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Christmas in July Festive party options to help you get ahead of the game

Super power Using mindfulness for work-life balance

Caribbean dream Exploring MICE options in the Dominican Republic

CRAIG HARRIS EA to the Fundraising Director, Shelter

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EDITOR’S LETTER /palifemag

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That’s not a joke – at least not in this industry. Whenever I tell my friends that we’re working on our Christmas issue to be published in July, I get the obligatory eye roll and outburst of “Give it a rest!” The truth is that it’s never too early to start thinking about this particular holiday when you’re a PA. Venues have already started marketing their festive packages – some of them even started in January – and spaces are quickly filling up as the year goes on, leaving little time for late-comers to book their first choice. That’s why this issue is all about corporate Christmas parties, from venues and caterers to entertainment and event management companies. Within these pages you’ll find top planning tips, along with a selection of our favourite suppliers to help ensure your soirée is brilliant. Turn to p19 to start your festive journey. If you’re in need of more inspiration, we have plenty of options online at; just search ‘Christmas’ on the homepage and you can find a wealth of content. I’m so pleased to have had the chance to sit down with Craig Harris, the first-ever male winner of Pitman Training’s SuperAchievers PA of the Year award, to discuss how his persistence landed him his dream job. He’s worked incredibly hard to get to where he is today and has become a major voice for men in the profession, so be sure to read his inspiring story on p13. I also had an amazing opportunity to travel across the globe to the Caribbean with a group of PAs to find out about the MICE facilities available through AM Resorts on the island of Dominican Republic. It’s a stunning part of the world and, as I discovered, the perfect place to treat teams to a bit of relaxation amongst business meetings. Join me on this tropical adventure on p38. Elsewhere, we find out how to use mindfulness to unlock our hidden super powers on p34, get the inside scoop on how one company is using Workplace by Facebook to connect colleagues across the globe on p37 and get top tips from a wellness expert on prioritising self-care on p49. We also check in at Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club on p40, then visit the brand-new Ivy City Garden and La Dame de Pic starting on p43. Finally, a HR expert weighs in on the ways in which PAs can get involved in their employers’ recruitment process on p50. So get ready to deck the halls and rock around the Christmas tree – we’ll be there with you. Molly Dyson, Editor

The UK’s award-winning title for personal and executive assistants Forum Events Media Forum House 71 Mead Lane Hertford, Hertfordshire SG13 7AX Website: Twitter: @palifemag E:

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All material in the publication is covered by copyright. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form – electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise – whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher © 2017 Forum Events Media Ltd. While considerable care has been taken in the production of this issue, no responsibility can be accepted for any errors or omissions. No responsibility can be accepted for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, artwork or equipment. All correspondence is assumed to be for publication unless clearly stated otherwise.

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Adam Fidler Adam is an EA Trainer and Consultant who offers teaching and self-development of PAs and EAs. His popular two-day Executive PA course runs regularly in London through Pitman Training and in South Africa through CBM Training. Adam gained his broad, corporate experience as a PA/EA in a variety of bluechip organisations. Twitter: @adamdfidler

Best Parties Ever Best Parties Ever is the country’s leading Christmas party supplier; in 2016 the group entertained 190,000 guests at 22 spectacularly styled venues. Experience the mesmerising and incredible entertainment, spectacular themes, seamless service and let Best Parties Ever indulge, amaze and excite in an unforgettably magical Christmas experience.

Dana Zelicha Dana is a leading academic on the topic of mindful leadership, a graduate of the London School of Economics and a former corporate high-flyer whose first-hand experience with the mounting stress of the modern workforce inspired her to launch The Well Being Agency. Her goal is to help the organisational world become more mindful. Twitter: @WellBeingAgency

Emily Darnell Emily started as PA to the MD at PVL UK five years ago and has since been promoted to EA to the CEO. She is the co-founder of the Sussex PA/EA Support & Development Network. She is a supporter of networking among assistants and is very active in the community. In her spare time, Emily is keen on fitness and spending time with her two children. Twitter: @MidSussexPAs

Seema Kavi Seema is Director of Quivira Capital. After making the decision to join Quivira in 2014, she discovered an entrepreneurial spirit within herself. Working with her husband Rajiv, who founded Quivira, Seema has grown the company, with profit increasing fivefold every year for the last three years and has been responsible for hiring for their fast-growing team. Twitter: @Quiviracapital

Stuart Logan Stuart is Chief HR Officer at SoftServe, a global provider of digital services and software development. With more than 15 years’ experience, he is accountable for accelerating SoftServe’s investments into globalisation and growth strategy by implementing world-class HR systems. Prior to SoftServe, Stuart served as VP Human Resources for Tata Communications. Twitter: @SoftServeInc

Tara Jackson Tara moved to London from Kenya and found herself slipping into the habit of eating lots of carbs and drinking to excess following a lifetime of fresh food. After being a PA for 10 years, she decided to take back control and trained as a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Today she helps busy office workers focus on self-care. Twitter: @tara_jackson


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19 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas It's time to start thinking of your company's festive party, so we've got our pick of the best venue and supplier options around the UK and abroad.



PA Profile Craig Harris, EA at Shelter and Pitman SuperAchievers PA of the Year tells us how his determination helps him succeed.

Island life We travel half-way across the world to discover the MICE options in the Dominican Republic.



Muscle Dreams We saw Michael McGrath's hard work with the Muscle Help Foundation in action at a Muscle Dreams event at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone.

Time to prioritise you Former PA and Wellness Expert Tara Jackson explains why it's important to take a break every now and then to focus on your health and wellbeing.

34 Find your inner Wonder Woman Tips for using mindfulness to unleash your work-life balance super power.


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Face the Facts Latest insight into the issues facing office workers across the UK

Top 10 employee benefits revealed

Flexible hours key to a healthier workforce

The top perks coveted by workers, including private healthcare and funding for training, have been revealed in a new report. Released by totaljobs, Understanding Talent has detailed the top 10 perks that would make or break job opportunities for prospective employees. As employees begin to look for different things in a job, the report aims to educate recruiters and make sure employers are aware of the changing times. Top 10 benefits: 1. Annual bonus 2. Pension 3. Flexible working/working from home 4. Learning and development programme 5. Private healthcare 6. Money for training 7. More than statutory holiday leave 8. Car allowance 9. Accommodation 10. Unlimited holiday allowance

Too much time in the office is putting Brits off the gym, even though more than one in four would like to exercise at least three times a week. According to a new study by the Smarter Working Initiative, two thirds of office workers believe they’d be more active and have a healthier lifestyle if they were able to work from home or have more control over their office hours. Nearly half thought that working from home, a shorter commute, or less distance between work and a gym would encourage a healthier lifestyle, while one in three admitted that due to office snacking, they failed their summer diets. 76 per cent confessed that they snack more than they’d like to at work, while 25 per cent are eating out instead of preparing a healthier packed lunch. With more and more bosses addressing the need for workers to factor in their personal lives for greater productivity, especially as the younger generation is poised to change the working world, the Smarter Working Initiative is keen to urge employers to do more in order to boost office efficiency and productivity.

PA Life Club members experience new venues Owning a pet could make you a better worker Pet owners are a positive influence on their colleagues and neighbours, according to a new study. Reports by the University of Western Australia and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition have revealed that pet owners frequently have stronger ties to the local area than those without pets, regularly having a more cheerful outlook and can help with confidence and sociability. Although pets in general were found to increase community involvement, dog walkers saw the biggest improvement as people were encouraged to go outside and socialise with other dog walkers. Naturally friendly with other dogs and people alike, owning a dog means you are likely to become more comfortable with talking to new people, boosting self-esteem in both social and business situations. It can, however, have the adverse effect, with a third of Brits choosing to skip work to look after their pets.

Members of the PA Life Club came together to celebrate the launch of the brand-new Ivy City Garden. Located in Old Broad Street, the restaurant features a hidden garden, offering a tranquil escape from the capital. We gathered in the venue’s private dining room to sample the Ivy Collection’s own branded champagne and a selection of delicious canapés. Next up we headed south of the Thames to check out the top-notch event facilities at the Kia Oval, one of London’s most iconic sporting venues. We sipped on Pimms cocktails and tried the canapés on offer while touring the home of Surrey County Cricket Club. Not a PA Life Club member? Join today for just £79 including VAT; visit for more information.


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04 Contributors PA Life JulyAugust_v1.indd 1

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Straight to the point Executive assistant trainer and educator Adam Fidler offers sound advice and no-nonsense views on topics of interest. This issue he explains how to ask for training Are you baffled by the business case? Are you wondering how to approach your boss with a request for training? I have to admit, I don’t quite get all this ‘preparing a business case’ stuff. A solid and well-thought-out conversation should be your starting point. Firstly, step back from your role and consider what your strengths and weaknesses are. What’s going well? What do you feel you need some training or development on? Secondly, ask your boss for some feedback about what you’re not doing so well at. Are there any areas where the boss feels you could do better? Now, that’s a tough question – but by asking it, you open the way to showing your boss you have learning agility. In other words, you’re receptive to

improving your personal effectiveness at work and want to improve. Thirdly, suggest to your boss that based on his/her feedback and your own self-reflection, you would like to attend a training course or undertake a qualification, and you’ve been looking at what is

programme you want to attend – return to the organisation and then the return on you. You mention, for instance, that if your boss wants to retain you longer-term, then you also need some development. Or that one of your shortcomings is you aren’t always as

“A SOLID AND WELL-THOUGHT-OUT CONVERSATION SHOULD BE YOUR STARTING POINT.” available. Don’t present your boss with any more information than this in that meeting; just plant the seed that you are looking into it – and gauge their response. Say you’ll arrange for the two of you to have a longer discussion about it at a later date. Let your boss ponder on what you’ve said; you warm them up for a more in-depth proposal later on. Finally, at a later date, you speak to your boss and say you want to have a follow-up on the conversation about undertaking a training programme. Explain to your boss the benefits of the

confident in the role as you want to be. But the key is stating why you want to do it and what benefit it will bring. Now, here’s the trick – when you have that conversation, your boss is using it as a judgement on how you influence, persuade and manage upwards. Little wonder then some PAs get turned down flat! Because if you are asking to step up, you need to demonstrate you can have an assertive and managerial conversation based on thinking it through first. That’s how managers make proposals. Why should the EA be any different?

Read all about it This month’s motivational must-read book COMMUNITY CLUB

The Organized Mind Author: Daniel Devlin

Paperback available to buy on Amazon, £4.99; Kindle edition, £6.49 It’s been a long while since I’ve written a book review myself, but on the recommendation of my husband I felt it important to bring this one to your attention. Neuroscientist Levitin uses the book to explore the phenomenon of information overload brought on by modern technology. We’re always connected, making it hard to switch off and keep up with the demands placed on us (often by ourselves). He examines the repercussions of this ‘always-on’ culture while giving sound advice on taking back control. Each chapter focuses on a different area of life, from mind clutter to messy desks. My husband is an especially big fan of the idea of jotting down notes and to-do lists on index cards rather than using a notebook or piece

of paper so he can reorder his tasks based on priority; by writing things down immediately and throwing the cards away after, the thought doesn’t stay in his head too long taking up valuable thinking power. My particular favourite is going through all of your possessions to get rid of excess and reorganising everything into categories. A few months on and Levitin’s advice is still keeping us delightfully de-cluttered. Levitin manages to keep the entire book in a conversational and often jokey tone while recommending simple but effective ways to take back control of your life. If you’re a bit of a scatter-brain like me, this is definitely the book for you. Reviewed by Molly Dyson, Editor, PA Life


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Work + Life This month Emily Darnell, Co-Founder of the Sussex PA/EA Support & Development Network unlocks her diary from AM to PM My alarm goes off… At 6.30am I wake up, get myself a drink and sit down to read my emails. My boss is currently in Abu Dhabi, which is three hours ahead of UK time, setting up our Middle East branch. I always have a few emails from him by the time I wake up and I like to read through them before I go into the office so that I know what to work on first and what my day is going to be like. I’m responsible for… I am Executive Assistant to Nick Broom, who is the CEO of The Preview Visual Communication Group, encompassing three companies – PVL UK Ltd, Preview and Art D’Signs. I have had this role for five years and really enjoy it. As an EA my role is varied and covers lots of things. I also look after training and resources for the group so I don’t have much time to sit still! The business has grown so much since I started and I have enjoyed being part of their success, especially the opening of the Middle East branch, which I was able to go and visit last year. I got my job… I was looking for a job closer to home and my mum saw the ad in the local paper and cut it out for me. I was very

interested in this role because Nick had never had an assistant before so I really liked the idea of being able to make it my own. I was lucky enough to be offered the role and haven’t looked back since. In my spare time… I run the Sussex PA/EA Support & Development Network with my friend and fellow EA Esther Dawson. We set this group up in July 2015 and put on approximately four events a year. We are very lucky and grateful to our CEOs, who have supported us with this group, and also the hospitality of all of the lovely hotels we have here in Sussex. The group is really gaining momentum now and we really enjoy picking the learning topics for each event. I have learned so much since setting up the group and this has really helped me in my role as an EA. In what little spare time I have left, I like to keep fit and go to the gym. My proudest moment… On a personal basis, it has been watching my kids Meg, 20, and Will, 18, grow up into the wonderful adults that they are. As a single mum I am very close to them and incredibly proud. On a professional basis,

it was getting promoted from PA to the MD to EA to the CEO. My favourite techie kit/app… Is Google. It literally has the answer to everything. I do wonder how I ever managed to do anything before Google! My work mantra… Be professional and treat everyone how you would like to be treated. Alternative career… Weather girl. My bucket list… Is very long! Networking is… Not something that came naturally to me, which was the reason I came up with the idea of the Sussex PA/EA Support & Development Network. My boss had set me an objective a few years ago to go out and network more, as I was never very comfortable doing it. I wanted to network with other PAs and could not find a local PA group, which I was really surprised at. I asked Esther if she wanted to help set up a group with me and now I love networking!


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pa profile

CRAIG HARRIS EA at Shelter and Pitman SuperAchievers PA of the Year 13

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for it and managed to find an employer willing to take a chance on me.” That first assistant role was a career-defining moment for Craig. “My bosses were great because they let me work things out on my own. It was one of the best things they could’ve done for me; it taught me to think on my feet and allowed me to find out the best way of working for me. It set me up for future jobs.” After two years, Craig decided to pursue another life goal – to work in the charity sector. “I knew in the back of my mind that eventually I wanted to give back by working at a not-forprofit. NSPCC is a charity that has always been very close to my heart, so when I saw a job listing come up I knew I had to go for it. At first, I was told I didn’t have the right experience, but again I pushed for it and eventually got the job.” He laughs and continues: “I think it was probably due to the recruitment agent getting annoyed by me constantly asking to be put forward; I didn’t leave her alone until I got what I wanted! She was great because she kept suggesting other roles that suited my experience and education level, but I was very blunt and told her I would be bored in those jobs because I knew I could do more than that. “I’m so grateful for the director who took me on; without her taking that chance I wouldn’t be where I am now. I owe her a lot. She made me realise the importance of self-development. Obviously traditional training opportunities are limited in the charity sector due to budget constraints, so you have to be quite savvy and find other ways of learning. She encouraged me to start networking. At first, I didn’t see the point until I went to my first event; I realised I was standing in a room full of people with experience and skills I didn’t have who were willing to share their knowledge with me. That director definitely set me up to be the PA I am today.” Does he encourage his fellow PAs to network? “Absolutely. Networking is an unbelievable resource. Other PAs understand the stress you’re under and the funny quirks that come with the job. You get the social side where you laugh about things that probably only happen to assistants, but you also get an incredible source of knowledge. For instance, I asked an online group if anyone had ever done a ‘clean office’ programme to get organised and within an hour I had so many responses with advice. PAs are so collaborative. Let’s face it – the profession is changing. We’re becoming more like strategic business partners, so we’ve got the opportunity to learn a lot more, and the best way to do that is to talk to somebody who’s already doing it.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………….….….….…...... Male assistants are few and far between, so when I come across a man in the community I’m instantly intrigued to get his thoughts on the profession. Add to the mix the fact that Craig Harris, EA to the Fundraising Director at housing and homelessness charity Shelter, was recently crowned the first male winner of Pitman’s SuperAchievers PA of the Year category and I know he’s perfect for our next profile. When I meet Craig at Jones Family Project in Shoreditch, he tells me he’s in the middle of organising a house move while getting ready for a holiday with his partner. In true PA fashion, he seems completely unfazed by the pressure. “Assistants deal with stress all the time; it really helps when things are busy in my personal life,” he says. Before becoming a PA, Craig worked in customer services for 10 years. So what made him decide to make the career change? “My customer support experience taught me a lot of good transferrable skills, but I always knew I wanted to be an assistant. I never did it because I didn’t think I had the right experience to make someone want to hire me. Eventually, it got to the point where I told myself I couldn’t put it off any longer. I looked for roles that would allow me to utilise the skills I already had to get my foot in the door.” Why choose the PA profession? “It was the versatility of the job that attracted me. Unlike other jobs, you get a reach into other parts of the organisation. You have typical tasks as a PA, but every day changes. I really loved the idea of being an integral part of someone’s support system and knowing that I would be helping them succeed. It’s a really good feeling, and I thrive on being part of a close-knit team like that.” It wasn’t easy for Craig to break into the community, though. He explained in an article for our May/June 2017 issue that he faced judgement for the fact that he didn’t have the right experience to be a PA. He continued to push and eventually his persistence paid off. “You have to work hard for it because nobody is going to hand you the perfect job on a silver plate. If you want it, you’ve got to get out there and get it for yourself. It was a hard journey for me, because I went straight into work from school and a lot of companies were looking for people with degrees. I knew I could do the job though, so I pushed


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“I find it really hard to pinpoint what the issue is. I hear the argument that it’s ‘women’s work’, but that’s being disrespectful to both sexes. What are they trying to imply about the profession when they say that? I find it shocking in this day and age. Equality goes both ways – if you say women can do any job they want, the same has to go for men.” What challenges has Craig overcome on his career journey? “I’ve definitely made mistakes along the way, but luckily I’ve had amazing bosses who allowed me to learn from those mistakes. I’ve also come round to the fact that PAs have to be adaptable. At the end of the day, I believe a large part of my growth in the role is down to the way I’ve developed my skills. Learning from my peers has shaped the way I’ve grown.” That determination to succeed has obviously paid off, as Craig became the first man to win the Pitman SuperAchievers PA of the Year award. How did he get to that point? “I had never put myself forward for an award before, so I was really nervous about blowing my own trumpet. But when I started showing some interest in SuperAchievers, all of my bosses past and present, my colleagues and other PAs took the time to nominate me – even my first exec, who now lives in South Africa. It’s lovely to know that so many people feel strongly enough about me to take the time to recognise me. “The award is internationally recognised, so I thought it was mad when I got through to the voting round. I remember

Networking can sometimes be difficult for male EAs, as Craig points out that he’s often the only man in the room when he goes to events. When Victoria Darragh from the EPAA approached Craig to add his voice to the Not Just a Girl’s Job campaign, he couldn’t turn down the opportunity. “Victoria’s research found that 97 per cent of assistants are female – that means there’s such a small percentage of men in the profession. She wanted to find out why men aren’t taking up the role. Myself and the other male PAs in the campaign have had discussions about our own experience and what might be stopping other men from joining the profession. We’ve talked about stereotyping of male PAs. From that we decided to start promoting the job as a career choice for everyone regardless of their gender. A lot of people have asked me where I hope the job leads me, as if it’s a stop-gap to get my foot in the door with management positions, but I chose to be an EA as a career. Discrimination against male PAs does happen. I had never experienced it myself until I was looking for a new job; a fellow PA mentioned to her boss that I was on the market and he told her he thought it was weird and that he would never employ a male assistant. That was the first time I realised there are still people out there who think like that and hold those stereotypes. That’s why I think the EPAA’s campaign is so important.


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“More than anything, I think it’s changed my stance in the PA community; I’ve had a lot of assistants get in touch to congratulate me or ask me for advice. It has opened up more opportunities to give back, which I think is brilliant.” Looking to the future, Craig says: “Right now, I’m very happy where I am, but I don’t know what the future might bring. I will never turn down a good opportunity. In the meantime, I’d love to do more public speaking and writing.” Craig’s best advice for his fellow assistants: “Firstly, be tough-skinned and adaptable. Your boss needs you to be on the ball. Secondly, understand that development is key. I’m an advocate for gaining new skills; if you want to be the best assistant you can be, you have to keep learning.” That’s sound advice from a true champion of the profession.

getting the email saying I’d won; I was talking to a colleague and saw the message notification at the bottom of my screen. All it said was ‘congratulations’, so I thought it couldn’t be the award announcement. I must’ve read the email three times because I was so shocked. The other two finalists are absolutely amazing so any one of us deserved to get the award. Once the shock wore off I felt immensely proud. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am, and winning the award validates the effort I’ve put in. Being the first man to win it, I think it also says a lot to other men about the career. I can now stand as an ambassador for male PAs to show that we can be just as successful as women in the profession. It was also really nice to make my partner and my family proud because they mean the world to me.


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Christmas Parties

Reasons to be

FESTIVE Best Parties Ever, in conjunction with Together LDN, has released some eye-opening facts detailing why the office Christmas party is more than just a well-earned opportunity to let your hair down

This will enhance the team’s morale and encourage unity across the organisation.

Recent statistics found that happy employees are 10 times less likely to take time off sick than those suffering from severe bouts of stress and anxiety. As well as other year-round initiatives supporting the well-being of your workforce, Best Parties Ever highlights that the office Christmas party is an excellent way to boost positive vibes among a workforce. Here’s why.

There will be smiles all round A Christmas party can cater for all office personality types. Scientists often rave about the health benefits of laughter, so encouraging people away from their desks just to enjoy each other’s company will boost their positive outlook, not only on your business, but toward their own professional and social lives. Tim Stevens, Managing Director at Eventist Group comments: “A well-planned office Christmas do is one event on the work calendar that everyone looks forward to. By investing resource into your festive shindig, your staff will feel valued and motivated. With the exception of the next morning, the whole office will be ready to tackle another working year with vigour.” Christina Papadamou, Founder of Together LDN, which specialises in employee engagement and performance, says: “The office Christmas party is a great way to keep your team upbeat and enthusiastic in the last month of the year – there will be no December slump! Getting everyone involved with the decision-making process in the lead-up to the party will also ensure that everyone gets a say in this yearly extravaganza and gets people talking to other employees they wouldn’t usually engage with ahead of the event itself.”

The event encourages people to mingle We can be guilty of talking to the same people in the office every day. The company Christmas party lures people out of their usual cliques to interact with the rest of their colleagues. Not only will this form new and stronger working relationships, the quieter souls of the office will feel a lot more integrated and happier at work. The night offers the chance to celebrate a year of hard work This is your chance to show how proud you are of all members of your company. By giving recognition for the great results that have been achieved throughout the year, workers will head back to work in the New Year fresh-faced and ready to outdo the previous year. Your team will feel a part of something worthwhile By organising a festive experience that reflects your business identity (whether that be fun, flashy, or relaxed), your staff will feel part of something unique and meaningful.


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This year, don’t leave it until the last minute to plan your company Christmas party. From bespoke private dinners and themed Join-A-Parties, to informal gatherings with sharing platters, tailor-make your festive celebration with our flexible packages. Let Hilton craft your perfect Christmas.

Find out more at


THE ARABIAN TENT COMPANY The Arabian Tent Company is a bespoke Christmas venue décor and marquee specialist based in Sussex. The Arabian Tent’s collection for 2017/2018 entwines old tradition with an invigorating twist, each theme transporting your guests to another world. It provides event furniture hire, lighting, drapes, unique handmade décor and stunning accessories, and will work with you every step of the way to design your ‘look’ from installation to post-party take down. Let Arabian Tents transform your event by beautifully decorating your venue for corporate or private Christmas parties.

AT-BRISTOL SCIENCE CENTRE The spaces within At-Bristol Science Centre and Bristol Aquarium offer flexible options for corporate Christmas parties of up to 300 people, with a stunning festive buffet menu available from on-site caterer Elior. This year’s ‘Winter Wonder Lab’ package includes a welcome glass of fizz, exclusive use of the ground floor of the centre prior to your party – for the chance to look around the exhibits as a special treat – a private bar and DJ, as well as a delicious two-course buffet, all from just £36 +VAT per person. Plus, booking your party with At-Bristol Science Centre helps the venue’s mission to keep science accessible for all.

BUTLIN’S CONFERENCE & EVENTS This year Butlin’s is bringing a twist to its dinner, bed and breakfast Christmas packages, which on selected dates will include exclusive hire of the American pool and 10-pin bowling venue Hotshots, a free welcome drink and a present for each delegate – saving you more than £2,500. The night comes complete with a festive private dining experience at your choice of restaurant or a gala dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, followed by an overnight stay on the resort and breakfast the next morning. Selected dates throughout November, December and January are now available to book. | 0330 102 5306


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Save 10%*

Make your festive season extra special at The Tower Hotel and experience our unique location, with incredible views over Tower Bridge and the River Thames. Whether you are looking for a festive lunch, exclusive party or seeing in the New Year we have got it all wrapped up with a great selection of seasonal celebrations. And if you book by 31st September, you’ll receive 10% off your booking when you quote ‘PA Life’. To book please call 0207 423 8891 or email *Terms and conditions apply. Quote ‘PA Life’ when booking by 31st September 2017.

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CAMDEN DINING The Camden Dining Group offers several unique venue options to make your Christmas party an event to remember. The brand-new Gabeto features a distinctive take on contemporary brasserie dining and caters for up to 300, while the South African-themed Shaka Zulu is famous for its spectacular décor and can host up to 800. There’s also Gilgamesh, with its impressive hand-carved wooden interiors and amazing pan-Asian cuisine, as well as the re-launched Ginger Martini cocktail bar within Gilgamesh – perfect for smaller private receptions and parties of up to 110 people.

CLEVEDON HALL With its winning combination of history, opulence and culinary delights, Clevedon Hall provides the perfect backdrop to a truly special Christmas party. The Grade II*-listed mansion, which stands in several acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, hosts drinks, dinner and dancing for up to 250 people on set nights throughout the season. The hall hosts combined parties at which companies can book tables, rooms, or a number of places. Larger organisations with extensive guest lists can exclusively hire the entire property. Packages are available from £41 per ticket but get snapped up quickly. | 01275 795895 |

CORRIGAN’S MAYFAIR The iconic Corrigan’s Mayfair has Christmas all wrapped up for 2017. Its four private dining rooms are each individually decorated, making them the perfect setting for stylish festive celebrations. Why not start the fun with a drink in the brand-new Dickie’s Bar, with its creative cocktail creations? If you have a larger team, the entire restaurant is available for private hire and can host up to 80 people. Richard Corrigan has crafted beautiful festive menus, with options ranging from a Wellington twist on turkey and trimmings to beef, guinea fowl and halibut. Packages start from just £50 per person.


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Enjoy exciting party nights this Festive Season


Celebrate with us on either Friday 15 or Saturday 16 December 2017






+44 (0)20 7758 4141


Celebrate in style this festive season in the Gleneagles Ballroom where you will enjoy delicious dining, fabulous entertainment from the Soul Brothers, a luxurious overnight stay, breakfast the following morning and full use of The Health Club facilities.

The Ultimate Party Band The Soul Brother’s frontman, Heshima Thompson, sang backing vocals for Amy Winehouse. The trio offer a fresh Motown sound for the 21st Century, with charttopping hits such as Get On Up and Superstition, through to modern hits like Uptown Funk.

What’s Included: Champagne & canapés Delicious three-course dinner Fantastic entertainment from The Soul Brothers A luxurious overnight stay including the legendary Gleneagles breakfast Full use of The Health Club facilities

We create unique, bespoke themed events at exclusive locations, even yours.

From £250 per person, based on two people sharing a classic room

Contact our Reservations Team to book on 0800 328 4010

international. To discuss your festive requirements, please call us on 01908 965555 or email 24 PALife July/August.indd 3

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EMIRATES OLD TRAFFORD Something magical is about to happen – are you ready? Emirates Old Trafford will wave its magic wand and transform into a winter wonderland for the party season, creating festive parties that shine with a range of food and drinks packages to suit all tastes and requirements. Make Christmas 2017 a season to remember as you dance the night away in the sumptuous surroundings of the award-winning venues where you, your colleagues and friends will be transported to an enchanted place. Prices start from £32 per person. 0161 282 4020 |

EVOLUTION INTERNATIONAL Turn your Christmas party themes into reality this year. No need to join strangers at a venue’s off-the-shelf party when you can create your own. From a Winter Wonderland to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Evolution designs, organises and delivers bespoke events to any theme across the UK and Europe – even in your own office. The team selects unique venues, creates ‘wow factor’ themes and organises everything from food and drink to entertainment, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the party alongside your colleagues and friends. | 01908 985 555

FOODBYDISH This year, FoodbyDish can be found catering at some of London’s best venues. From the celebrity-themed Madame Tussauds to the elegance of No11 Cavendish Square, there’s such a diverse venue base there is no shortage of entertainment and surprise to suit all budgets. No11 Cavendish Square boasts two themes this year; Dickensian or Narnia. Step through the wardrobe into the snowy surroundings of the forest or indulge in the splendour of Victoriana. Whether you choose the traditional Christmas turkey or something more adventurous, there are menus to suit all palates. Be as daring or conservative as you wish. | 0208 269 0398


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THE GLENEAGLES HOTEL The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire is a truly indulgent and magical destination for the festive period. You can celebrate Christmas in style with your colleagues and clients at the venue’s Festive Party Nights on 15 and 16 December, with delicious festive dining, fabulous entertainment and a luxurious overnight stay to round out the night. There is also a choice of three festive accommodation breaks on offer to make your Christmas extra special this year. Get in touch today to find out more and secure your place. 0800 389 3737

HILTON WORLDWIDE Hilton has something for everyone, with 79 properties across the UK; whether it’s a bespoke private dinner, a themed shared party night, or an informal gathering with sharing platters and fizz, you can create a truly unique event. You can choose to get your dancing shoes on and shake a leg, or treat your team to a handcrafted, seasonal three or four-course private dining experience. There’s even afternoon tea. With so many options available, you’re sure to find a solution that suits your needs and budget. So don’t leave it to the last minute; let Hilton craft your Christmas.

JOCKEY CLUB VENUES We’re racing towards Christmas party season and Jockey Club Venues London is taking the stress out of organising the office festivities with a number of different packages. Surrey-based racecourses Epsom Downs and Sandown Park are both holding shared Christmas parties starting from £55 per person. Private parties are also available at Epsom Downs, Kempton Park and Sandown Park and provide you the perfect way to celebrate with your colleagues. They offer the perfect packages to exceed your highest expectations and a dedicated member of the Christmas party sales team will be delighted to accommodate your needs.


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0- 38inc.5 VAT rson

per pe

Delight in the magic of the holiday season and celebrate your Christmas party in the heart of Santa’s workshop at M Shed. Our fun filled environment will create a truly unique experience. Whether you are looking for a private lunch, evening party or wish to join one of our shared party nights – M Shed has perfect packages all tied up in a bow! Have you been good this year? Well, Santa will chose one lucky winner from the Nice List to receive an early Christmas present.

0117 927 3086

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Christmas Parties at Emirates Old Trafford

Exclusive Private Parties

A Christmas Extravaganza

Work’s Finished for Christmas Party Night

Brand New Hilton Garden Inn Hotel

from £35pp (inc VAT)

from £56pp (inc VAT)

£32pp (inc VAT)

The perfect magical end to your Christmas Party.

Book your Christmas Party now on 0161 282 4020 or

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LUTON HOO The quintessentially English, five-star Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa, only 20 minutes on the train from London St Pancras, invites you to its exclusive private events venue Warren Weir for a spectacular celebration this Christmas. Available on selected dates throughout the month of December, the festive party package includes champagne on arrival, three-course meal, half a bottle of wine per person and DJ and dancing. The cost is £89 per person, with overnight stays available for £175 per room including breakfast. Bespoke private parties can also be booked. | 01582 698888

M SHED Delight in the magic of the holiday season and celebrate your Christmas party in the heart of Santa’s workshop at M Shed in Bristol. The fun-filled environment will create a truly unique experience. Have you been good this year? Well, Santa will choose one lucky winner from the Nice List to receive an early Christmas present. Whether you are looking for a private lunch, evening party, or wish to join one of the shared party nights – M Shed has perfect packages all tied up in a bow. | 0117 9273086 | events.mshed@

NO4 HAMILTON PLACE No4 Hamilton Place is an exquisite historic venue situated in the heart of Mayfair. Its event spaces are steeped in history, featuring Louis XVI gilt cornicing, breathtaking chandeliers and a baroque staircase. The property works closely with caterer FoodbyDish to offer a wealth of Christmas party packages to suit any taste and budget. Each option can include venue hire, theming and décor, a sparkling wine reception and drinks throughout, as well as a choice of menus and live DJ entertainment for the ultimate Christmas party experience. | 020 7670 4314


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STAMFORD BRIDGE Celebrate your office Christmas party at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club. Whether shared or exclusive, hosting your event at this world-class venue will guarantee a magical night for all. For 2017 there are two party packages available – a Snowflake Suite Soirée and a Masquerade Party, both in newly refurbished event spaces due to be revealed in the coming months. Boasting a choice of bars for pre-party drinks, a range of flexible function suites available from just £65 +VAT per person and hotel accommodation all in one fantastic location, Stamford Bridge truly is London’s most complete venue for your festive celebrations.

THE TOWER HOTEL Make your festive season extra special at The Tower Hotel. Experience the venue’s unique location and incredible views over Tower Bridge and the River Thames. Whether you are looking for a festive lunch, an exclusive party, or seeing in the New Year with your colleagues and friends, The Tower Hotel has got it all wrapped up, with a great selection of seasonal celebrations. Festive evenings in the Tower Suite offer a sumptuous meal, with packages starting from £49 per person. 0207 423 8891

TOWER OF LONDON Hold your Christmas party at one of the world’s most famous fortresses and one of Britain’s most visited historic sites. Explore 1,000 years of history on a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) tour, or treat your guests to a private viewing of the famous Crown Jewels. Enjoy first-class personal service from a dedicated event manager, who is able to advise and help you choose the perfect venue for your company’s Christmas party, whether it’s the iconic White Tower, the impressive New Armouries, or the fantastic Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. 020 3166 6226


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TWICKENHAM STADIUM Travel back to the Roaring Twenties this year at Twickenham Stadium, where the Rose Suite will be transformed to create the theme of the decade. Shared and private party packages include a dedicated event manager, casino tables, a DJ and a choice of a three-course seated dinner or a two-course festive carvery. Meanwhile, the stadium’s hidden wine cellar will offer a private dining package with a Dickensian theme for up to 14 people, featuring several menu options to suit any taste and budget. Prices start from just £45 per person. 020 8744 9997

VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION – KASBAH TAMADOT If you’re after some winter sun this Christmas, look no further than a stay at Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. This stunning 28-bedroom hotel is the perfect retreat for rest and relaxation, where the sun shines bright during the day – and with the pools at a comfortable 28°C, a middle-of-the-day swim is the norm. As the evenings draw in, get cosy in the library or Asmoun Lounge in front of the fire with a good book and a warm drink. Make sure to take advantage of special seasonal offers and packages to really ensure 2017 ends on a high.

WYBOSTON LAKES Calling all party organisers. The team at Wyboston Lakes knows planning the company Christmas party can sometimes be a thankless task, however they are here to make it easy for you. This year Wyboston Lakes has more party dates than ever before and are able to cater for groups of two to 300, with prices for events starting from just £39.95 per person. Last year’s favourites Winter Wonderland and casino evenings are back and joined by Holly Jolly Disco, Tinsel Town Party and Tinsel Town Tribute nights all set to be great events guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit.


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CONFERENCE STYLE IS READY TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL THE PRESSURE OF FINDING A VENUE. You get all the accolades and we do all the backstage work! Conference Style becomes a FREE additional member of your team. We do the venue search, the negotiation, the proposal, the site visits with you (subject to geographical location) and the confirmation. We place events anywhere in the world! Do you want a venue that reflects the objectives of your event? Do you have to meet Procurement requirements? Do you have no idea where you want to go? Do you have an incentive trip to place somewhere in the world? The service is free to the client, it saves a tremendous amount of time and consequently money. There are no catches! – as one of our longest standing clients often tells us - it’s a no brainer and I couldn’t do my job without you. Conference Style can meet all the above requests and throw in the odd curved ball just to shake it all up a bit and offer even more options. Conference Style is a long- established venue finding agency with a small team of experienced professionals ready for any challenge thrown at them! The agency is managed by a mother and daughter combination guaranteeing that very personal and dedicated approach that has been a winning formula for many clients including Costa, Iris Software, Whitbread and many more.

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01252 847 489

Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, RG27 8AS

A registered charity (no. 1049954)

Do something different this Christmas and host your party in the At-Bristol Winter Wonder Lab or discover the treasures of the deep in the amazing Bristol Aquarium!

For further information contact our friendly events team. E | P | 0117 915 8000 activities - music - art - workshops - films

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pa life event

Toby Cruse gets the inside track on PA Life’s newest event, the London PA Summit Described as ‘speed dating for business’, companies will be put in contact with leading decision makers for private, pre-arranged meetings and a bespoke itinerary. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore the venue and take part in a drinks reception following the day’s meetings. The Hippodrome is excited to be hosting such a valuable networking opportunity for PAs. “The summit delivers everything and more for an individual looking to promote and showcase their product with effective one-to-one appointments and networking with key decision makers,” said Amy Law, head of sales at Hippodrome Casino. “It’s a must-attend event for any organisation and worth the time and return on investment.” To register as a delegate, visit, or contact Laura Spratt on 01992 374 4053 or email If you’re a supplier interested in meeting top-level EAs, contact Lucy Kingsbury on 01992 374 059 or email

London’s Hippodrome Casino is partnering with PA Life to host the new London PA Summit. The one-day event will take place on 7 November and invites PAs, EAs and administrative assistants to make relevant connections with key industry venues and suppliers. An extension of the highly successful PA Life Summit, the London PA Summit brings PAs together with those in venues, corporate gifting and hospitality industries as a brand new summit within the PA Life event portfolio. Taking place at The Hippodrome, the PA Life team is excited to be working closely with the venue as the ideal space for private meetings and casual conversations. “We’re so pleased to be teaming up with The Hippodrome for our brand new London PA Summit,” said Molly Dyson, Editor of PA Life. “Having sponsored the London PA Awards two years running and seen what the venue can do, we felt Amy Law and the team were the perfect fit for our capitalfocused summit. Everyone at PA Life is excited to bring this event to life.”


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Find your inner



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“research shows that multi-tasking negatively affects performance and decreases productivity by up to 40 per cent.” Mindfulness Expert Dana Zelicha presents five steps to unleashing your inner superhero and finding the right work-life balance using mindfulness performance and decreases productivity by up to 40 per cent. Unexpected problems may pop up throughout the week, but carving out one permanent ‘uni-tasking day’ can help you feel effective and more in control. Try to choose one day a week where you make it your goal to only focus on one task at a time and to really be attentive to whatever you’re doing. Divide your workday into ‘uni-tasking episodes’ – define each one, and dedicate a specific time for each task. For instance, 10am to 11am can be scheduled for preparing the presentation you haven’t had time to work on, then only focus on completing that task with all of your attention and effort.

Are you a working woman who feels pressure to find balance? Is fear or uncertainty stopping you from making leaps or moving forward? Society and instinct have made women primary care-takers, however we cannot constructively and in a healthy manner take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Taking the time to become mindful of who we are as women can give us clarity and empowerment to discover our strengths and unleash our inner Wonder Woman. The clearer we are with our thoughts and needs, the better we become at communicating with our families, friends and colleagues, and less reactive to the demand and expectations of our surroundings. Being able to accept ourselves and our emotions without judgement can help us feel more confident and live with more intention and meaning. Wonder Woman symbolises many of the values of the women’s culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream – strength, self-reliance, sisterhood and mutual support, as well as peacefulness and esteem for human life. However, in today’s society and the modern workforce, women continue to face challenges to push past boundaries and surpass societal expectations. Here are five mindfulness tips for all of the Wonder Women out there who are interested in empowerment and reaching their full potential while keeping their values and morals and remembering who they really are.

Plan your day – To calm your mind, to get restful sleep and to avoid feeling overwhelmed the next day, dedicate about 20 minutes a day to write down a plan for the following day. Go through all the meetings you have, how much free time you expect and what you can realistically achieve in the designated time slots. Try to prioritise tasks and assess whether or not you need to call on any colleagues to help. This enables you to pre-empt issues that could arise and go to sleep feeling prepared for the next day. Meditate 10 minutes a day – You’re probably thinking, “Meditation? I don’t have the time to meditate, I’m too busy!” While you’re very busy juggling your personal and professional life, you may feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. The good news is that meditation can be done in just a few short minutes when you find a spare moment or in between tasks. Think about all the times you idly scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or browse the internet for the same (if not more) amount of time. Using those pockets of downtime for meditating could be just what the doctor ordered to get you refocused and back on track.

Digital detox time – Make sure to turn all screens off at least 30 minutes before getting into bed – that means no phone, no laptop and no iPad; try to store devices in a different room to the bedroom overnight. This stops us from using them straight before sleep, which is important since issues can sometimes coexist with technology addiction. Getting out of bed can sometimes be the most challenging part of your day, particularly if you have a busy schedule ahead. Bombarding your brain with a barrage of information before giving your mind and body a chance to properly wake up is only going to result in increased stress. Instead, open the curtains and take a look outside, get a breath of fresh air and stretch your body.

Eat mindfully – Throughout the workday always ask yourself: “Am I really hungry right now? Does my body really need that?” Being more aware while you’re eating helps to avoid overeating or snacking when you’re not truly hungry. Many of us have also the tendency to ‘stress eat’, but making a plan to have a mindful lunch where you get to fully enjoy your food helps curb these unhealthy habits and gives time in the workday to look forward to. So instead of sitting at the computer and inhaling a sandwich, try to change your scenery and sit somewhere quiet so that you can actually enjoy your food.

Start uni-tasking – The belief that multi-tasking helps us accomplish everything we have to get done is a myth; research has shown that multi-tasking negatively affects


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Discover the ideal venue for your next event… No matter how experienced you are, finding the right venue for your event can be a daunting task. Use your time effectively to connect with representatives from around 40 diverse venues all in one place, for one day only.

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TIME TO REGISTER... 36 PALife July/August.indd 3

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Instant connection Stuart Logan, Chief HR Officer at SoftServe explains how his company has utilised Workplace by Facebook to help its global employees stay in touch The results More than six months later, we have 87 per cent active users (30 per cent visit the platform one or more times per day, 30 per cent several times per week, and the remaining 40 per cent at least once per month). We have 200-plus active groups and counting. Thanks to Workplace, our employees and management have become closer, and communication between them has become more systematic and frequent. We chat, tell jokes, discuss news, go live and brainstorm simultaneously and asynchronously within one environment. The tool also turned out to be a very effective recognition platform, where positive feedback about SoftServe employees is shared companywide and employees are able to receive immediate congratulations from management.

In October 2016, Facebook announced the launch of its corporate social network, Workplace. People work in different ways, and Workplace’s mission is to help them stay connected. For SoftServe, a global digital services company with offices across Europe and the USA, it became a chance to connect employees through a new tool with a familiar platform. The background Our company’s focus on digital transformation on all levels of its operations has a big impact on internal processes. While offering services to clients, we are fostering the same digital approach internally. We wanted to find an appropriate tool that would scale our growth and satisfy current and future communication needs. The implementation The Workplace implementation process lasted a month, with 17 team members involved from our legal, IT, information security and communications teams. The first step toward adjusting Workplace’s group-based communication approach was to design a group matrix. Then we proceeded to an ‘Early Champions’ stage. We selected around 400 active employees as ambassadors to create groups, fill them with interesting and relevant content prior to the launch and promote the tool afterwards. To create buzz around the launch, we distributed informal teasers and a series of emails. The IT team made sure that all employee profiles were ready and filled with basic information before users first visited Workplace. On the day of the launch, a Q&A group was created for employees to ask questions regarding the network.

The future Workplace perfectly meets SoftServe’s internal communication needs, and in many ways even exceeds our initial expectations. We see an opportunity to explore the relationship of how digitally engaged an employee is with other data analytics, such as performance and attrition, as well as using machine learning algorithms to see if there are other insights that could help improve communication and collaboration. We also see the opportunity to create a socially-driven employee recognition platform that would be intrinsically connected to Workplace. We look forward to becoming even more successful during our digital transformation process, and we believe Facebook is a critical partner and Workplace a critical tool in our ecosystem to support our associates and SoftServe’s growth.


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Island Life

Molly Dyson has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the Dominican Republic with a group of PAs to learn what the island has to offer for corporate groups Dinner on this first night is held in Capers, the resort’s Italian restaurant. It’s important to note at this point that Now Onyx, like all of the resorts we’re about to visit, is an all-inclusive option, meaning meals won’t cost you or your guests extra (aside from a small selection of special dishes). The chefs at Capers know what they’re doing, and we all head for our beds comfortably full and chatting about how good the food is. The next morning brings another surprise in the shape of Now’s International Buffet, where breakfast is served. Believe me when I say its size and range of options are simply superb, with something for everyone. Our group meets in the main lobby for a tour of the property and its 502 suites, 10 restaurants, 10 bars and a meeting room with space for up to 250 theatre-style. The large pool in the centre of the resort features a deck that can be used for private parties and dinners, as well as access to a beach that is perfect for barbeques and celebrations. Next door is Breathless Punta Cana, which offers a thriving party scene for younger guests in addition to 750 suites, 11 restaurants, nine bars and the on-site Silk Convention Center. In this facility you’ll find a ballroom with its own entrance that can accommodate up to 950 theatre-style and can also be divided into three smaller spaces. Plus, there’s the Sense Ballroom with its three break-out areas. Just a short drive away is Dreams Palm Beach, which also features a large conference centre with a ballroom, as well as the ability to hold dinners and parties by the pool or on the beach. All of the Preferred Club rooms have recently been renovated and there is an adults-only section for the ultimate escape. We’re given the afternoon to relax by the pool and try out the ultra-cool swim-up bar – the perfect way to round out

We consider ourselves very lucky here at PA Life; we have the opportunity to visit incredible venues around the UK and get invited to sample corporate offerings in other countries. I’m telling you this to add some perspective when I say I was blown away the day I received an invitation from AM Resorts to join a small group of PAs on a familiarisation trip to the Dominican Republic in the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. The AM Resorts portfolio encompasses a selection of brands across Mexico, the Caribbean and South America, including Breathless, Dreams, Zoetry, Now, Secrets and Sunscape. This particular trip is focused on the MICE offering available at a selection of the company’s locations around the island, many of which feature dedicated conference centres and private dining options, so perfect for groups and incentives. Our journey starts in true style, with Business Class seats aboard British Airways’ direct flight from London Gatwick to Punta Cana Airport. Having never flown in such luxury, I feel like a kid in a candy shop during the nine-hour trip, which features a welcoming glass of champagne and a three-course meal with a choice of starters and mains, as well as free-flowing drinks (and snacks in the Raid the Larder option) throughout. Upon landing in Dominican Republic, we’re greeted by super-friendly representatives from AMStar, AM Resorts’ DMC partner. A quick bus ride takes us to the all-suite Now Onyx, which opened in November 2016. The main lobby alone, with its sleek design, lets us know we’re in for something special. My Junior Suite is spacious and stylish, sitting in the Preferred Club adults-only section of the resort. To my surprise, this is one of the brand’s four-star properties – though it certainly looks and feels like a five-star.


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adult-only Secrets Cap Cana. It sits within a private gated community, so only those with hotel reservations or a house beyond the gates can enter, making it the ideal location for secluded corporate retreats. The best has definitely been saved for last – I’m left totally breathless by my gorgeous suite, only to discover it’s an entry-level room and the quality only goes up from there. Following a farewell dinner at the Portofino restaurant’s wine cave, we head to one of Punta Cana’s biggest tourist attractions, the Coco Bongo nightclub. This isn’t a traditional nightclub, though. You’re in for a real treat at the venue, which is partially based on the cult classic The Mask. It’s part Cirque du Soleil, part tribute night, part disco, with gravity-

the venue tour. But there’s not much rest for the wicked, as we’re invited to the nearby Zoetry Agua for dinner. This is the ultimate retreat from the world – tranquil music plays throughout the property as we take a look at its luxurious suites before heading to the Piragua restaurant for a scrumptious Creole meal. Day three is the one we’re all excited for, as AMStar has organised a catamaran trip out to Saona Island, part of Dominican Republic’s East National Park. Half-way to the destination we stop at a sandbar that has formed a natural pool, where we sip drinks in chest-deep warm water and get our pictures taken with live starfish. Arriving on the island, we’re treated to a grilled lobster lunch and given time to take

“The Dominican Republic has something for everyone.” defying performances from acrobats set to popular music, actors recreating scenes from films and lip-syncing lookalikes, all interspersed with thumping dance tunes to allow guests to have their own boogie. It’s bizarre and intriguing all at once – definitely one for younger companies or those with an adventurous side. Our flight back is bittersweet, but thanks to a morning spent by the pool and the hospitality of British Airways, I sleep the journey away and wake up at Gatwick bright and early in the morning refreshed for the day ahead. Dominican Republic may be half a world away, but it really does have something for everyone, especially with a wealth of AM Resorts properties on the island. It’s well worth the journey. Special thanks to Cara Hotel Marketing/AM Resorts (, AMStar ( and British Airways ( for providing our readers with top-notch hospitality during this Dominican Republic adventure. To find out more, contact Donna Sweeney-Simmons at

advantage of the beautiful beach before jumping on a speed boat to zip over to Dreams La Romana. Dinner tonight is very special indeed, as the resort’s group sales manager has arranged for us to have a private dinner on a jetty located near the open-air Oceana restaurant following our venue tour. The property is ideal for large groups, with 756 rooms and suites, 11 restaurants and a ballroom with space for up to 750 delegates. Some of the unique selling points here include a 24-hour on-site medical centre, a casino and – my favourite part – live flamingos within the grounds. In the morning we have breakfast at Olio – situated in the adults-only section – and the staff are very accommodating with my need for gluten-free options. The next day brings us to the brand-new Dreams Dominicus. The resort has a Spanish feel to it, with haciendastyle buildings and a central plaza that’s perfect for stylish outdoor parties and receptions. Above the lobby sits a good-sized boardroom. On to our final destination of the trip, the ultra-cool,


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hotel review

Checking In Molly Dyson travels to Kent to discover the impressive business options on offer at Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club Destinations outside of London are getting more and more popular every year, which is why I thought it was important to start travelling further afield to look at venues. Tudor Park is the kind of hotel that offers something for everyone, with space for up to 250 delegates alongside a championship 18-hole golf course for the ultimate ‘bleisure’ stay. I visit for our PA Life Club networking event, where members are treated to a scrumptiously healthy buffet lunch followed by a chance to win a bottle of champagne with a round of putting lessons. Staff at the hotel are incredibly attentive and ensure all of us have a fantastic time – and we do. Following a full day of work, I’m glad I’ve been booked to stay at the property to test out the bedrooms and leisure facilities. I head straight to the well-equipped gym for my evening treadmill session, and I’m pleased to see that even with a large number of guests and people from the community using the amenities, there’s still plenty of room for me to get in some exercise. Next to the gym is a good-sized indoor swimming pool, which again is busy but not overcrowded.

After a quick shower in the excellent bathroom in my Deluxe room, I head down to the Conical Grill (now rebranded as the Cast Iron Grill) for dinner. My carrot soup starter is a little under-salted if I’m being honest, but still tasty – the perfect combination with a succulent, grilled chicken fillet served with a side salad and yummy chips. Dessert brings a delectable panna cotta and a lovely cup of coffee. Back in my room, I catch up on work emails thanks to the venue’s super-fast wifi while flicking through the channels. The comfy king-size bed is too soft, though, and I soon drift off to blissful sleep in the quiet and cosy surrounds of the Kent countryside. If you’re in need of a hotel that’s well connected and offers state-of-the-art conferencing facilities, Tudor Park is definitely worth a look; and if you have any golfers on your team, they’ll be delighted by the luxurious clubhouse and course. Room rates start from £95; Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Ashford Road, Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent ME14 4NQ; 01622 734 334;


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Coin Street Venues • Team building, conferences, meetings, events and exhibitions spaces to hire • Located on London’s South Bank, five minutes walk from London Waterloo

Coin Street Conference Centre • Contemporary meeting and conference space • Capacities ranging from 6–250 • Fully accessible meeting and event spaces • Comprehensive audio-visual facilities • Roof terrace with stunning views of London’s skyline

Team Building • Escape the office and give your colleagues an unforgettable team building experience • Choice of fully supervised team building activities, including Crystal Maze and Qube games • Suitable for 10-50 participants • Wet weather contingency included • Outdoor spaces for summer parties up to 300 people

Experiential and exhibition spaces • Versatile indoor and outdoor venues for events, product launches and receptions • Contemporary riverside exhibition spaces at the iconic Oxo Tower Wharf • Gallery available for evening receptions up to 150 people • Riverside Walkway and gardens for experiential activations

Get in touch to discuss your event with our friendly venues team

Tel: 020 7021 1650 | email: | Web: By using our venues you are investing in a community All profits from our venue hire is invested back into the local community as part of Coin Street Community Builders’ social enterprise principles.


How to write the perfect venue-find brief Nail your perfect meeting or event venue with briefing tips from the experts at Capita Travel and Events

Be as accurate as possible. The more detail you can provide – including timings, budgets and numbers – the clearer our venue ideas and solutions can be. A jump from 100 to 300 guests can make a big difference to the venues and activities we can suggest. Know your budget. You don’t want to organise your training programme in a high-tech venue, only to end up without enough left in the pot for accommodation. Don’t lose sight of the goal. If you need to deliver some bad news about missed sales targets, a glitzy venue with a high-end lunch might send the wrong message. Or, if your customers will be

attending, we can pull out all the stops to impress them. Don’t think about the meeting in isolation. How will your guests get there and back? We have experts who can organise all accommodation, travel and connections. Be as specific as possible when it comes to location. It’s good to know if you want to be in London – but London is a big place! And if you’re happy for attendees to make their own way to the venue, how many tube stops are too many? Remember the good times – but embrace the new. Telling us about

events you’ve enjoyed in the past will help us find something that suits you again. We’re venue experts, so we love to suggest some wild card ideas to wow your guests! But if you’ve heard of a venue and think it might work, tell us. There’s no such thing as too late. We’ve had requests to organise meetings at one days’ notice. If you’ve already found a venue, we’ll gladly manage all other aspects of your event planning. The more detailed your brief, the better a proposal we can provide. Even if you don’t have ideas in mind, we’ll work with you to organise a successful meeting or event. We look forward to working with you!

CONTACT DETAILS: Whatever the size and scale of your meeting or event, talk to our experts about your needs. T: 0330 390 0340 E: W: Twitter: @captravelevents LinkedIn: capitatravelevents


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WHAT WE ATE Scottish langoustine – £26 Scottish scallops – £24 Organic Welsh lamb – £34 Challans chicken – £36 Kalingo chocolate – £14 White mille-feuille – £14

CONTACT La Dame de Pic, Four Seasons Hotel London, 10 Trinity Square EC3N 4AJ 020 3297 3799

TRIED & TASTED The culinary expertise of Anne-Sophie Pic comes to London for the first time in a fantastic fusion of food and style at the new Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square

and geranium, while my plus-one’s scallops marinated in black cardamom and jasmine with apple granité looks more like an artist’s interpretation of Connect Four yet tastes divine. For mains, my eyes are immediately drawn to the Challans chicken, which is marinated in Saké and served with cabbage, razor clams and a lemony sauce. It disappears with no remorse. My companion goes for the organic Welsh lamb marinated in Chartreuse with orange blossom artichoke; his is gone with equal speed, as it’s all simply too tasty. My dining partner has done his research and eagerly orders the famed white mille-feuille, a supreme layering of delicate pastry and jasmine jelly encased in Tahitian vanilla ice cream with Voatsiperifery pepper foam. Meanwhile, I’m completely smitten by the Kalingo chocolate creation, which resembles a miniature garden with its topping of cocoa nibs and aromatic herbs and is the perfect end to a superb meal. If you’re in need of something unique to impress your boss, add La Dame de Pic to your list. You really can’t go wrong. Molly Dyson

From the moment you step into the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square, you know you’re in for something special. As if the grand façade of the Grade II*-listed former Port of London Authority building wasn’t enough to impress, the elegant Rotunda bar that welcomes you inside is sure to please. To the side of this marvellous entrance is La Dame de Pic, Michelin-starred Chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s first venture into the UK. Best known for being the only female chef to hold three Michelin stars in France for her restaurant Maison Pic in the southeast, Pic has thankfully decided to bring her talents to London, and what a setting Four Seasons has developed for her. It’s simple, yet elegant, with mirrored pillars throughout, comfy booth seating and an impressively intricate white cut-out chandelier dominating the centre of the space. The backdrop certainly suits the menu Pic has created – her signature style of cooking with unusual ingredients is put to excellent use with a few key choices for each part of the meal. My starter of Scottish langoustines goes surprisingly well with a heirloom carrot bouillon infused with pine tree buds


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WHAT WE ATE Atlantic sea scallops – £13.50 Crispy duck salad – £9.25 Crab linguine – £17.95 Seared yellowfin tuna – £18.95 Flourless cappuccino cake – £7.75 Panna Cotta – £6.75 Two glasses of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee – £25 San Pellegrino sparkling water – £4.75

CONTACT The Ivy City Garden, Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street London EC2M 1QS 020 3146 7744


Classic sophistication meets modern elegance as The Ivy Collection comes to the City

Both are a delicious start to the evening when paired with a glass of Nyetimber English sparkling wine. The main event brings seared yellowfin tuna steaks for me, which are served crusted in sesame seeds with shaved fennel, edamame, wasabi sauce and daikon cress. It’s light and oh so tasty. My plus-one goes for the crab linguine and loves the fact it’s made with a mix of pasta and courgette noodles. Both of us are starting to get full, but we can’t resist the dessert menu. I go for an old favourite, vanilla panna cotta topped with peaches and raspberry liqueur sauce, while she only has eyes for the flourless cappuccino cake. I have a bite and immediately decide I’m having it when I come back at a later date, which is set in stone after this brilliant meal. Add this to your list of must-try, sophisticated City restaurants. Molly Dyson

The mention of The Ivy Collection is obviously enough to draw plenty of attention to a restaurant; when I visit the chain’s latest venture just around the corner from Liverpool Street station on a Tuesday night, I’m not surprised to find it heaving. The Ivy City Garden has everything going for it – a well-known name, a convenient location and a menu with just the right blend of moderate pricing and classic Ivy flavours. The venue itself is gorgeous – it’s named so thanks to a green haven built into a terrace at the back of the restaurant, which is open-air when the weather’s nice and covered when it inevitably starts raining. The décor carries a jungle theme, with colourful patterned paintings dotted around. Upstairs you’ll find a quiet private dining space with a private bar. My PA guest and I turn up hungry, so I plump for the crispy duck salad to start, while she chooses the Atlantic sea scallops.


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Sit back and relax, knowing your executives are in safe hands. With over 40 years of experience, we make getting your travellers from A to B as seamless as possible. We deliver outstanding service for you at a scale and quality that no other transport partner can provide. With industry-leading driver training, sophisticated technology, and support 24/7, we provide outstanding service from start to finish.

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Charity Partner

Muscle Dreams figure and explains how seeing young people having one of the best days of their life is his “motivation and his fuel to continue his mission”. As the beneficiaries – aged between 11 and 21 years old – enjoyed being shown how to operate a £10,000 drone and treated to the epic engine sounds of a Porsche 911 and a vintage Ferrari, it was amazing to see how quickly Michael and the MHF volunteers form a rapport with the beneficiaries and the families. Michael’s own MD diagnosis at the age of 18 means he has lived with the condition for more than 30 years, and his expeditions to the north and south poles gave birth to the MHF and the 657 dreams idea. It has since gone on to snowball and continues to go from strength to strength – with Lorraine Kelly, Kenneth Branagh and Richard Branson included in its supporters. The Porsche experience is one of many such experiences organised by the charity and this particular outing marked the sixth

Speeding along a Formula 1 track at 120 miles an hour in a Porsche is probably every petrol head’s dream. And for eight beneficiaries of the muscular dystrophy charity Muscle Help Foundation (MHF), that dream became a reality on a summer’s day back in June. Eight lucky speed addicts and their families took part in the latest Porsche Muscle Dream – now a regular event on the charity’s calendar – at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone. The day, which was hosted at Whittlebury Hall, started with an introductory briefing from the foundation’s creator Michael McGrath. Michael’s passion for what he does is in evident from the moment you meet him. His aim, with the help of numerous volunteers, donors and ambassadors, is to fulfil the dreams of children and young people living with muscular dystrophy. In fact, MHF hopes to achieve 657 dreams – one for every muscle in the human body – and to date have hit the 257 mark. Michael is confident of reaching the ultimate


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Charity Partner

Our charity partner The Muscle Help Foundation offered children with muscular dystrophy the adventure of a lifetime at the Porsche Experience Centre. Daniel Fountain reports from this awe-inspiring event

“michael mcgrath’s aim, with the help of numerous volunteers, donors and ambassadors, is to fulfil the dreams of children and young people living with muscular dystrophy.”

time MHF beneficiaries got a chance to be driven around the Silverstone track in some of Porsche’s most popular models, perform donuts and feel the rush of drifting thanks to the expert team of drivers at the experience centre. The joy on the faces of the beneficiaries afterwards was the perfect testimonial, and eight more dreams had been fulfilled. What hits home most is the personalised experience that Michael and his team of volunteers offer the families. Their infectious enthusiasm and Michael’s constant requests for the MHF ‘Muscle Salute’ builds a sense of community from the off; everyone involved becomes what Michael calls a ‘Muscle Warrior’. At PA Life, we salute the fantastic work of Michael and the Muscle Help Foundation – here’s to the ‘power of 657’. To find out more about the Muscle Help Foundation’s work or to donate, visit


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CHRISTMAS PARTIES WITH A TWIST Bringing People Together Through Food It’s never too early to talk about CHRISTMAS!! Venturi’s Table Cookery School can help you put together the perfect Christmas Party for your team. As well as our delicious Christmas menus, we offer a wide range of group cookery classes including Middle Eastern, Thai, Italian and Masterchef Mystery Box Challenges. These menus are often paired with Cocktail Challenges or Wine Tasting. Our two beautiful kitchens can accommodate group numbers from 7-70 for fun, hands-on cookery, and at the end of the cooking everyone sits down around the kitchen island together

to enjoy the tasty food they have made. We are always flexible to fit with your needs. Different levels of culinary skills are accounted for, with seasoned cooks exposed to trade secrets and beginners able to get stuck in. Menus are designed for each group allowing for food sensitivities and a competitive edge can

be added for adrenalin-driven teams. Venturi’s Table has worked with some of the top names in international business for over 12 years and our Christmas Parties offer a tried and tested way for professionals to strengthen their working relationships. We are repeatedly told by our clients that the experience of

cooking and sharing food together really can help create opportunities to boost morale, improve communication and foster better relationships within teams. Think of it not as a strict cookery class, rather as a fun time away from the office where you can be creative in the kitchen with a glass of wine in hand, without the tedious menu planning, shopping and washing up! At just a 13-minute train journey from Waterloo, and a 2-minute walk from Wandsworth Town, we are easily accessible from all parts of London. Our kitchens can also be hired as creative meeting spaces ahead of our classes.

For a bespoke Christmas quotation, please contact Bella, Sales Director, on 020 8875 7488, or visit


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health & wellness

Time to beat stress Here, holistic self-care and wellbeing coach Tara Jackson (herself an ex-PA) outlines her top tips for taking some much-needed ‘me time’ to prioritise your wellness Doing small things regularly that you enjoy will make the biggest change overall – especially as they are do-able and can fit into your life without too much extra effort.

Do you find your weeks merging into one another as your time is spent being at work, commuting, fitting in family and friends and all their needs and wants, having to go to the supermarket, preparing and cooking meals, catching up on social media or news, and then the little time that is left is used to unwind, usually in front of the TV? As a PA, you are the master at being on top of someone else’s diary – but when it comes to your own it can be so easy to leave yourself to the bottom of the list. Sometimes you just need a little reminder and motivation to make some more (guilt-free) time for you and use it in the best way possible. If you’ve been neglecting yourself recently, here are a few tips to help you get back on top of prioritising you.

Get clear on your ‘why’ If you find it easy to put yourself at the bottom of your list, you need to get really clear on your ‘why’. Why do you need to start prioritising yourself? Perhaps your health or relationships are suffering? Having a strong enough reason to encourage you to want to make change will help to keep you on track when and if you find yourself falling into old habits. Schedule it in your diary Have a look at your own diary and schedule in time for you weekly, if not daily. This way it’s in there as a priority so if something else comes up it’s less likely to get moved to the bottom of the list.

Self-care isn’t selfish Here’s your little reminder that you need to give to yourself first before you can give to anyone else. If you are feeling depleted and spread too thin, you’ll find yourself giving to others from a place of exhaustion and possibly resentment. Fill yourself up with what energises and nourishes you first so you can be the best you can be, and can give more to others.

If you need some more inspiration and tips to help you take moments out for you every day, Tara is running a free 30-day seasonal self-care challenge, which starts on 1 September. It includes a daily self-care tip, inspiration, or action straight to your inbox throughout the month so you can find out what works for you and include more in your life. You can sign up at

Self-care doesn’t have to take loads of time or be expensive Think about what you love that recharges you. Is it some down time reading, a hot bubble bath, a movie, or a walk in nature?


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Seema Kavi, Director of Quivira Capital outlines the vital role many PAs play in their company’s recruitment process Making the decision Another important factor to consider is that some applicants are unaware of the level of trust that exists between PAs and directors. I have cancelled an interview with a previously shortlisted candidate because of the way my PA was spoken to by this individual. How a potential recruit treats members of staff at any level is a very useful insight into their character and whether they will fit into a company’s culture, with the PA acting as a sounding board for the directors if they are sitting on the fence. With that said, however, it is a two-way street, as the PA is the first impression a candidate gets of a company, so it is important to ensure that they are professional and fully briefed on what the role is.

Finding the perfect new hire for a fast-growing team can be challenging, and with business leaders battling full diaries, they are placing even more dependence on their PAs. A 2013 survey revealed that 16 per cent of bosses take their recommendations on business decisions from their PAs, with another 17 per cent revealing that they stand in for the manager at meetings monthly. Most of the time bosses will not have enough time in the day to finish all the tasks on their list, let alone help other members of staff with theirs. As a result, it often falls to the PA to be the one who kickstarts the process of looking for a new team member. So how can they get involved? Writing a job description The first port of call in any recruitment process is writing the job description, and if you’re not careful the phrasing of a description can deter a good applicant. A great way for a PA to be involved is by assisting with the drafting of the description and sharing it across the relevant platforms. A key aspect of any job advert is showing your company’s voice and it is an opportunity to speak directly to the person you hope to hire – there’s no-one better to do so than a PA.

Teaching the recruit Once you have settled on a candidate, it often falls to the PA to show them the ropes. Assistants are the heart and soul of the office and should have their fingers on the pulse, putting them in the perfect position to show the new team member around. More often than not, a PA is the member of staff new recruits find most approachable to answer questions or voice concerns they may not be comfortable speaking to a director about. The PA needs to be the one who implicitly teaches the new recruit the ways and means of the director’s habits and likings. For example, whether the boss prefers to be contacted by phone or by email, or when the best time of day is to pop into their office, etc. A PA’s role within the recruitment process should not be overlooked. From drafting the initial job description to welcoming the new recruit into the office, PAs and executive assistants are vital to the hiring process.

Organising schedules After the initial stage of sifting through CVs and deciding which candidates to bring through to the interview round, it falls to the PA to get in contact with those individuals. The first impression a potential recruit gets of your company is the first person they speak to, which is often the director’s PA. It is so important to have the right person in that role, as they need to be warm and welcoming, but also professional and competent.


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C EL EB R AT E AT S TA M F O R D B R I D G E T H I S C H R I S T M A S Enjoy one of our festive party packages, at the most wonderful time of the year...



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PA Life July/August 2017  

PA Life Issue 39 July/August 2017

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