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ALL WRAPPED UP This year, more than any other, we should look to reward our staff, team members and clients. Discover what gifting options Molton Brown and others have for Christmas 2020

PA PROFILE Matthew Want is EA to Lucy Brazier, the leading authority on PAs. He discusses his career and top tips

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HOW TO... Industry experts provide guides on how to run virtual events and look after your team members

TEAM-BUILDING As with everything else, team-building has pivoted to virtual. But there are some great options available

PLUS Find out about the PA Life virtual Christmas Party, our annual awards for PAs and a new Club offer!

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WELCOME... As we go to press on this issue, many parts of the country are once again facing strict restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and concerns are high that the entire UK is headed for some kind of ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown. These are trying times, for sure. And, for most PAs, EAs and other Administrative Assistants, it has meant an increase in workload – whether that’s due to communications being slower with remote working, or because they have taken on additional responsibilities because of other staff and roles being made redundant. In addition – like all of us – they’ve been learning new skills for this post-Covid working environment. Few of us had heard of, let alone used, Zoom until a few months back. But now, as with Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing platforms, businesses are continuing to run smoothly thanks to these virtual meeting systems. Meanwhile, keeping staff connected, motivated and ‘well’ has become a major issue for companies of all sizes – and often this challenge is falling to Administrative Assistants. Traditional team-building events and Christmas parties are off the agenda for now, but a flurry of new opportunities have emerged in their place. From Lego-building ‘play’ activities, to virtual culinary masterclasses, to more ‘traditional’ virtual quizzes and escape rooms, there are plenty of fun and innovative activities for you to enjoy. We provide a round-up of them on pages 24-31.

“These are trying times. And for most Assistants, it has meant an increase in workload. We salute you.” Of course, ‘tis the season to be giving, so we take a look at gifting options too, to allow you to thank your staff, team members and clients for their support and efforts. And if you’d like the chance to win a gift for yourself, make sure you check out the competition on page 11 where Harrods is giving away a fantastic Beauty Advent Calendar. Talking of gifts for yourself, if you’re not already a member of the PA Life Club, now’s the time to take advantage of our special membership offer. Join now for just £9.99 and you’ll enjoy a huge range of benefits, including some exclusive upcoming virtual events. Turn to page 36 to find out more. Meanwhile, on page 37 you’ll discover details of our upcoming Virtual Christmas Party. We may not be able to meet in person, but we’ll be bringing plenty of festive cheer and fun to your homes on December 3rd. The event will also include the presentation of our annual PA Life Awards. There are five accolades to win this year, namely Rising Star, VA of the Year, PA Life Club Member of the Year, PA of the Year and, new for 2020, MultiTasker of the Year. This award will go to an Assistant who has gone beyond the call of duty to take on additional responsibilites during the pandemic and lockdown. Whether or not you pick up an award, we salute you all for your resilience during this most challenging of years. We will now be taking a break from publishing this magazine until the spring. But the palife.co.uk website will continue to bring you news, advice and analysis as ever. We look forward to seeing you all again in brighter times in 2021. Lisa Carter, Associate Editor


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“We should honour the seasons and rhythms of nature. The shorter, colder days are an invitation for us to slow down.”

Hello Darkness, my old friend The darker nights and colder weather are dreaded by many – and this year we have the pandemic to add to our angst. But autumn and winter can be a time for restoration, says transformational coach and healer Amy Gallagher... As we move into the final months of the year, I’ve noticed a heavier energy in my clients and the people around me. Of course, the continuation of COVID contributes to this. The common belief in everyone is it’s going to be harder to tolerate the pandemic and its restrictions as we journey into the darker part of the year without the usual festive parties and get-togethers. I might be in the minority, but I’m actually welcoming the autumn/winter months without the obligatory Christmas parties and annual drunken meet-ups. Why? Because I believe we should honour the seasons and the rhythms of nature. The shorter, colder days are an invitation for us to slow down, to go inwards and settle into the darkness. It’s in the darkness where we can find stillness, connect deeply to our intuition, have our big moments of inspiration and plant internal seeds that will sprout and grow into our visions next spring. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars,” said Martin Luther King... It’s in the darkness where we can rest and restore. This is what our bodies and minds crave. We can’t keep being busy all the time, always doing. This is what creates the imbalances within us, the

tiredness, the depletion, the exhaustion, the illnesses. And more than ever we need to be mindful of keeping our immune systems strong and healthy. Here are some tips on how to embrace the change of pace and the onset of winter: Long autumnal walks in nature – for me, autumn is the prettiest season. I love the different hues and colours that adorn nature at this time. Regular walks in nature will enable you to get your much-needed fresh air as well as regular exercise. Sleep more – it’s natural to have less energy at this time of year and to want to sleep more and move less. Honour what your body is asking for and go to bed earlier or give yourself time and space to have that extra hour in bed on a Saturday and Sunday. Remember, our body heals and restores itself during slumber. Adjust your diet – your body will be craving warming stews and soups during the winter months rather than cold, raw salads. Fill yourself up on grounding veggies. There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of steaming hot soup on a cold winter’s day. Slower movement – as a yoga

teacher, I honour the seasons and adjust my practice accordingly. During the winter months, I take more time to warm up and wind down. My practice is still strong but it’s slower. Take some time to review your exercise regime and slow it down if it feels too fast and forced for this time of year. Create a reading list – being indoors more can sometimes invite more mindless scrolling on social media. Instead, create a reading list of all the books you’ve been eyeing up or ask friends for recommendations. Reading in the warmth of your home (in front of an open fire if you’re lucky) is a beautiful pastime and encourages stillness and calm. Rather than waging a war against the shorter days of winter, learn to see the darkness as a source of comfort and restoration. This year I’m so grateful I don’t have to battle with the dreaded FOMO within and drag myself to parties that disappoint. This year, I’m embracing the darkness and the solitude it brings. I am offering FREE 30-minute consultations for anyone in need of support during these times. Please email me: amy@amy-gallagher.com to arrange an appointment.


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Matthew Want

As Executive Assistant to Lucy Brazier – the leading authority on Administrative Assistants – Matthew Want has a tough job managing his boss’s diary, as well as living up to the examples she sets to PAs around the world. He tells all to Lisa Carter...


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Always take advantage of learning – there’s so much out there, so many free resources. Be a sponge. Things are changing on a daily basis. You need to be ahead of the curve in order to stay in this role. How did you begin your career as an Assistant? Before I was an assistant, I worked in a garden centre and also ran a taxi company with my father. Lucy came into the office one evening to get a taxi and, while she was waiting, we got talking. I really wanted to get into events, but there weren’t a lot of opportunities where I lived in Shepperton at that time. I said this to Lucy and she said she could help me with that. I thought she was a crazy woman who I’d probably never see again. Fast forward a couple of months, there was a meeting at the local Chamber of Commerce, and both Lucy and I were there, and volunteered to help with organising the Christmas event in our local village. That event normally had about 600 people singing carols under a tree. The first year we took it over, we closed off the High Street, had around 40 different food stalls, real reindeer – and we had around 8,000 people attend. At that time, Lucy had only had Executive Secretary magazine for about a year and she asked if I’d like to join her and do some admin a couple of days a week. 18 months later, she asked if I’d become her Assistant. And that’s where it all started. I never thought I’d be an Assistant, but it’s been a really interesting career path. What new skills did you have to learn? One of the main ones was trying not to run before I could walk. When I first started I was 22 and I didn’t have much experience, other than having done some fund-raising. But I wanted to be a top-level Assistant straight away. A lot of people do it – reaching for it before they’re ready. There’s something new to learn all the time, and particularly over the last eight months. It’s been a complete change for everyone. This time last year, we were hosting live events, now we’re thinking that we may not be able to do them early next year too. We’ve had to learn how to host digital events. And that just shows that an Assistant’s role is changing all the time – and you have to keep up. What advice would you give to someone looking at a career as an Assistant? Go for it! It’s one of the most rewarding roles you can take on. It’s not the most acknowledged roles within companies, but it is definitely one of most rewarding I’ve done. You have to remember that it’s not just your Executive you’re working for, but it’s the company as well. You’re helping your Executive to be the best they can be, but at the end of the day it’s the company that’s paying you. Always take advantage of learning – there’s so much out

there, so many free resources such as webinars, etc. Be a sponge; things are changing on a daily basis. You need to be ahead of the curve to stay in this role. Describe a typical working day. With the amount of time Lucy has spent travelling over the years, I’d say that I spend about 90% of my time working at home. So when Covid hit, I didn’t find it much different. A lot of people found it hard to adjust, but I’ve been okay. Probably better, as before Covid, I found it difficult to switch off at the end of the day; now I try to make myself do so. In terms of my day, I start around 8.30am and check my inbox, plus Lucy’s inbox, and then check the tasks for the day for both Lucy and I. We always catch-up in the morning too, even if it’s just a ten-minute Whatsapp call. I finish by 5.30. Lucy and I have an agreement that we finish then. I’m around in the evenings if something is urgent, but otherwise things can wait till the morning. It’s important to have boundaries like that. What are the most challenging parts of your job? Back in the old days of travelling, it was planning events and managing Lucy’s travel plans. Last July we had two ExecSecLIVE events back to back in Wellington and Sydney. I organise those, so things like delegates, speakers, etc. While doing that, Lucy was travelling to 10 different countries, so I was managing her travel too. It was a challenge! With the pandemic, I think that many of us have found that not having to juggle so many things has been a great way to streamline working practices, and to look at priorities. When things go back to normal, I don’t think many of us will want to go back to those old ways. But I also think this period has shown companies that things can work without us all having to go at 100 miles an hour! And what are the most enjoyable aspects of the job? Being able to travel, especially going to events and meeting other Assistants from around the world. If it gets to the point where we can’t travel again, at least we have been able to do that. I’ve met so many amazing people who I see as mentors and friends. What do you think are the key areas of stress for Assistants? Being able to manage their Execs effectively. I’ve heard of execs who don’t necessarily play ball – their Assistants aren’t allowed access to their calendars or inboxes, for example. How can you manage things if don’t have access? For example, I look through Lucy’s ‘Sent’ folder every morning to see what’s


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happening, or to see if she’s requested meetings and forgotten to CC me in. What are your top tips? Time blocking is really useful. I have a list of things to do each day and I’ll stick them in the calendar. So, for example, 9-10am is looking at emails, 11am-12pm I might edit something on the website, etc, etc. It’s really useful because it helps me manage my time, and both Lucy and I know what we’re doing and what the priorities are. I would also recommend having an email ‘triage’ system. When I started working with Lucy she had 50,000 emails in her inbox. I sat for a week trying to sort them out, but it was unmanageable, particularly with more coming in each day! So we put them all in a folder called ‘Past Help’. Now we have a five-folder system: ‘Today’ – it needs to be done today ‘This Week’ – needs to cleared this week

‘FYI’ – emails that don’t need to be actioned, but might be of interest to Lucy ‘Dealt With’ – as the name suggests ‘To Be Deleted’ – this means that Lucy can have a quick look through each day and emails can be restored if something’s been missed [Please feel free to email Matthew – mwant@ executivesecretary.com for a copy of the Email Triage PDF] Another key thing is to have a good level of communication with your exec. If things do get to the point where you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you have a good relationship, you can discuss priorities, etc with them. How has Covid-19 affected you and other Assistants? I had to isolate for three months, so that affected my mental health somewhat. Professionally, I’ve gone from travelling and the fast pace of organising live events. We have hosted the ExecSecTech event online which attracted over 1,000 people,


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Expand your network, but also keep connected. Don’t just use your network when you need it. It needs to be nurtured, SDUWLFXODUO\DWWKLVGLIÀFXOWWLPH2WKHUSHRSOHDUHJRLQJ through the same issues. but it’s not the same buzz as an in-person event. Within the Assistant community in general, I know a lot of people have found it difficult working from home. And particularly the Government’s advice of ‘work from home’, ‘go back to the office’ and now ‘work from home’. It’s tough for everyone. We also know that with the furlough scheme coming to an end, many Assistants have been made redundant, which is awful. What can the Assistant community in general do to help itself? Expand your network, but also keep connected. Don’t just use your network when you need it. Your network needs to be nurtured, particularly at this difficult time. Other people are going through the same issues.

What’s the biggest threat to Assistants? Artificial Intelligence is definitely one of them – will Alexa steal your job? But if you make your exec the best they can be, AI can’t do that. It doesn’t have instincts or the ability to think ahead. Again, make sure you’re learning new things all the time to avoid becoming obsolete. The most important lessons you’ve learnt from Lucy? Be yourself. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Be genuine. Be up-to-date. And use your network. What would you be doing if you weren’t an Assistant? Maybe an astronaut [laughs]. That’s what I wanted to be when I was a kid. But, seriously, probably something in events or management. But I really enjoy my role as an Assistant. I never thought it would be something I’d do, but I’m glad I did it!


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Win a Harrods Beauty Advent Calendar courtesy of Harrods Corporate Service Harrods is proud to announce its 2020 Beauty Advent Calendar. A joyful experience to have in your home throughout the festive season, with each day unveiling a must- have beauty essential, selected from the renowned Harrods beauty halls.

Enclosed in a deep, forest green casing and adorned with a delicate, snowy set illustration of Harrods iconic façade, the 25 drawers contain a covetable curation of the most sought-after, exciting beauty products from around the world. From skincare saviours such as Augustinus Bader’s exquisite face oil to scented treats from Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge and their delectable mini candle as well as makeup to see you through the festive season...cue Natasha Denona’s Chroma topcoat for the eyes, the Harrods Advent Calendar will give you nothing short of 25 little bursts of joy through the festive season. Harrods 2020 Beauty Advent Calendar includes: - 111Skin Rose Gold Eye Masks - Acqua di Parma Colonia and Body Cream set - Augustinus Bader Face oil - Chantecaille Gold Recovery Mask - Darphin Cleansing Balm - Decorte AQ Absolute Bright Cream - Dr Barbara Sturm

- Dr Sebagh Serum Repair - Fresh Vitamin Nectar Mask - Goldfaden MD Eye Concentrate - Guerlain Orchidee Cream - Hourglass Veil Setting powder - Huda Beauty Power Bullet lipstick - Laura Mercier Rouge Essential - Living Proof Color Care shampoo - MFK Baccarat Rouge 540 Candle - Murad Multi-acid peel - Nars Longwear Eyeliner - Natasha Denona Chrome top coat - Natura Bisse Tensolift neck cream - Rodial Bee Venom Cream - Shiseido Ultimune Concentrate - Slip Scunchies x 3 set - Sunday Riley CEO Vita. C - Valmont Renewing Pack


To stand a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:

How many luxury beauty products are included in the Harrods Beauty Advent Calendar?

Email your answer, along with your name to competition@palife.co.uk and you’ll be entered into the prize draw.

Harrods Corporate Service will select and deliver client and colleague gifts for the season from any department across the iconic store from the world-renowned Food Halls and exquisite Beauty Halls to Technology, Fine Jewellery and Home & Lifestyle. For more information and to order corporate gifts for the season please call Harrods Corporate Service on +44 (0)20 7225 5994, email corporate.service@harrods.com or visit harrods.com


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Why not create bespoke gifts for your team that will make them feel extra special?

How to treat your co-workers There’s no team without tea, apparently. And teapigs’ Co-Founder & Tea Taster Louise Cheadle offers some advice on how you can treat your team this Christmas… 2020 has been quite a year so far! With all the changes to the working world, we’ve had more and more requests from companies wanting to send their employees a little something as a pick-me-up and say thanks for all their hard work. Plus, with the festive season just around the corner, thoughts are quickly turning to getting the shopping list ticked off and hosting alternative Christmas parties. If that’s the case for your business, you’re in luck! teapigs have got just the range of gift bundles and online events to suit your needs. Here’s a quick ‘how to’ guide to help you keep your team’s spirits high while people are working from home. 1. Keeping it simple? If you’re after a fab winter favourite then

look no further than classic festive gifts. Whether it’s our limited edition seasonal teas, brand new gift sets or our hugely popular teapigs advent calendar there is a gift for tea slurpers everywhere! If previous years are anything to go by, these won’t hang around for long! 2. Fancy something a bit more bespoke? If, like the teapigs office, everyone has a different favourite blend, then why not create bespoke gifts that will make your team feel extra special? We have a huge selection of pick ‘n’ mix boxes, tea bundles, storage tins and tea ware items, meaning there is sure to be something to suit every tea loving team member.

experts Andy and Leonie via Zoom, tea school is a fantastic and fun way to get your colleagues together to learn all things tea and slurp along with a tasting kit included in the ticket price. When booking your private class, you can choose the time, date and teas you would like to learn about. Fancy making it boozy? We can include some recipes for tea cocktails that you can make at home too. Perfect for keeping workmates connected. Plus, half of the money made from ticket sales will go to teapigs’ ethical scheme, so you’ll be helping make a big difference to the communities where we source our teas! Find out more at www.teapigs.co.uk

3. Planning a Christmas party? Try teapigs tea school! Looking for an office get together but fed up of virtual quizzes? Hosted by tea


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Every virtual event technology platform is different - explore your options to find the one best suited to your event and its objectives.

How to organise a virtual event Considering hosting a virtual event, but not sure where to start? Nicky Brown, Director at Arctic Fox Events, shares her top tips… The world of virtual events can seem daunting, but there are so many great possibilities at your fingertips. Here are Arctic Fox’s 10 top tips on how to organise a virtual event: 1. Ask yourself why you are hosting the event Who is it for and what do you want to achieve from hosting it? By setting clear objectives this will help you to determine the format, length and layout of the event itself. 2. Look at how you can get your attendees to interact Whether it is pre, post or during the event, do you use Q&As, polls, social media, or a post-event virtual photo booth? Look at how you can create a virtual community around the event that will encourage interaction. 3. What can be done in advance? Can you pre-record sessions or supplier content? If in doubt do it before. This is

crucial for rehearsals too. Plan in the prep time to rehearse and make sure you have contingency plans in place in case of technical issues. 4. Do your research! Every virtual event technology platform is different, so you need to explore your options to find the one best suited to your event and its objectives. 5. Give the event personality Focus on the user experience and don’t lose the event’s personality just because it’s virtual. Add to the experience to keep the human element. 6. Think about add-ons to enhance the event experience Whether that’s food delivery, goodie bags for attendees or post-event entertainment. 7. Collaborate Discuss plans with others who have recently hosted or are hosting in the industry, or discuss your ideas with

production and AV experts. How can they help turn your vision to reality? 8. Keep your content diverse to drive audience engagement Maximise on the virtual element of your event and book that speaker that you couldn’t usually because they are in a different time zone, and then pre-record their session. 9. Zone in on your timing What is the right time to host this event and the optimal duration? Plan for comfort and refreshment breaks as well as energiser sessions, just as you would at a live event and make these appropriate to the type of event. 10. Learn from those who are organising virtual events daily Explore how they can support you and your virtual event plans. Nicky Brown is Director Arctic Fox Events and can be contacted at info@ arcticfoxevents.co.uk


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Working from home can mean many employees work longer hours, as leaving the office is no longer the cut-off point for work.

How to improve employee WFH wellbeing this winter There are plenty of ways employers can keep staff spirits high during these difficult times, writes Nic Redfern, Finance Director and Business Spokesperson at Know Your Money… COVID-19 means the majority of the UK has been forced into a new lifestyle, where working from home is the new norm. With the prospect of working remotely likely to continue through the winter months, some employees may find themselves suffering with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects around two million people in the UK. Below, Know Your Money has listed a few tips for employers on how they can keep spirits high during these difficult times: 1. Encouraging employees to take breaks outside: Although the exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, many believe that it is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. Motivate employees to work near a window or to keep their blinds or curtains open, when possible, to make their workspace feel open and bright. Urge staff to use their lunches or breaks to go outside and get some fresh

air and daylight, as walking can help raise energy levels and reduce stress. 2. Promoting healthy work-life balance: Working from home can mean that many employees work longer hours, as leaving the office is no longer the cut-off point for work. Encourage employees to work their contracted hours; this could be as simple as suggesting to them to put their work equipment out of sight when it’s ‘home time’. Additional steps could include banning online meetings during lunch to encourage employees to have a proper break, or even suggesting that employees clarify their schedules via their auto signature. 3. Create safe spaces for employees to address their stress and mental health: While employees work remotely, it can be even harder to notice the signs that someone is struggling. Mental health is a sensitive subject and it can be hard to start a conversation around it, but it’s

important to normalise the topic so that staff feel empowered to share their feelings and seek support if necessary. 4. Keeping in regular contact with staff: Go beyond a simple check-in and work-related subjects. Ask more specifically about how they are doing and what kind of support would be helpful. Use technology to maintain informal chats whilst at work or by setting up virtual events. 5. Offering flexible working policies: Everyone’s home situation is different. Some may have to care for others, whilst others may not have a fixed workspace. Employers should be understanding and look to update current rules around flexible hours. With the winter months looming and returning to the normal office routine unlikely until the new year for many, it is crucial employers offer additional support, as well as encourage social interactions to ensure mental wellbeing is made a key priority.


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Claudine Martin Ministry of Defence

Karen Crowley Baily Garner

Lisa Neath Sulzer

PAs during the pandemic How is the pandemic and lockdown affecting PAs, their professional situation and personal lives? Lisa Carter spoke to Karen Crowley, PA at Baily Garner, Claudine Martin, PA at the Ministry of Defence and Lisa Neath, Executive PA at Sulzer… Are you still working from home? Karen Crowley: I have been working from home for the majority of the time. I have found it extremely beneficial working from home, with my work/life balance being much better. I have actually lost 1 ½ stone as I have been able to cook proper meals and have found I do not snack so much or crave the sweet treats that were always lying around the office. This week, however, I decided to go back into the office for a couple of days a week. I am not a winter person and felt that if I worked from home, with the dark mornings and the rain, I wouldn’t leave

Lisa Neath: I did work from home for a very short time at the beginning of the pandemic crisis, but returned to my office to support the Head of the business. We are an international corporate B2B company supplying the NHS and other key infrastructure industries to keep the country running smoothly during the crisis. The benefits of working from home is that you lose the daily commuting time, but I found, personally, that I prefer to work from the office for the majority of the week. There was little separation from work to family life and, if you have children, you need to take interruptions

I don’t think I will ever go back into the office full-time. Going in a couple of days a week seems to work for me and I get the best of both worlds – Karen Crowley, Baily Garner

the house. So, knowing I am going into the office makes me get out of the house, which from a mental health point of view, will benefit me in the long run. Claudine Martin: I work three days in the office and two days at home, depending on my boss’s whereabouts. This works well for me because, even though I like to be at home, I enjoy getting into the office and seeing my work colleagues.

into consideration which then affects your time management. Has your working day changed? KC: I tend to work slightly longer hours, but I choose those hours. When we were in the office we had a fixed lunch and core hours when we had to be in the office, whereas working from home I can make personal appointments such as dentist, opticians, etc, and work

around what is suitable for me. To keep my routine, I have kept my ‘getting up’ and ‘getting ready’ times the same. CM: I find that I work longer due to not having much face-to-face contact. I find the passing of information slower. LN: Yes I have worked longer hours including working as project workstream lead, managing and finalising a major £12m business site move that we have been working on prior to the lockdown. What have been the biggest challenges? KC: I think the biggest challenge has been a lack of social engagement. Although Teams, Zoom, etc, have kept you in contact with your work colleagues, it is not the same as face-toface contact. You can’t gauge someone’s mood via video calls. CM: The passing of information is slower. The output is still the same, but it takes a bit longer to achieve. LN: I found the separation from work to family life the most challenging. And wi-fi disconnection in the middle of important conference calls. If you’re not back in the office full-time, when do you think you will be? KC: To be honest, I don’t think I will ever go back into the office full-time. It seems to work coming in a couple of days a week and I get the best of both worlds – and I’m still able to do my job.


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All Wrapped Up This year - more than any other – staff, team members and clients deserve to be rewarded for their resilience, efforts, support and loyalty. PA Life provides a round-up of some thoughtful and innovative options…

>>> LAITHWAITES Laithwaites Wines believes it’s impossible to overestimate the power of a well-chosen gift. After all, there is no greater pleasure

than to give a gift that puts a big, beaming smile on someone’s face. This Christmas, with 2020 having been unlike any other, the gifts we give need to surprise and delight even more than usual, and Laithwaites Wine’s Gifts service is the perfect way to do that. When you need to convey a message with the perfect present, be it to

a colleague, client or partner, the company’s impressive range offers something for everyone. The carefully curated selection of gifts caters for all tastes and preferences, from fine wines and spirits, beautifully presented gift sets and delicious fizz to luxury hampers and much more besides. Each gift can be sent with a personal message of your choice. Laithwaite’s has a superb team of Gift Advisors

dedicated to looking after all your business needs, from start to finish. From supplying quotes and invoices to organising deliveries for multiple addresses, the Gift Advisors are there for any and every requirement you might have. With discounts available for large orders and a fantastic selection of gifts, there really is no better way to send the season’s greetings this year. www.laithwaites.co.uk


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>>> INSPIRE ME TRAVEL 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and has deprived us of our desire and need to travel, be it for a weekend of escapism or a two-week relaxing holiday. So, with Christmas around the corner, Inspire Me Travel has set up a new Inspirational Gift Service where you can surprise your loved ones, friends, colleagues or staff with an overseas Experience, such as wine tasting in Provence, driving a Ferrari in Monte Carlo or touring around Rome on a Vespa. All gifts are valid for 18 months from date of purchase, so if you bought one in December 2020 you would have until June 2022 to enjoy the Experience. With overseas travel still quite uncertain, the Inspirational Gift Service will give you something to look forward to. The Gifts range from below £100 for two people and then

up to just under £1,000 for two people. But The Inspire Me Travel Company can

tailor-make any of the Experiences to give as a gift and these are also guaranteed

for 18 months. www.theinspiremetravel company.com

>>> SOCIAL SUPERMARKET The prospect of a Covid Christmas has left many feeling deflated. The lack of festive parties may be a disappointment for many. But for those who have endured the office Christmas party for years, a chance to skip the small talk and stale mince pies might be a consolation. Tell us we’re wrong... At Social Supermarket, its social enterprise Christmas hampers have been popular since the company launched in 2019. They’re bursting full of tempting nut cocktails, clementineflavoured chocolates, locally brewed beers and Christmas coffee blends. Plus, they’re the gift that

gives back. The stories behind each product are sure to be a talking point. Not to mention the starting point for your virtual Christmas party. Here’s why a social enterprise hamper is more fun than your traditional Christmas party… 1. You can come together with a virtual experience Let Toast Ale bring your hamper to life. When you purchase hampers comprising over 50 bottles, they’ll deliver a virtual beer tasting for your team. 2. Great Taste Awardwinning food and drink hampers We taste-test and research so you don’t have to. Plus, you don’t need to

just take our word for it. Many of our products have achieved the Great Taste stamp of approval. 3. Organising a Christmas party has never been so easy In just one phone call, you can relax knowing that the details of your Christmas celebrations are fully taken care of. 4. Shopping small supports the local economy When you buy a Social Supermarket Christmas hamper, you’re not just supporting an independent UK-based business, but supporting a whole ecosystem of small scale businesses and suppliers.

5. Create your own positive ripple effect If you want to ensure that your Christmas spend is aligned with your company values, there’s no better way than by shopping with social enterprises. Just think – your Christmas party could change the world. www. socialsupermarket. org


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>>> BOSS BIRD Boss Bird desk and journal planners are ideal for anyone who now ďŹ nds themselves working from home, helping them to achieve a healthy work-life balance, combining multiple task check lists with useful wellbeing tick boxes. With the inevitable distractions at home, it’s good to have a place to note down reminders and personal to-do-lists that help to ease the stress in our Covidimpacted working days. The new journals with their smart covers are great for keeping your essential notes with you, wherever you are working; perfect for those dividing their time between home and their usual office workspace. www.bossbird.co.uk

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>>> FESTIVE CORPORATE SERVICES FROM MOLTON BROWN Inspired by our 1920s Art Deco campaign, delight loved ones with festive gift boxes that radiate lightcatching elegance. Reflecting the sparkle of a ballroom chandelier, these boxes are debossed with contemporary holographic foil; opening their gifts will be just as exciting as receiving them.

Let us captivate your valued client, colleagues and contacts with exquisite festive gifts from our Corporate selection. Recognise your team during this season with our reward scheme. Give fragranced indulgences to enrich their winter bathing rituals or to add Christmas ambience at home –

luxurious moments that continue to motivate and reward. During these uncertain times, our reassuring gestures of care and cleansing are more important than ever. Gift your team our Hand Care collection leaving hands deeply cleaned, protected and nourished, or show your

‘Working from Home’ colleagues your appreciation with a well-deserved bespoke care kit. Contact the Corporate Sales team to help you choose your tailored company package. Phone: +44 (0) 203 540 1250 Email: corporate@ moltonbrown.com


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Virtually Together

With teams working from home, or alternating shifts in the office, it has never been more important to find ways to connect. Physical team-building events and parties may be off the cards for the time being, but a whole host of virtual experiences have sprung up to fill the gap. Over the next few pages, we provide a round-up of some of the opportunities available…

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>>> SOMERSET HOUSE With Zoom and Teams calls having lost their appeal and the desire to meet with colleagues for face-to-face conversations increasing, London’s working arts centre Somerset House is bringing a sense of community back to the world by launching an antidote to the lack of human business interaction. Deputy head of commercial events Kara Clark says: “With so many offices still closed, people are keenly missing the benefits of being part of a physical team and are looking for new ways to safely regroup, which is still possible for business purposes. As humans we thrive on social interaction and stimulation. We convene

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to inspire one another and create solutions to today’s problems. Somerset House artists, designers and creators are still safely collaborating in person to bring their ideas to life and businesses can now be a part of our hub too.”

The Portico Rooms can host up to 25 people for a business meeting. To increase event reach, specialist supplier Broadsword has devised several hybrid options including conferencing and streaming, with packages

starting from £1,445 + VAT. Somerset House’s historic courtyard and its series of exhibitions offers an original cultural interlude for all attendees. New café The Watchhouse can also be explored during downtime. www.somersethouse.org.uk

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>>> COOKING ACADEMY The Cooking Academy’s virtual Team Building Cookery and Wellness events provide individuals who work remotely the ability to maintain social interaction with team members, other departments or even clients – in a variety of locations simultaneously. The aim is to recreate interactive group activities, where you can share quality fun time together, re-kindle relationships while learning a valuable ‘life-skill’ and creating something very nice to eat - all from the comfort of your own Kitchen. Virtual cookery classes are a unique activity, united by a need to eat. Cooking with a chef coaching you is almost a one to one experience. – giving a much broader appeal, and the best bit is that only you can judge the results, good, bad or indifferent. In ‘Ready Steady Cook – 1’ The Cooking Academy will send out a recipe pack, utensils list and shopping list and then guide you step by step through the recipes to create your own mini feast.

They can provide a variety of menus with breakfast, healthy lunch options, quick suppers, snacks for healthy living etc, as well as pancake making, sushi making, to name but a few. In ‘Ready Steady Cook – 2’ they’ve got it covered. The team will make this event as convenient, seamless, and easy as possible. Not only do they supply you with instructions, recipe packs

and a utensils list but they also provide all the ingredients required, delivered to each delegate, to keep it simple, thereby avoiding any distractions from the working day. Then their expert chefs and Food Scientists will guide you, step-by-step through each recipe to make each participant feel like a MasterChef of the day. If you don’t feel like

cooking but want to learn about the science of food, then ‘The Alchemy of Food’ presentation is for you. Their resident food scientist will take you through an inspirational no-jargon presentation with the facts and theory behind the food we eat, the choices we make and the factors that have influenced our eating habits of today. thecookingacademy.co.uk

and entertained, whatever your plans or budgets. Virtual awards events are a speciality, with Arctic Fox providing a dedicated AV and production team, and assistance with prerecording speeches, hosts, branding and more. Elsewhere, the Dine Delivered virtual dinner package gives you a chance to host a

virtual dinner with chef standard food for each of your attendees delivered to their door. It means that three-course meals are prepared by award-winning chefs and delivered to the guests’ doors by DPD anywhere in the UK. Guests simply need to heat, garnish, serve and enjoy! Arctic Fox also has a huge range of virtual teambuilding activities available, including online cooking

experiences with The Tiny Italian, virtual cocktail making classes, virtual magic from The Head of Magic- Sav aka The Deceptionist, virtual Day at the Races, virtual Great British Pub Quiz, virtual Escape Rooms, Who’s Who Networking Game, plus Gifts, Hampers and Graze Boxes. Find out more about the opportunities by visiting arcticfoxevents.co.uk.

>>> ARCTIC FOX Events and venue finding specialist Arctic Fox has a range of virtual solutions to keep your teams connected


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>>>SANDSTONE One company has been in the virtual team building space for over 12 years. Formed in 1992, the familyowned and run Sandstone has always used technology within its in-person events. They branched out into cyberspace back in 2008. Branded ‘Global Team Building’, their online activities are different, engaging and very popular with remote teams – especially now, with so many people working from home. Nikki Lyon, Client Services Director, explains: “For us, team building is about leaving the team better at the end of an activity than it was at the start. An activity needs to be different enough to what people do day-to-day, and that they find it interesting and fun. If they can’t enjoy it, they won’t participate fully – or at all. “It also needs to require the same approaches that teams

need to be effective in their working lives. Otherwise, there’s no relevance to it that can help the team get better at what it does, and how it does it.” She continues: “For remote teams, their single largest defining characteristics are that their members are not all together, and that they use technology to communicate.

Our activities replicate that environment in a fun way.” As the name ‘Global Team Building’ implies, their original clients are in virtual teams that are globally-spread, across borders. But in our new reality, they have added many new clients with people working from home. Lyon again: “Our single most popular activity right

feature a streaming element to allow those who cannot attend to take part remotely, either live or at later time. But with social distancing now required as a result of Covid-19, this has increased the need for virtual events so that all participants can be involved remotely. Working at home, staff can feel disconnected from work colleagues and may struggle with feelings of isolation. Many employers are now turning to companies like Bright Vision to help promote wellbeing and keep their staff engaged by providing virtual team building events. This gives them the team contact they may be missing and helps to recreate the ‘office buzz’

whilst restrictions to group gatherings are in place. Also, since homes have become the new workplace, there is a need, now more than ever, for teams to use the skills found within team building activities such as communication, collaboration and even camaraderie. Bright Vision ensures that its events will deliver this and more. Which is why, in the spirit of team building challenges, the company set itself a big one. How to move its most popular activities from muddy fields and conference centres directly into your homes and offices? After months of development, the

now is one we call MiniScavenge. It’s part scavenger hunt, part treasure hunt and has team puzzles within it that give an escape room feel at times. It all happens on a single web page that team members join in together. And the feedback we’ve received from our new clients has been amazing.” www.sandstone.co.uk

>>> BRIGHT VISION Corporate team building events and activities are one of Bright Vision’s largest specialities. Typically, it hosts over 200 physical team building events per year, both indoor and out, for clients of all sizes right across the UK and beyond. However, when the pandemic took hold, and the country went into lockdown these events rapidly ground to a halt. Rather than sit around and wait for things to return to normal, the company began to adapt and change to be ready for the new normal. The virtual revolution has been slowly building in the events industry for some time now. Many of Bright Vision’s events already

company is delighted to say that its most popular team building activities are now available in virtual formats. Participants can join in from the comfort of their own home – all that’s needed is an internet connection and a laptop, tablet, or smart phone, and Bright Vision will do the rest. Pic: MD Ben Hull www.brightvisionevents. co.uk


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>>> MAKE HAPPY Lego Serious Play (LSP) is a compelling and engaging process, and perfect for fostering innovation, collaboration and helping teams generate new ideas or address a particular problem. In terms of how it works, the sessions run with the facilitator asking a question, and participants ‘building’ their responses in Lego. The building process ensures that participants think more deeply about their answer instead of calling out the first thing that comes to mind. The participants then share the stories behind their models in turn (in groups of six to eight). The great thing about the LSP method is that everyone participates equally, so there is no option to stand back and let others do the talking. As such, it helps teams bond and get to know each other better. In response to the pandemic, Make Happy moved its LSP workshops online. The issue was how to get everyone with the same Lego. So now the company posts a special pack of Lego to participants in the week before the workshop (and

Smarties, Post-it notes and a Sharpie pen - anything to build anticipation and excitement). A typical workshop starts with skills building. The purpose is to demonstrate that everyone can build. Everyone is asked to build a tower and place the Lego person somewhere on the tower. There have never been two identical towers.

The second exercise is to build a model to describe something about you that none of your colleagues would be aware of. This exercise helps the group see each other in a new light and helps stimulate conversations around diversity. In the third exercise, people build their most significant challenge at work. When this is debriefed, the group is asked to look for

common themes. From here, the activities are based on the clients’ objectives. In the last couple of months, Make Happy has addressed customer service; selfdevelopment; and critical behaviours of a highperforming team. The biggest LSP workshop run over lockdown had 220 participants on it across eight time zones! www.makehappy.co.uk

>>> CHEFPASSPORT ChefPassport is revolutionising online culinary education through its network of dedicated digital chefs. It brings the world of flavour to food enthusiasts every day during live online cooking classes, where real-time interaction with local experts provide both culinary and cultural learning. ChefPassport organises virtual one-to-one classes, parties, and public events for private clients and

businesses. Since launching its Top Chef Instructor programme in 2020, the company has been connecting colleagues and remote teams during virtual team building activities. Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Luxembourg, ChefPassport boasts some 40 chefs, 20 international cuisines, and over 120 dishes in its offering. Find out more by visiting www.chefpassport.com


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Christmas is NOT cancelled It’s certainly going to be a different kind of festive season this year, with most ‘live’ Christmas parties cancelled and teams working from home. But there’s no reason not to celebrate. On previous pages, we’ve looked at gifts and team-building opportunities. Here we investigate some ideas to really get you into the Christmas spirit…

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>>> 1331 EVENTS 1331 Events is a boutique event management agency with 40+ years combined global event planning expertise, and a sterling reputation for being the industry’s best. The company helps its clients create unforgettable experiences that excite, motivate and inspire people. 1331 Events is not a big agency, but it claims that for its clients, its small size is a big advantage. Small means caring, passionate, costefficient, flexible and service oriented. It means being nimble enough to act quickly to make a big impact. It means hands-on input from highly experienced event professionals who’ve been there and done it. And expertise from people whose personal credibility rides on the success of every event. With an established network of industry partners,

1331 Events can provide a full end-to-end management service including; event strategy and creative, venue or virtual platform sourcing, delegate marketing, recruitment and management, catering, audio visual and production services, speakers, entertainment, and event technology.

Whilst Covid-19 has put a firm stop to all but the smallest in-person events for now, 1331 Events is busy trying to ensure any virtual event it creates comes as close to a real-life experience as possible. Ho Ho Home is 1331 Events’ fantastic and fun Christmas party package

designed to bring teams together and re-create the traditional office party experience, all taking place in the comfort and safety of the home. If you want a wow-factor event combined with that all-important attention to detail, contact 1331 Events. www.1331events.com

>>> AT LAST EVENTS Ongar-based At Last Events is seeing a trend for early residential Christmas decoration install dates this year - its clients can’t wait to bring the warmth and optimism of Christmas into their homes and offices. Sharon Creates-Webb, MD and owner of the company, has built up her career designing and installing both large scale West-End displays and luxury residential projects, as well as collaborating with major retail brands on their product display. “After speaking with our clients, the feedback that we’re hearing is that people are desperate for the warmth and twinkle of

Christmas, since we’ve all had such a hard time and it looks like we may not be able to enjoy the usual things,” she said. “More people are working and learning from home, and generally going out much less – I think a lot of people just need something to cheer them up, and give them a bit of hope.” With the increased demand for residential decorations, At Last Events has been able to employ several new members of staff and provide training, increase their fleet of ‘sleighs’ and are fully COVID compliant throughout their operations process. www.atlastevents.co.uk


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Covid-secure events at Ascot Racecourse A new set of rules, but the same magical Ascot. How the UK’s most prestigious racecourse is providing Covid-safe events and fine dining for meetings, away days and more...

As a venue, Ascot is as versatile as it is inspirational. We are proud to provide a safe environment for any event, guaranteeing an abundance of flexible space in which to host a vast array of business and social occasions, while abiding by social distancing regulations. Whether you’re looking for meetings, training and away days, or simply an opportunity to gather again sociably to reconnect, we are confident that all guests visiting Ascot will feel safe and comfortable: 5 independent, selfcontained zones • Separate entrances and exits • Up-tothe-minute social distancing measures • Enhanced cleaning and PPE • 6,000 free

car parking spaces • 30 adaptable event spaces • Large private boxes • Extensive grounds with ample open-air space to enjoy • Live streaming technology • High class catering. Ascot is not only committed to upholding all relevant governmental standards, but also holds the safety and security of all our guests in highest esteem. As such, all event spaces have been re-evaluated to calculate safe capacities. As well as on-site events Ascot Racecourse can host a range of virtual or hybrid blend events. Ascot is delighted to announce the build of the new ‘Live Stage’, the green screen studio has

been created with the on-site AV partner ITM. In partnership with 1711 by Ascot, the specialist team which delivers Royal Ascot’s catering and Fine Dining experiences, we present a delicious range of menus. Each comprises breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, grab & go treats and Cream Tea, all designed to ensure that your guests and your event remain energised and productive throughout. Ascot Racecourse recently played host to Historics Auction for its major open-topublic autumn classic car sale, with strict COVID-secure measures in place. The extensive grounds provided the elegant backdrop to a fine

and varied consignment of 190 classics spanning nine decades and including classic examples from 47 different brands. The auction itself was a resounding success. Collaborative working between the Historics team and the Events at Ascot team ultimately led to a highly successful event that saw attendance from over 1,800 individuals across a busy and profitable four days. 149 of a total of 186 consignments were sold, with total sales of £4.6 million achieved. Contact a member of the Events team to find out more events@ascot.co.uk | +44(0)344 346 3611 | ascot. co.uk/covid-secure


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JOIN OUR VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY Incorporating the PA Life Awards, in association with First Events December 3rd, 2020 PA Life has teamed up with First Event to host a virtual Christmas party. First Event’s bespoke online event platform offers customers everything they can imagine from a virtual event. Taking place December 3rd, join us and your peers to experience a range of activities throughout the evening including cocktail making and interactive games, with a chance to win prizes along the way. The event will also include PA Life’s annual PA awards which are: • • • • •

Rising Star Virtual Assistant of the Year Multi-Tasker of the Year PA Life Club Member of the Year PA of the Year


Contact Us For more information on sponsoring this event, contact Charlotte Russell – c.russell@forumevents.co.uk To find out more about First Events, visit firstevent.co.uk/inspiration


PA Life Club new offer To support the industry in these current times PA Life is offering membership to the PA Life Club till April 2021 for just £9.99+vat! To find out more about how to take advantage of this special offer, visit www.palife.co.uk/pa-life-club Benefits include: Exclusive monthly Club newsletter with partner offers, competitions, plus up and coming club events

Exclusive £99 online learning packages (worth £225), with over 100 unlimited courses to benefit from

Gain access to exclusive Club special offers from hotels and restaurants, plus wellness and gifts

Access to the PA Life Club members-only LinkedIn group

Access to FREE venue finding service via Arctic Fox

Brand new Virtual Meet-Ups for Club Members only PA Life has teamed up with Event Agency Arctic Fox to bring PA Life Club members a range of new and exciting virtual meet-ups These meet-ups will be hosted regularly, providing an opportunity to get a ‘taster’ (quite literally in some cases!) of teambuilding events and more. Dates for your diary... November 11th - Join us for a lunchtime ‘energiser’ virtual meet-up with Sav aka The Deceptionist (pictured). He will be performing magic, teaching delegates how to do tricks, as well as talking about his art. A great opportunity for you to sample this team-building event.

antipasti, the perfect risotto or a sumptuous tiramisu, Tiny Italian’s Paola believes that food is an experience to be shared and enjoyed. This Club member event will provide a taster of what she offers, inlcuding: • A fun virtual crostini experience hosted by culture chef and host, The Tiny Italian. • How to make 3 Italian crostini toppings, perfect to enjoy with a glass of wine or cocktail • Toppings: Tomato and Celery; Courgette, Lemon and Mint: Mozzarella, Olives and Chilli

Tiny Italian - November TBC Whether it’s creating


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Coming soon: PA Life Virtual Christmas Party incorporating the PA Life Awards Taking place from on December 3rd, PA Life has teamed up with First Event to bring you a cracking virtual Christmas Party...

We may not be able to meet in person, but we’re delighted that to be able to bring the razzamatazz to your homes next month as we host the PA Life Christmas Party in association with First Event. First Event’s bespoke online event platforms offer customers everything they can imagine from a virtual event. Bringing together all of their experience in physical events around the globe, their virtual events focus on flawless delivery and creating the best possible delegate experience. They have delivered countless virtual events over the years, including award ceremonies,

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conferences, exhibitions and office parties, with delegate numbers ranging from 50 to over 10,000. First Event offer a huge range of platforms and virtual services and can take care of every element of an online event, meaning their clients don’t have to worry about anything. Each event is completely bespoke to each customers’ needs, budgets and goals, and is created under the strict adherence to all UK Government regulations. Keep an eye out on the PA Life website and social channels for ticket information, but you can look forward to an

evening of fun, Christmas cheer and awards (see right). Event Itinerary All attendees will be welcomed by the host and the evening will include: • Log on and check out the system • Cocktail making • Competition time • Exhibition area to see partners • Main stage for awards presentation • Team quiz Once the evening has ended, you can keep the party going and share your experience with others on PA Life’s social media channels.

Awards To recognise the hard work and dedication of our readers, the PA Life Awards are back to champion everything they do. This year the Awards are: • Rising Star • Multi-Tasker of the Year • Virtual Assistant of the Year • PA Life Club Member of the Year • PA of the Year All nominees should submit up to 500 words on why they deserve to win and provide three testimonials from their colleagues. Details on how to enter will follow shortly along with the deadline for entries. A panel of judges will decide the winners of the awards with the winner of PA of the Year being decided by you. Keep a look-out for our online voting system. For more information, contact Hayley Somerscales via H.Somerscales@ forumevents.co.uk. For sponsorship, contact Charlotte Russell at C.Russell@forumevents. co.uk.

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“I feel incredibly fortunate to be safe, healthy and employed. I’ve invested a lot of time in the EA How To community, which has grown massively since March”

Work & life Alicia Fairclough is EA to the CEO at Truphone. She is also the Founder of the EA How To community initiative. She talks to Lisa Carter about navigating the pandemic, working from home and pink gin… Tell us how you got to your current postion at Truphone. I got my current role through a fantastic London recruiter, Morgan Spencer. Great recruitment contacts are like gold. What is the best thing about your job? I love that I have a lot of freedom to be creative. I make internal and external video content for the company and I have a lot of freedom to introduce new ideas. And what would you say is the most challenging? The most challenging thing about my

role is finding hours in the day across multiple schedules. That and keeping up with telco acronyms. How has lockdown been for you, personally? I feel incredibly fortunate to be safe, healthy and employed. I’ve invested a lot of time in the EA How To community which has grown massively since March and I’ve taken advantage of the time at home. The hardest thing has been not being able to travel or see my family in Australia. Did you work from home regularly

before lockdown? I always had the flexibility to work from home when I wanted to or needed to. Previously I would work from home once or twice a month. I’m quite happy either way as Truphone has an incredibly beautiful and well equipped office. Would you like to continue with flexible working options going forward? I think flexible working is really important and I would expect this to continue in the future. How do you relax after a busy day? A podcast and a pink gin.

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Sales: charlotte.russell@palife.co.uk & a.mccallum@forumevents.co.uk Design: ThinkCreative Printed by: The Manson Group

An annual subscription to PA Life is £25, contact Laura Spratt on 01992 374053 to secure your copy now

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Profile for PA Life

PA Life Magazine - Autumn  

PA Life Magazine - Autumn