a hot drink 1 Wellies – the saviour of the British winter – actually makes reference to the capital city of Wellington.



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Ask the concierge Jim Cameron, head concierge at The Wellesley, Knightsbridge, recommends some of the top dining spots in the capital CORPORATE DINING


Mr Chow

If you’re looking to indulge in Chinese fine dining, look no further than Mr Chow in Knightsbridge. Serving upscale Beijing cuisine by executive chef Tim Leaf, Mr Chow has become known for chefs performing hand-pulled, Beijing-style, noodle-making each night. Less than five minutes’ walk from The Wellesley, this is a great Chinese restaurant for a special occasion. INFO



Bringing a little bit of Scotland to London, Boisdale is a lively restaurant situated in Belgravia. With live jazz music every night, fantastic Scottish steaks and an extensive whisky menu, it really does cater for all your corporate and leisure needs. The traditional décor brings to life the Scottish roots, and I can guarantee you’ll have a great night here! INFO

Mosimann’s Restaurant

One of the most prestigious private dining clubs in the world, Mosimann’s is a wonderful family-run restaurant, helmed by legendary chef Anton Mosimann and his two sons. The unusual exterior and beautiful setting is what I love about Mosimann’s. It enjoys the luxurious and intimate atmosphere of a stunningly-converted 19th century church in the heart of Belgravia. INFO


Boisdale of Belgravia

Authentic Italian dishes, created by talented head chef Sebastiano Cioffi, are the order of the day at The Wellesley’s own Oval Restaurant. It’s an intimate eatery and the perfect setting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, offering fresh flavours and seasonal dishes. Be sure to try one of the kitchen’s stone-baked pizzas; perfect every time. INFO


Oval Restaurant


Boasting some of the best views over London, SUSHISAMBA is on the 38th and 39th floor of 110 Bishopsgate, offering a blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. It has the highest outdoor dining terraces in Europe and an amazing structural orange tree, forming the centre piece of the bar. Whether you pop in for eye-catching cocktails or the delicious food, it’ll definitely be an experience you won’t forget. INFO E Our thanks to Jim and The Wellesley, Knightsbridge:



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A PI N 17 M 0 LY DO e 2 O N n LO Ju 5 –1 3 1

OVER 700 EXHIBITORS FROM THE UK AND AROUND THE WORLD UNDER ONE ROOF The Meetings Show is the premier event for the meetings & events industry in the UK, with over 3,000 industry professionals gathering under one roof for three days of business & networking opportunities. Now well-established in its fifth edition, the 2017 show will be bigger than ever before with unmissable opportunities for visitors to network and connect with hundreds of exhibitors with the power to enhance their business.

Don’t miss it. Register now.

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Promotional feature

The Meetings Show Personal development and education to take centre stage at The Meetings Show Once again, PAs will have the opportunity to learn and network with industry colleagues at The Meetings Show, with registration now live for the 2017 event. Taking place between 13th and 15th June at London Olympia, it’s set to be the biggest show to date with 700 exhibitors and plenty of opportunities for knowledge sharing and skill development. You’ll be able to network with an impressive range of destination, venue and industry suppliers, including Dubai Convention & Events Bureau, Croatia National Tourist Board, London & Partners, VisitScotland, Hilton Worldwide, Kempinski Hotels and Hyatt Hotels. Become a hosted buyer For the ultimate show experience, EAs can apply to attend as a hosted buyer; a flexible option that includes return travel to the event, one or two nights’ accommodation, food and refreshments in private lounges on the show floor, as well as the chance to pre-book appointments with exhibitors relevant to your business. Kelley Donnelly, meetings services manager at Parexel, attended as a hosted buyer last year. She said: “The Meetings Show has an excellent range of suppliers

from all over the world. It opens up a new world of possibilities; I met some really good new contacts with regard to venues and the education sessions were fantastic.”

Time to learn A bumper education programme is expected, exceeding that of previous years with more than 80 sessions from industry experts on topics ranging from exploring the current state of the industry and the potential impact of Brexit, to insights on best practice, negotiations and engagement. Education streams will include technology, marketing and branding, meeting design, healthcare, and leadership and management, as well as dedicated content for PAs.

Attending the show? Look out for these sessions, likely to be of particular interest to PAs... 1 Why networking is a fundamental business skill – you’ll appreciate the need to be a confident and effective networker, whilst learning how to set yourself apart from the crowd. In particular, it’ll focus on destroying fear, breaking the ice and leaving every event with a potential business opportunity. 1 The art of selling an idea – this session will help you better understand effective presentation and speaking techniques through a focus on ways to creatively sell an idea using psychology and preparation, whether it’s to a client, colleague, boss or in a personal relationship.

After the event Post-event tours are the ultimate way for hosted buyers to understand a destination as they take the knowledge gained during conversations at the show and turn it into a first-hand experience where they can truly comprehend what’s on offer. This year, buyers will head to exciting destinations across the UK and Europe including Brussels, Bath and Bristol. E INFO



Don’t forget The networking activity begins on 12th June with the show’s annual welcome reception. Exhibitors will join in, with several leading hotel chains and technology providers planning showcases, dinners and parties throughout the week. Visit The Meetings Show website for further details.

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Gastronomer’s guide Gareth Rayner, head chef at The Coach House at Middleton Lodge, in North Yorkshire, shares the delicious details of his signature dish CORPORATE DINING


Cured salmon with cauliflower, curry granola and sea herbs, with curry mayonnaise

“The Coach House is located in the heart of rural North Yorkshire, however I grew up and still live in Hartlepool, so I am always keen to use as many fish dishes as possible. “This dish has actually been on the menu from when we first launched in 2014, however, over the past two years, it’s evolved to what it is today. Every time it changes, the tastes and flavours just get more and more vibrant. The curried granola came from my research on social media: it’s such a great way of finding out what other chefs are up to and taking inspiration from one another’s dishes. “Where possible, the menu is locally sourced and seasonal to the region. We’re just putting the finishing touches to our kitchen garden – we’ll use its vegetables, herbs and fruits in every dish that leaves this kitchen.”


Gareth Rayner

Gareth has been at the helm of The Coach House at Middleton Lodge since its launch in October 2014 and developed a strong reputation, receiving five AA Gold Stars and a recommendation in the Michelin Food Guide for 2015 and 2016. His menu celebrates well-loved British dishes; some of the most renowned including chargrilled broccoli with Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico bellota, hazelnuts and aged parmesan, as well as his rhubarb and custard cheesecake with rhubarb sorbet. E Our thanks to Gareth and The Coach House at Middleton Lodge, North Yorkshire:



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Want to know the latest venue to unveil a new look or fling open its doors?


Raising the roof on the river If you’re hosting a summer soirée in the city, a rooftop garden party will certainly create a wow-factor. Private hire of Harmony, one of the vessels of restaurant cruise company Bateaux London, starts at £120 per person, for a minimum of 100 guests, and is available from May until the end of September. Decorated in a charming English garden theme, the spectacular open viewing deck will treat partygoers to a three-and-a-half-hour cruise past iconic landmarks, with music, drinks and nibbles on hand. Timings can be tailored to suit and departures are from Embankment Pier. INFO


An exquisite countryside escape Does your boss have some top clients to wine and dine? If so, the spring 2017 opening from Michael Caines, one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, may take their fancy. Lympstone Manor is the perfect rural escape; not far from Exeter and easily accessible by car, train or plane. Surrounded by rolling countryside, the Georgian mansion offers private dining, bespoke wine tastings and cellar tours, as well as vineyard visits, exceptional cuisine and truly luxurious rooms. Also available on an exclusive-use basis, it can accommodate up to 42 residents; ideal for a team away day or two. INFO




Shuffleboard and a stay As the oil and gas industry shows signs of picking up, Europe’s energy capital is upping its accommodation game. Marriott sub-brand Moxy (above) has made its UK debut with the launch of the Moxy Aberdeen Airport (with further openings to include London Excel, London Stratford and London Heathrow). Next to the airport, and just 20 minutes from the city centre, it offers 200 stylish guest rooms and flexible meeting rooms where the table doubles as a shuffleboard, giving delegates the opportunity to reenergise with a quick game! Meanwhile, a four-star 200-room

Hilton hotel (below) will be checking in next to the AECC, the largest exhibition and conference complex in the north-east of Scotland. INFO


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Don’t risk your reputation on an untrusted venue BIRMINGHAM

Be bespoke in Birmingham Canalside is Birmingham’s newest venue; a contemporary and flexible events space in a beautiful inner-city setting. Located within Birmingham’s iconic landmark; The Cube, Canalside is a blank canvas for planners who have an individual event in mind.

Packages can be tailored to suit between 50 and 400 guests and there’s also the opportunity to bring the outdoors inside, with doors that open directly onto the canal towpath. INFO


Sometimes it pays to be late Following a £200,000 refurbishment, The Mermaid London’s Newgate Suite has been transformed into a flexible, contemporary events space, offering interchangeable walls, complete with built-in whiteboards. The space can be completely branded and hired in its entirety for up to 500, or broken down to offer

four rooms with capacities from 70 to 144. The convenient city venue, located on the Thames in Blackfriars, has also launched its first late-availability programme, where competitive rates are available for bookings made within a three-week lead time. INFO


Anything’s possible The Grove in Hertfordshire, just 20 minutes from London, is offering a new, inspiring and flexible space for clients who wish to completely customise meetings and events. At capacity, The Grove’s event space can host 700, but it can be divided into three character-filled rooms, each with connected

breakout spaces and natural daylight. It’s full of bespoke furniture, flooring and art, as well as natural materials and earthy colours. For events lasting a couple of days, the hotel has 215 stylish bedrooms, three restaurants and bars, a spa and outdoor space. INFO

The right venue can make or break an event. There’s nothing worse than having every last detail perfectly planned, only to be let down by service or facilities when you arrive. With such a wide variety of venues across the country, and online review sites often being a mixed bag of positives and negatives, finding somewhere your event is guaranteed to be in safe hands isn’t always easy. Thankfully, there are some assurances you can look for that will help give you peace of mind when booking your next event. Industry accreditation is one of the key things to check for when searching for a venue. If they hold an accreditation, such as AIM (the UK’s nationally recognised standard for venues and service providers), it’s a guarantee that independent assessors have made sure the venue meets strict criteria for the quality of its facilities and standard of its event delivery. A certification like AIM covers every element of a venue from customer service to legal compliance and will even check the food is up to scratch and the heating is suitable for all seasons. Venues that go above and beyond the standard requirements may have further levels of endorsement, such as AIM Gold. Such accolades are only awarded to the best of the best and are re-assessed every three years to ensure the benchmark is maintained. Industry awards are another good way of judging a venue. If a panel of trade experts have considered a site to be the best of its type in the country then it’s likely to be a good choice. Reader-voted awards, such as the M&IT awards, are also an excellent seal of approval as they rely on the agreement of other event professionals. So, next time you start a venue search, look out for accreditations and awards – it can significantly help to narrow down your options, leaving you free to plan the finer details and ensure your event is remembered for all the right reasons. E



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All the latest news for the corporate traveller

Collaborative workspace in the air Qatar Airways is launching new flexible seating from June. Complete with adjustable panels and movable TV monitors, the set-up allows four passengers to work and dine together (enjoying an enhanced culinary concept with sharing options) in a large premium suite. The space opens into a double bed for private post-work relaxation.

Laptops on planes – what’s going on? It was announced in March that the UK would follow the US with a ban on large electronic devices on inbound flights from certain countries – namely Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Passengers are no longer allowed phones, laptops or tablets exceeding 16cm long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep in their hand luggage. Unsurprisingly, there’s already unrest and concern from the business travel community about these additional security measures, which experts suggest will be long-term. David Chapple, portfolio director at the Business Travel Show, says the most important thing PAs can do is not worry about what you can’t control. Instead, focus on the things you can. In

this case, that means the time between check-in and getting on the plane. Emirates is allowing travellers to use laptops after check-in; pre-boarding, before removing them at the gate. But if your boss isn’t flying with Emirates, they can invest in a cloudbased service like Dropbox to ensure documents are kept in a secure, accessible environment and not on the laptop's hard drive. By signing up to Priority Pass, they’ll get lounge entry at many airports and, therefore, access to computers to work at before boarding. Above all, ensure your mobile workforce travelling from affected airports is aware of the new regulations. Delays at security will be likely, so advise them to allow additional check-in time.

Time and money savings soon add up when you take the train New research suggests passengers could save almost £164 million and 234 minutes per year if they ditched taxis for express train transfers between four London airports and central London. The Gatwick Express saves a staggering 41 minutes compared to a taxi. Meanwhile, a typical taxi fare from Stansted 50


to central London will cost more than £120 – new train fares start from £7. And now, for the first time, passengers flying from Edinburgh to Gatwick, Heathrow, London Luton and Stansted can buy express rail tickets into central London from a team of Edinburgh Airport-based sales agents.

Trump causes travel tremors Almost half (45%) of employers are concerned about business travel as a result of the latest version of President Trump’s executive order, banning travel from six countries. A survey of 400 global business travel managers revealed more than a fifth of travellers recently faced delays or harassment crossing the US border. However, only four per cent of respondents said they were significantly rethinking doing business with the US.

Private jets at business class prices The world’s first fully-automated private jet booking platform launched in January, with high hopes of revolutionising the private aviation industry. Stratajet uses sophisticated new price comparison technology so that PAs can quickly compare prices, locations and planes to completely personalise the journey for the boss.

Disability-friendly travel Booking travel is trouble-free for those who can hop, skip and jump onto a plane or into a hotel – but if someone you arrange travel for has a disability, hearing or sight impairments, a broken limb, or is pregnant, it may not be so easy. Innovative platform Accommable showcases global providers that cater specifically for travellers who need assistance, such as step-free hotels, those offering scooter hire, pool hoists, grab rails and adjustable beds.

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Connecting business across the UK Arriva UK Trains’ r network reaches far and wide; CrossCountryy, Chiltern Railways, Grand Central, Arriva Trains Wales and Northern operate a range of services, from rural commuter lines to long distance and inter-urban journeys. Arriva UK Trains connects the three countries of Great Britain and collectively runs 4,186 services each weekday.


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Connecting people and communities to what’s important to them.


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Explore ways to make your business rail travel more effffective – connect with us at:

Stay connected with Executive PA Magazine Worldwide

Follow the Executive PA Magazine LinkedIn company page



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Your invitation to network at our exclusive reader events

Start your day at The Shard Readers are invited to a high class networking breakfast at The View from The Shard 14 JUNE

Situated at the top of one of London’s most iconic buildings, 800 feet above the streets of the capital, The View from The Shard offers event space with unparalleled 360° views. Designed by Renzo Piano, The Shard is Western Europe's tallest building, allowing guests to see up to 40 miles away. Sky high corporate event options include breakfast gettogethers to take in sunrise, evenings under the stars and even extremely elevated yoga classes. PAs can choose from two viewing platforms: the triple height level 69 and the open air Sky Deck on level 72. Together these platforms can hold up to 400 guests in the summer months, or 300 during the rest of the year. However, the space is available to smaller groups too, for very special private dinners. These magnificent views are accessed from entry level, where digital screens can be branded for your event. And, from here, high speed lifts – travelling at six metres per second – will deliver your guests to The View in less than a minute. An excellent range of approved suppliers means that any catering or AV requirement can be delivered – with the team having previously installed a garden, built a two-tonne igloo and accommodated stilt walkers, nothing is too much to ask. A team of guest ambassadors will be on hand to aid the smooth running of your event, and there is a highly 52


professional, discreet security team, too. With the whole of the city as your backdrop and an attitude that anything is possible, this could be the perfect place to dazzle your guests. READER EVENT Executive PA Magazine readers are invited to The View from The Shard on Wednesday 14th June at 8am for a delicious seasonal breakfast, paired with a glass of champagne for those who wish. You will take a tour of The View, discovering all that the venue has to offer, then have the opportunity to network and admire the surroundings. To apply to attend please visit our website at: INFO

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Your invitation to network at our exclusive reader events

North London glamour An evening of luxury within two of Camden Market’s most vibrant and exclusive venues 18 MAY

The Camden Dining Group operates a portfolio of successful venues located in the capital, with the majority – Shaka Zulu, Gilgamesh, Ginger Martini and The Cuban – in the lively Camden area. Gilgamesh, an internationally famous pan-Asian restaurant, opened 11 years ago in the heart of Camden Stables Market, offering an elaborate Eastern-chic gastronomic and nightlife experience, complete with wood carvings and an open kitchen. The breathtaking restaurant features a fully retractable roof, an amazing cocktail list and multiple lounges where your boss’ guests can experience premier quality cuisine, including delicious master-crafted sushi. It features a large open plan space in its restaurant, accommodating up to 220 guests for a seated dinner, 170 for a dinner dance or 800 for a standing reception. The Lounge Bar and Babylon Lounge can host 200 and 250 respectively, whilst a chef’s table and break-out rooms are also available. Shaka Zulu, London’s largest South African restaurant, opened its doors in 2010 with a special blessing from the Zulu King, HRH Goodwill Zwelithini. Set over a groundbreaking 27,000 square feet in The Stables Market, this spectacular two-floor restaurant, bar and club offers amazing authentic food, drinks, live music and dancing.

It can cater for a variety of events and, with a fullyequipped green room and state-of-the-art Martin Audio sound system, it’s particularly suited to hosting live performers. The full venue can accommodate 750 standing, 350 seated on the lower level and 110 seated on the mezzanine. READER EVENT Executive PA Magazine readers are invited to an opulent evening within these flamboyant venues on Thursday 18th May, from 6pm. The event will begin at Shaka Zulu where guests can discover the extensive range of cocktails and exotic culinary delights – crocodile, springbok, zebra and ostrich to name a few. There’ll be a chance to check out the beautiful mezzanine level, which houses a champagne bar and lounge bar, then PAs will head down to the main restaurant. Here, you’ll be wowed by an incredible fire breather and contortionist. If you’ve got some music in you, bring the tour to life and get involved in a session with the talented African drummers! You’ll then make your way to the award-winning Gilgamesh, where canapés, signature cocktails and entertainment await. Next up is Ginger Martini, the venue’s cocktail bar overlooking the charming market. Here, PAs can taste the tipples and be amazed by performers. The Lounge will be your final stop and guests will be invited to try further delights that Gilgamesh has to offer. To apply to attend please visit INFO




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We hear from last year’s award winners about the experience they had when they took up their prize


Shangri-La Hotel: the facts Location: The hotel is just across the river from The City of London, and a 15-minute river taxi ride from Canary Wharf. MICE details: Three river-facing event spaces: Ren, Li and Yi, accommodating up to 200 guests. Rooms: Offering unrivalled London views from floor-to-ceiling windows and filled with natural light, the hotel offers 185 finely appointed guestrooms and 17 spectacular suites, located between levels 36 and 50 of Renzo Piano’s iconic Shard.

Bed, breakfast and cocktails at The Shard When Sue Barter picked up her Executive PA Media award for Outstanding Contribution in 2016, she had another treat in store too: a luxurious, sky high prize After almost five decades of commitment and dedication, Sue was nominated by colleagues at her current workplace; Two Rivers Housing. At the not-for-profit housing association she’s regarded as a ‘stalwart,’ and is always the one people go to for advice and information. Reflecting on her career, Sue says: “The tools of the trade have changed dramatically, and office dress code has also changed. Working for an American company in the early 1970s, a woman could only wear trousers if they formed part of a trouser suit. Ironically, miniskirts were encouraged! Things have improved drastically in my working life, and working here is a far cry and massive improvement from the smokefilled offices of years ago, and thumping away on a manual typewriter.” 54


So, after almost five decades as a hardworking PA, London’s five-star Shangri-La Hotel was the prize destination for Sue and her husband, Richard. The twosome enjoyed an overnight stay at the plush hotel, situated within Western Europe’s tallest building; The Shard. Sue said: “No hotel we stay in now will ever match up to Shangri-La. We were truly spoiled and couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome – the staff were wonderful. Our room on the 37th floor overlooked HMS Belfast, the City of London and Tower Bridge, and the breakfasts, afternoon tea and cocktails were fantastic. The memory of our stay will remain with us forever – and I’d definitely recommend the hotel for business and incentive.” INFO

Booking a room for clients? Here’s what they can expect: 1 Shangri-La bed featuring patented body contouring technology 1 A marble bathroom with heated floors, a bathtub, walk-in shower and mirror with integrated TV 1 Automatic climate control that complements the building’s integrated sun shielding 1 Nespresso coffee machine and Chinese tea set 1 Set of binoculars and a viewing guide 1 Access to guest amenities, including an infinity pool, 24hour gym and in-room spa therapies, as well as hotel limousines and private shopping services What else? Iconic City View rooms have an iPad with digital newspaper access, whilst all suites offer a butler service.

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Every issue we’ll report back from the last issue’s reader events – were you there and captured on camera?

At the heart of London Taking its name from one of London’s best-known landmarks, the Amba Hotel Marble Arch is perfectly positioned for doing business in the capital. Our readers found out more... Twenty-eight PAs joined the Executive PA Media team at the chic Amba Hotel in early January, for a networking and show around of this stylish Bryanston Street venue.

On-the-night PA feedback... “I just wanted to say a big thank you for the kind hospitality during our visit to the Amba Hotel Marble Arch. It’s in a great location and would suit us when organising team conferences off-site, as well as when our executives are visiting our London office.” Maureen Thompson, Executive Assistant at HSBC

After some delicious canapés and a Heads or Tails challenge, where one lucky PA bagged a stay at the hotel (congrats Tina!), there was an opportunity to network with fellow EAs, the magazine team and, of course, the Amba Hotel hosts. PAs were invited to explore the cutting-edge meeting rooms, which can accommodate anything from intimate meetings for two to conferences for 500, and offer comfort, style and smart technology. They heard that bookings come with a dedicated event coordinator and a specialist AV team, making the process as seamless as possible. And every room comes with unlimited coffee at the touch of a button – what more could your boss want? INFO

Amba Hotel Marble Arch: the facts By tube: Two-minute walk from Marble Arch By train: Ten-minute taxi to London Victoria, Paddington and Marylebone By car: APCOA Bryanston Street car park (at additional charge) MICE details: 1 13 flexible rooms for two to 500 guests 1 Unlimited WiFi, TVs, interactive screens, projectors, conference phones, USB ports 1 Bespoke menus, complimentary snacks and unlimited coffee Rooms: 692 in total; including studio apartments, suites, executive kings and twins, deluxe kings and twins, standard doubles and twins, and accessible rooms. Booking a room for clients? Here’s what they can expect: 1 Smart TVs, fast and free WiFi, in-room tablet, USB ports and the option to sync your own device 1 Seriously comfy beds, black-out curtains, a rainfall shower and demister mirrors 1 Free-mini bar and great coffee on-demand 1 Complimentary gym access What else? There’s a restaurant, deli, bar – and a concierge service too!



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We hear from last year’s award winners about the experience they had when they took up their prize


Hotel Villa Honegg This unique five-star boutique hotel on the Bürgenstock offers relaxation and privacy, high above Lake Lucerne.

The most beautiful place on Earth As if being the winner of Executive PA Media’s 2016 Up & Coming PA of the Year wasn’t enough, we treated winner Shona Fraser to a trip to scenic Lake Lucerne in Switzerland A true emerging talent, Shona is PA to the site director at Scotland-based Finsbury Food Group, which manufactures cakes, slices and bites for the likes of Thorntons, Disney, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. At the end of January, Shona and her other half travelled first class to spend four nights in sumptuous Swiss surroundings. She said: “We spent two nights in the Grand Hotel National Luzern and two nights in Villa Honegg. We felt like royalty. The staff couldn’t have done more for us and, as it was my birthday they made the stay extremely special with a gorgeous birthday cake made by the chef.” Shona continues: “The weather was glorious. We visited Mount Pilatus, 56


which you can sledge down, did a boat tour to Weggis and went up Mount Rigi so that we could go on one of the mountain railways. We did a lot of wandering around too; sampling the traditional Swiss food and beers. “I’d 100 per cent recommend Lucerne as an amazing holiday destination. It was beautiful with all the snow and I’d love to go again in the summer. “It was the trip of a lifetime, which I’ll treasure forever. For everyone who was involved in helping me win the award, I can’t thank them enough.” The luxurious trip was a collaboration between Executive PA Media, Crone Corkill and the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau.

Accessibility: One hour from Zurich International Airport Events: Conference room, meeting room, 20seater cinema and private villa Rooms: Natural materials create an inviting and relaxing ambiance in the 23 rooms and suites Cuisine: Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients served in the stylish restaurant or on the lake view terrace Amenities: One of Switzerland’s most celebrated wellness facilities, it includes a heated outdoor pool, sauna, steam bath, spa and gym INFO

Grand Hotel National Luzern Founded in 1870, the five-star hotel blends tradition with modern and luxurious comfort. Accessibility: 45 minutes from Zurich International Airport Events: From glamorous corporate celebrations to professional meetings and seminars, up to 250 guests can be accommodated Rooms: 19th century style blended with modern facilities, including Italian marble bathrooms, luxurious rugs and hand-woven carpets Cuisine: Four restaurants, a bar and a coffee shop Amenities: Pool, sauna and treatment area INFO

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We hear from last year’s award winners about the experience they had when they took up their prize


The Sanger team said... “The team was really helpful and knowledgeable, and put us at ease from the get go. We felt lucky to have been given the opportunity to use the technology and equipment to be able to make a film – none of us had ever experienced this before, and we learned a lot about filming. It’s so much more than point and shoot! The day was so much fun that we were on such a high at the end of it all!”

Filming all in a day’s work EA Jo Jones nominated Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Sanger Institute, for Boss of the Year 2016 and, when he secured the accolade, their team had an inspiring day out of the office into the bargain Offering space at 40 central London venues or sessions in your own office, City Academy designs and delivers tailored and practical experiences using the performing and creative arts, inspiring clients that include the BBC, Disney, Google UK, KPMG and Hilton Worldwide. The eclectic team of 120 from across the performance and creative industries – including artists, singers, actors, dancers, voice coaches, filmmakers and more – welcomes any size of group, with anything in mind. “We’ve had lawyers forming a choir, top social media firms doing diva dance, architects acting and even bankers doing burlesque,” says sales director, Peter Spring. For the Sanger team, it was all about

becoming a film crew for the day; creating a trailer from scratch – with expert help on-hand, of course. Jo Jones, Executive Personal Assistant to Professor Sir Mike Stratton, explains: “We brainstormed different genres and plots, which then spiralled into who would do what – actor, cameraman, clapper board, director, and so on. We chose roles we wouldn’t necessarily have gone for – we were definitely out of our comfort zones. Some were more apprehensive than others, but as the day went on we all got on with the task in hand.” They came up with the characters, wrote the script, cast real-life actors and planned the shoot. Next, they directed, recorded sound and shot their

own footage. Finally, they sat back to see a rough cut of the trailer and enjoyed a low-key awards ceremony. Peter continues: “The team had to use a wide range of communication skills, including negotiation, idea creation as a group and delegation. They also learned new skills, both technical and creative. Each member of the team got something from the experience; not to mention their very own footage for posterity!” Jo adds: “I don’t think any one of us wanted it to end. It was such a great day – spending quality time, without any business distractions, with the team was wonderful. I’d thoroughly recommend it as a team building exercise, no question.” INFO APRIL/MAY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM


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Resolve your event planner’s dilemmas in Frankfurt How can we inject creativity into our meetings and events, tackle industry issues and predict future trends – all on restricted time and budget? Take a step towards solving the typical planner’s dilemmas this May, at IMEX in Frankfurt EVENTS

If you’re heading to IMEX between 16th and 18th May, make sure you arrive a few days early to take advantage of a newly launched, free of charge programme, developed for corporate event and travel bookers, offering insights and advice on planning problems. The inspiring, information-packed event begins on Sunday 14th May with a dinner at Hilton Hotel Frankfurt. And, on Monday, Exclusively Corporate will offer an informal breakfast networking event hosted by Dubai Business Events, followed by a packed day of free education and networking. Content for Exclusively Corporate was developed after extensive research and development, input from past IMEX attendees and collaboration with planners across the globe, and the line-up includes: Travel trends Experts from GSK, Barclays Investment Bank and ITW will examine worldwide trends and emerging destinations, as well as exploring how issues such as culture, costs, politics, economics and security impact on destination selection.

Creative, cost-effective events MAC Cosmetics, EY, Fidelity International and ASEA will explain the evolution of event formats, uncovering how you can inject innovation and creativity on a budget, whilst dealing with internal resistance to doing things differently.


manage a global team and cover the best ways to measure and demonstrate ROI.

Strategic global event management

Operational issues

Targeted to senior event professionals, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Dell Germany and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG will share tips for managing global relationships with venues and agencies, explore how to build and

Designed for event managers, The LEGO Group, Eli Lilly & Company and ITW will advise on negotiating hotel contracts. They’ll also explain how to recognise and respect cultural differences and discuss their effects on event planning.


The following three days, PAs and EAs can spend time exploring the 3,500 exhibitors at IMEX in Frankfurt, discovering new destinations and suppliers, seeing the latest event industry technologies up close and networking with other corporate event and travel planners. E INFO For further details and to register to attend Exclusively Corporate see and, for updates during the lead-up to the event, follow the hashtag #IMEX17

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The UK’s biggest gathering of event professionals Exhibition organisers Mash Media revealed a dramatic spike in visitor attendance when International Confex, the Event Production Show and office* opened their doors to EAs and other event specialists in March EVENTS

For the first time, the three shows colocated at Olympia London and, ahead of fully audited numbers from the exhibition, early indications report a year-onyear spike of 35 per cent for International Confex and an impressive 69 per cent for the Event Production Show. Meanwhile, office* almost trebled its visitor numbers from 2016’s event. International Confex and the Event Production Show gave a unique view on the services and trends influencing event management across the UK, whilst office* was aimed specifically at secretarial professionals, continuing to be the very best exhibition for support services and content. The two days were full of excitement, passion and learning, with the business being done considered solid and productive for exhibitors and visitors alike. Duncan Siegle, Event Director at the Event Production Show, said: “The content across the shows was outstanding and no doubt contributed to the quality and volume of the visitors we saw.” On the last day of the event, Mash Media revealed the fourth live exhibition to be added to its portfolio: The Festival & Outdoor Event Show. Scheduled for 27th and 28th September 2017 at Surrey’s Sandown Park Racecourse, the inaugural event will offer business opportunities, education and networking to the outdoor events industry. E

“I think it’s always best to go to these free-toattend events as you can find some really great businesses you didn’t even know existed. The Event Production Show was really interesting and definitely sent my imagination into overdrive, thinking of how I can organise our spring party, in terms of decorations, music and food. At Confex I got great advice on facility matters and met some events companies who chatted through options for team away days. I also spoke with a genius organisation who provide a beauty service in the office: manicures, pedicures and massages for men and women – all you need to do is book a meeting room. Our social committee is already working on it! All in all, I’ll definitely attend this event again!” Attendee Kate Leonard, Team Assistant, Informa Group

“An eclectic but balanced seminar programme across the keynote and seminar spaces provided awesome learning and networking opportunities. And it was great to see the VA Conference as part of office* this year, enabling those who wouldn’t normally get to this particular event to learn more about the VA industry and network alongside established VAs.” Attendee, exhibitor and speaker, Amanda Johnston, VA coach and trainer, VACT Limited



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SCOTT GILES EA to CEO of Southampton FC

We talk career history, defining moments and future plans with Scott Giles, who, as EA to Southampton CEO Gareth Rogers, has a hand in helping Southampton Football Club storm up the Premier League How did you become an Executive Assistant? It was purely by chance and, actually, a result of trying to join the Royal Navy aged 17. During the entry tests, I found out I was colour blind and it was suggested that rewiring weapons probably wasn’t for me! The Navy were keen for me to join, though, and offered me a role as a writer, which involved intense training and a stint at typing school – in just two weeks I could touch type at more than 60 words per minute. I was very close 60


to not getting through the specialist training and being discharged, which would have felt like such a failure to me at the time. Succeeding has shaped my career to this day. After ten years in administration on land and at sea, my commander advised me to focus on ‘being a PA’ going forwards, as that’s where she thought I’d excel. Shortly after, I was offered a PA position, working for several senior managers at British American Tobacco (BAT). I was lucky enough to travel as part of the role,

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organising global conferences, but also managed the football team at head office, and was on the Sports & Social Committee, which leads me nicely to where I am now!

Tell us what it’s like working for a Premier League football club... After 15 years at BAT and 18 years living and working in London, I was keen for a change. And, after two rounds of interviews – including a presentation to the CEO on how I’d make a difference in my first 90 days – I relocated. Working for the club is all about results on the pitch and, by everyone working to the best of their ability, the first team have the best chance of finishing as high up the league as possible. For me, this means covering the usual responsibilities that go with the very busy and constantly changing diary of the CEO, as well as organising and minute-taking at executive board meetings. But it’s my role on match day – involving hospitality for our executive board, visiting executives, the senior management team and their guests – which I find most rewarding. It’s incredibly busy and, as there are so many changes right up until kickoff, it pays to do some tasks as late as possible, even if it is cutting it fine at times. Nothing beats the buzz of match day, and it’s important to me that our guests leave with a great impression of the club and our hospitality.

You’re a keen football fan yourself – to what extent does this passion help your role? It certainly helps to be involved in an industry I’ve loved since I was seven-years-old but I think it’s just as important to work with great people who love what they do. For example, I’ve never smoked but worked for BAT, found the role interesting and had a lot of fun. So yes, football is a huge passion for me but, if I didn’t work with these people or the club was poorly run then I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have lasted long. I’d obviously recommend other PAs go for roles in organisations they’re passionate about, but wouldn’t advise holding out for a job in an industry that appeals to you more than others. For me, it’s just a happy coincidence.

Above Gareth Rogers, CEO, Southampton FC

What’s your relationship with your boss like? After more than two and a half years, I have a good understanding of how the CEO operates, he understands how I work and I have a great relationship with his family – it’s a family oriented club, so this is important. He gives me the freedom to get on with things and trusts my decision-making.

How do you manage your work-life balance? Much better since relocating: my commute is now 30 minutes on a very bad day, as opposed to 60 on a good day in London. I work hard when I’m in the office and have my phone on hand when home. My boss is great when it comes to flexible working, although I get much more done working on a big screen in the office than I do on a laptop at home, so seldom work from home. Christmas is probably the only time that a job in football affects me more than it would in any other role – games come thick and fast in December and throughout the festive period. But I’m not complaining – when I tell my friends I’m off to work on match day they just laugh!

What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Leaving British American Tobacco. They paid very well and the benefits were excellent – but in my final two years I noticed my role had become mundane and I decided I didn’t want to do it any longer. I assumed my CV was strong, having worked for 15 years in a FTSE 100 London-based company. But the job search wasn’t as easy as I’d anticipated. I aimed high but underestimated how much the interview process had changed and how stiff the competition would be. After getting down to the final few in several roles and being unsuccessful, I started to doubt my skills and wondered if I should lower my expectations. Then, out of the blue, I got an e-mail asking whether I’d consider relocating to be the EA to the CEO of a Premier League football team. The rest is history!

How do you see your career progressing?

In my spare time... I love to get out and about on my bike and, in May, I’m part of a group cycling 180 miles over two days from Stoke to Southampton. We’ll be raising funds for the Saints Foundation, which inspires, supports and delivers positive change for young people and adults at risk in the community. We aim to arrive in time for kick-off in the final game of the season, as Southampton play Stoke City on Sunday 21st May.

As long as I’m happy, still learning and feel I’m contributing significantly to supporting the CEO and the club, I’d like to think I’ll still be in the same role in five years. The club is excellently run, has great people in place and there are many things in the pipeline so I’m genuinely excited for what lies ahead. E

Southampton Football Club St Mary’s Stadium, Britannia Road, Southampton SO14 5FP Number of employees: 342



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PROVIDING COUNSEL Ana Cox isn’t advising you to start analysing your manager, but what she does ask is whether you’ve considered using counselling skills in your work? TRAINING

In my job as a therapist, people are often surprised to hear that I was a PA for many years. They seem to think the two roles are poles apart and that my having been a PA has no connection to my work now. This is totally wrong, as it’s my belief that the years in my previous career helped me hone skills essential to my role now. In fact, I also believe it’d be beneficial for all assistants to bear counselling skills in mind when working with their managers. The main benefit of bringing counselling skills into your role is developing a positive, and therefore more productive, relationship, which will be robust at times of pressure and lead to greater achievement of goals. Still not convinced? Here are some of the basic skills that counsellors use with their clients, adapted by me for use by PAs, to help you build working relationships by sending out positive signals – try them out! Remember, although some of these skills may sound easy, obvious, or like something you do already, the chances are that when the pressure is on, deadlines are looming and your to do list is rapidly growing, these measures will be the first thing to go – and those are the times they’re likely to be of most help.





Try to really be present with your boss. Maintain eye contact so there’s a connection. Nods of the head, leaning forwards and mirroring body language can also be much more powerful than you may think.


Reflecting and paraphrasing

In counselling, a reflection is pretty much what it says on the tin – reverting back to a person with what you understand from what they’ve said, either by just a single word or a paraphrase of the whole sentence. Doing this in day-to-day conversation will let your manager know they’ve been heard. And the benefit to you? They’ll be less inclined to feel the need to check up on their instruction.



This helps your boss to feel understood. A good way to clarify is by using open questions that really get to the centre of what’s required. Open questions generally begin with a how, what, why, who or where, whereas the opposite, closed questions, are those simply answered by yes or no.




When a counsellor offers empathy, they attempt to put themselves in the shoes of their client and see what it feels like to be them. Look at things through your boss’s eyes: the urgent report they want completed by the end of the day also becomes your urgency, rather than a pressure point you have no connection with and, therefore, resent.


Unconditional positive regard

In counselling, this is seen as the conveyance of warm acceptance of both the negative and positive, with no demand for personal gratification. In other words, maintain warmth and respect for your manager through thick and thin.



This is where a counsellor is genuine to themselves; being honest in a measured and gentle way. For a PA, this could be seen as a risky manoeuvre but within the framework of the relationship described above you should feel comfortable and able to express yourself in a non-defensive and unpretentious way. E


This is akin to having an agenda for a meeting. Concreteness involves being focused on facts and relevant concerns, thereby avoiding discussions around abstracts. This can help you avoid conversations where your manager thought you were both talking about X and you thought you were talking about Y. Avoiding these crossed wire conversations feeds a healthy relationship.

Ana Cox is an accredited counsellor with the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. Having worked in various agencies and schools she now concentrates on working in private practice with a focus on her special interests, which include bicultural identity, stress and anxiety. INFO

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Time to work out your emotional muscles? Adding value doesn’t always have to have a practical slant, says Jenni Hallam. Working on your emotional resilience can be just as beneficial TRAINING

Imagine you know two people employed by the same organisation, in equivalent roles. One day, they’re both faced with an unexpected challenge, which requires a similar level of work under pressure to meet a tight deadline. One welcomes the challenge, gets organised and takes it in their stride. The other complains, struggles and fails to meet the deadline. What’s the quality that makes the difference for these two people? The answer is emotional resilience. This is the quality that determines, to a great degree, how you respond to stress, pressure and challenge – irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. It affects your performance, your aspirations and your daily wellbeing. How’s your emotional strength? Try answering these eight questions. Give yourself a score between 0 (I never do this) and 5 (I always do this). Do I see it through even when it’s tough? 012345

Do I take responsibility for getting what I want, rather than relying on others? 012345

Do I take time to plan and prioritise what needs to be done? 012345

Do I always give 100%, even when doing something I don’t enjoy? 012345

Do I stick with things and always finish them? 012345

Do I ask for help when I need it, and allow others to help me? 012345

Do I recognise my own strengths & talents? 012345

Do I react well to challenge and change, knowing I’ll always cope? 012345



Work your emotional muscles Where and when are you strongest? Success breeds success. Focus on your strengths and work out how you do what you do well. What is your mindset when you are seeing it through? What words do you use in your self-talk? Where do you want to be stronger? Did you score three or below on any of the questions? Write down the score you’d like in 30 days time. Why don’t you? If you are not asking for help where you need it, what stops you? Observe yourself in action – what is your mindset? How do you feel about asking for help and why? Act ‘as if!’ If you applied the mindset, self talk and feelings of your strongest situation in the

situation you want to improve, how would it be different? Rinse and repeat! To create new habits, we need to repeat patterns. Keep acting ‘as if’ and use the mindset, self-talk and feelings of your strongest habit within the habit you want to change. E

Jenni Hallam is a personal development specialist, working with professionals to help them streamline life and achieve success with no compromise on health and happiness. She has been helping people develop their careers for 30 years, through teaching, lecturing, mentoring, psychology and personal development. INFO

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Prove your worth with passion Executive PA Media is an enthusiastic champion of the power of the foundation created by quality education but, if studying isn’t an option, there are other excellent ways you can remain current and valuable to your employer TRAINING

Expanding on her insightful comments in this issue’s Thought Leaders feature, EA Rachael Bonetti suggests how PAs can develop new skills in a hands-on manner, as an alternative or addition to gaining great industry qualifications. To explore your study options, she suggests the following: 1 Think about your passion and talents. Finding the time to fit in study is easier for things we enjoy. So, what are you naturally great at, or what do you gravitate to? It could be social media management, websites and intranet, graphics, project management, content creation, digital document storage, or something completely different. When you have an idea, work out how that passion can be used in working life. There’s nearly always a way to align the two. 1 Choose a course that’s self-paced, to fit in with your life. Online study can often be paused so, if you have a long journey to work, use this time to absorb the material. Alternatively, squeeze in 30 minutes at lunch, or a weekend power hour. 1 Study a specific unit rather than an entire course – it may be that you only need the knowledge from a particular area to get started. 1 Subscribe to a few podcasts on the topic. There are many valuable podcasts, and an episode a week is easy to fit in with busy lives, given the portability. There are plenty of opportunities to develop skills in the workplace too, says Rachael: 1 Work out who your ‘sponsor’ is. Who is the person that will support you to become involved in special work? Who values your contribution most? This will be the person best placed to sing your praises and ensure you’re front of mind for special projects – ask them to help identify opportunities and support your efforts to become involved.

1 As a PA, you’re in prime position to hear about projects, research and new initiatives before they’re off the ground. Don’t be shy to throw your hat into the ring – the modern workplace supports this approach. 1 Write a list of attributes your manager might not be aware of – previous study, a passion, project or hobby… anything that highlights your curiosity beyond your core role. And be armed with this if you have to influence decision-making around what you can become involved in. Let’s say a transformation project is on the horizon – perhaps you’re a quiet achiever and managers don’t realise you’re systemsavvy and already have great ideas on improvements and efficiency enhancement. Speak up and say you’ll be the champion for your area or volunteer to be on a steering committee, so they have a user perspective. This will raise your profile and

give you new experience for your CV. 1 Find a mentor in the office who isn’t an administration professional. Their point of view and guidance can be invaluable to stretch thinking and in becoming more strategic. 1 Finally, appreciate that it might not happen instantly: you may have to knock on a few doors but if you keep on expressing an interest and display a great attitude, it will happen. E

Rachael Bonetti is the EA to the people director for Australia and New Zealand at Bupa, and has high level international experience supporting chairmen and CEOs in broadcast media, children’s media, mining, corporate advisory, investment banking and property. She has also studied journalism and social media marketing.



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All the career news and advice executive-level PAs need

Nurturing the leaders of tomorrow In the era of permanent cost-cutting, organisations are becoming leaner, executive ranks are routinely thinned and fewer opportunities for advancement means a regular churn of management talent. As a result, positive corporate cultures fail to take root, an organisation’s stated values falter for want of champions and role models are thin on the ground. In these lean times, when organisations have few, if any, mentors on hand, one source of experience is often overlooked: the EA. Their knowledge of company culture, exposure to the highest levels of company business, and generally speaking a greater stability of tenure, makes PAs ideal mentor material. While it may not occur to a company’s leadership to tap a PA on the shoulder to undertake an in-house mentoring role, it is certainly something you should consider. Apart from providing a measure of variety

to your working day, mentoring provides a fulfilling opportunity to develop fresh emerging talent. Peter Wilson, author of Make Mentoring Work (Major Street), says that the relationship between mentor and mentee enables young professionals and future leaders to learn from the experience and wisdom of older peers: “The essential value from mentoring comes from the fact that reading and ‘doing’ on the job won’t be enough to equip a modern worker or emerging leader with sufficient knowledge to understand and acquire [necessary] skills and experiences.” These skills and experiences include: handling complex personalities and human relationships; managing stakeholders, power structures and building networks; managing uncertainty and ambiguity; and resolving challenging, ethical and moral dilemmas.

PAs will recognise these attributes as being part and parcel of their every working day; so second-nature that the seasoned PA may not realise these are valuable skill sets that could benefit future leaders. Wilson says the characteristics of a successful mentor include wisdom, credibility, patience and the ability to communicate directly and clearly. Again: snap. An issue for busy PAs is likely to be not whether they have the skills to act as a mentor, but the time. That’s true. But it’s equally true that there can be few experiences so rewarding as nurturing the leaders of tomorrow.

Leo D’Angelo Fisher is a business journalist, author and commentator, and was former associate editor with BRW. INFO

Twitter: @DAngeloFisher

Face your fears and negotiate a pay rise Negotiation is one of the most important skills you can master; both at work and in your personal life, but it can be stressful and difficult at the best of times. Studies suggest we’re far more confident when negotiating on behalf of others; be it team members, clients or our employer. However, when we start to negotiate for something that matters personally to us – such as a pay rise – we often lose confidence and our performance suffers. Here are a few tips on effectively negotiating your salary whilst managing your nerves and fears:


what matters to your employer. Establish: Establish what really matters. Is it the number or is it benefits, such as flexible hours or home working? Ask: Plan plenty of proposal options in advance and have a clear first choice. Be precise and avoid using a range – they only hear the lower end and you only hear the upper end. Persevere: Don’t accept defeat as soon as you hear a ‘no’. Suggest your next choice, incorporating different elements of a potential package. Have a strategy to keep the conversation alive or request a followup meeting.


Don’t think negotiation is greedy, selfish or unacceptable

It’s been done for generations. And if you don’t ask for yourself, who will? Trust your gut instinct that you deserve this, and stick to your guns. This will help you stay confident, focused and assertive.

Try the REAP approach 2

Research: Conduct some industry base lining. The Hays Salary Guide is a useful tool: watch out for our latest edition in June. Compile your contributions and value to the company and understand 66

to a nervous wreck, take steps in advance to manage this. Simple techniques, like deep breaths and counting to ten can help. Also, practice projecting a more powerful state of mind through body language.


Acknowledge your nerves and use them to your advantage

A few nerves may actually enhance focus and performance. However, if you know negotiating your salary might reduce you

Alex Jones is senior regional director at Hays Office Support

Necklace made of monkey incisors and beads. Collected from the Ese Ejja on the Heath River by Percy Fawcett in 1910.

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