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THE COUNTDOWN... Christmas really is just around the corner for PAs and EAs. We’re here the help!

PA PROFILE Stuart Martin, Executive Assistant at music tech giant Spotify

WELLNESS AT WORK A new series looking at how to keep yourself and staff - healthy

GIFTS GALORE Top tips from Molton Brown & more on festive corporate treats

PLUS… A guide to Christmas party venues and entertainment, as well as advice from the experts

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WELCOME... We may have had an unseasonably warm September, but there’s no denying that Christmas really is on its way. We’re yet to see an influx of toy and perfume ads on TV, but Ocado has announced when its Christmas delivery slots open (October 18th, FYI - get in early is my top advice), and it won’t be long before John Lewis is tugging at our heart strings with its latest campaign. For many PAs and EAs across the UK, Christmas planning has been in full swing for some time – but there will no doubt be some loose ends that need tying up. And that’s where this issue’s guide comes into its own. From page 22 to page 40 we have a selection of ideas for corporate and staff gifts, party venues, entertainment, accommodation and more. You can thank us later (any of the hampers we’ve featured will be more than acceptable...). Meanwhile, give yourself a gift this busy period - the gift of wellness. We’re all too aware of long hours being worked, stress levels spiralling and the problems raised by today’s ‘always on’ society. To address this, we kick off a new column this month which is devoted entirely to wellness and wellbeing. Turn to page 8 to read worthy advice from Tula Wellness’s Amy Gallagher. And Amy will also be speaking at the new PA Life Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing Summit, which will take place during the PA Show at ExCeL London on February 25th

“We’re aware of long hours being worked and stress levels spiralling. To address this we’ve launched a new wellbeing column.” and 26th 2020. We’ll be announcing more information, plus details on tickets, so keep your eyes peeled to Or to register your interest right now, email If you feel your office environment is bringing you down, turn to page 18 where Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, discusses how to spot the signs of a toxic workplace. And if physical pain - including back ache and RSI - is a concern,’s Diane Cootes offers advice on how to ensure you’re not at risk of posture-related injuries when working from home. Elsewhere, our PA Profile spotlights Stuart Martin, EA at music tech giant Spotify. He discusses being a male in a world dominated by women, plus Spotify’s commitment to wellbeing in the workplace. And if you’re looking to increase your productivity - without putting in extra hours Stuart O’Brien takes a look at some of the best apps and desktop tools available to aid your workflow processes. Meanwhile, if you’re on the hunt for new venues for business lunches, dinners and overnight accommodation – or for a bit of R&R for yourself – we take a look at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel in Hertfordshire, The Randolph Hotel in Oxfordshire and the awesome pizzeria mini-chain Radio Alice. Enjoy! Lisa Carter, Associate Editor



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Wellness Are you running on empty? Working too many hours and not giving enough care to yourself? PA Life kicks off a new regular column designed to help.


PA Profile Stuart Martin has been a male EA for over a decade. He talks to us about his experiences of being a man in the business, his role at Spotify - and his employer’s commitment to staff health and wellbeing.



Boost Your Productivity Make sure you work smarter, not harder. We highlight some of the best apps and software to help you to smash that To Do list, increase productivity and generally make your job a little easier.


How Many Sleeps...? We know you’re in overdrive now, preparing for Christmas. We’re here to help with no fewer than 17 pages of ideas for gifts, venues and more to get you to the festive season without the stress.


Restaurant Review Tewin Bury Farm Hotel is just up the A1 in Hertfordshire. Find out why it’s worth a visit.


Radio Alice Good food and laid-back dining. What’s not to like? Find out why these pizzerias are great for business lunches and after-work fun!


Best Tech Secrets What PAs think about AI and more – exclusive Hays research.



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Do you feel you need to make time for more self care? Tweet us @PALifeMag

HOW TO BE A HAPPY, HEALTHY When we think of self-care, it’s easy to relate it to regular exercise, a balanced diet and taking time out for our favourite, relaxing pastime. Doing all or some of these is fantastic but our self-care involves a whole lot more. Amy Gallagher from Tula Wellness kicks off a new series covering Wellness in Workplace


SO, WHAT IS SELFCARE? We read a lot about self-care these days and it can be defined in many ways. My favourite definition is: ‘Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you’. So many of us walk around with our inner wells half full or even empty. We put others first, we work too many hours, we don’t take enough time to nourish our bodies, to calm the mind. We clock up countless hours scouring social media, comparing ourselves to the ‘perfect’ world of others. We eat too much, drink too much, think too much, spend too much. How often is our inner well full and overflowing with an abundance of energy?

SELF-CARE IS NOT… • adding more to your to-do list so you become even more stressed or anxious about all the things you need to achieve • a quick fix or emergency fix to feeling out of control, overwhelmed, exhausted, unwell or anxious • being selfish – our cup needs to be full so we can offer the best version of ourselves to everyone around us THE CIRCLE OF SELF-CARE Above right is the Circle of Self-Care. It shows all the different aspects of our inner and outer worlds that we need to nourish and look after in order to feel balanced, healthy and happy. Look at each segment and ask yourself if this is an area - you frequently look after - sometimes look after - isn’t even on your radar


AND BALANCED PA Don’t be alarmed if there’s a lot that you feel you are neglecting. Sometimes we just require a small change to our routine to make us feel more balanced. For example – you could improve your physical self-care by going to bed an hour earlier every night rather than watching another Netflix show. Sleep is a

hour to have a gratitude diary and write down a list of 10 things you are grateful for in your life – it creates a beautiful energy to start your day with rather than comparing yourself to a photoshopped celeb on Instagram. Remember that it all begins with us – when we make ourselves and our

My favourite definition of self-care is: ‘Giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you’. So many of us walk around with our inner wells half full or even empty, putting others first and working long hours.

massive contributor to our wellbeing, mood and healing. Or you could decide that you will not look at social media as soon as you wake up. Instead you could use that half an

wellbeing a priority, we have more fulfilling relationships, a happier and positive outlook on life, a good work/life balance and we are a whole lot more effective in the workplace.

JOIN US AT THE WORKPLACE WELLNESS & WELLBEING SUMMIT Amy Gallagher will be speaking at the Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing Summit – a new event hosted by PA Life, in partnership with the PA Show. PA Life will be holding a series of exclusive seminar sessions during the two days of the PA Show – which takes place on February 25th & 26th 2020 at ExCel, London. To find out more about the Summit and to get regular updates on speaker sessions and more, email editorial@



Stuart Martin Currently EA at Spotify, Stuart Martin began his career some 17 years ago when very few males were given PA or EA roles. He talks to PA Life about breaking down industry perceptions, challenging bosses and achieving the work/life balance thanks to his employer’s focus on staff wellbeing Photography: Dave Willis




How did you become an Assistant? I worked through the summer of 2011 at a really cool digital marketing agency in Brighton called Spannerworks, with the view that I would then go on to university to study computing. The agency were looking for a front-of-house/receptionist at the time and I went for the interview. They were very honest and said that it was pretty unusual for a boy to apply for the role. However I was fortunate enough to get the job! It was only a couple of years later that the HR Manager told me that they were looking for a boy all along for the role as they were keen to break down the stereotype surrounding the front-of-house/receptionist role. That was 12 years ago, so having a 17 year-old male receptionist was, at the time, very different. About a year into the role the CEO asked me how I would feel about looking after two of his Directors. I agreed and initially looked after diary management for both Directors, while also adapting to the different styles of both - one was very intense and wanted everything booked yesterday, while the other was very laid back. Spannerworks was acquired by an American marketing agency called iCrossing and the CEO suggested that I don’t go to university and instead ‘stay on the journey’ with them instead. So that’s exactly what I did. I stayed there for four years, during which time my role evolved to take on the PA requirements of the CEO along with office management. I realised that to further my career I would need to move to London - which I did - and worked for a number of companies including a PR agency, L’Oreal, and a number of advertising and marketing agencies. The common theme was that many of the people I looked after were very high-profile, quite intimidating characters, which gave me more confidence to approach bigger brands.

How did you start your career at Spotify? I was working at the digital agency Dare when it was acquired by in-house specialist agency Oliver UK. I was given the amazing opportunity to become PA to their new UK CEO, Sharon Whale. She was inspiring – one of the most incredible women I’ve had the pleasure to work with – and gave me so many opportunities to grow and think about my career path. My role at this point was PA to the CEO, handling office management, organising a travel management platform, health and safety, events, managing the front-of-house team etc… It was a really varied role. After four happy years at Oliver, Spotify approached me through LinkedIn and asked if I’d be interested in a position that they were advertising. I was at the point in my career where I was up for the challenge and the move to Spotify, even though I knew I would miss my current boss terribly. Looking back, I’m really happy I made the change. What’s working at Spotify like? Spotify absolutely encourages agile working, with a transparent, honest work ethic that expects you to fulfil your workload around a positive work/life balance. As a Swedish company there are very strong family values. I’ve been very fortunate that, from day one, the company knew that I lived in Brighton and commuted to London for work. My boss doesn’t expect me in the office every day, and as he starts at 10am I can commute in at a later time which makes my journey in much more bearable! All the offices globally provide breakfast and lunch for staff, along with ‘grab and go’ areas stocked with fruit, etc, with the actual design of the office based around a comfortable working environment that offers effective collaboration between teams. Plus, working for a music company has added benefits such as free tickets to live music events.

What are you most proud of in your career to date? I went into a particular role where the CEO went through 12 PAs in just 18 months. She was viewed as this ‘impossible’ boss figure, and I was hired because the company thought that, with my experience and attitude, I could perhaps find a different way of working with her. More often than not, what you find with someone who’s viewed as having a difficult personality is that they’re not actually ‘difficult’; they’re just not communicating what they want effectively. It’s about finding the root cause of the problem and solving it, so that the person then views you as ‘the problem solver’. I eventually became this particular person’s ‘go to,’ and organised everything for her - doctors, nutritionists, personal holidays, house moves, etc. Most people would see this as an impossible role, but I embraced it as a challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, the travel management company roll-out at Oliver and subsidiary companies gave me a real sense of achievement. Usually this would be given to a procurement company to complete, but my boss knew I had enough experience to take on the responsibility, interview the various companies, look at the options on offer and choose the right one, based on the millions of pounds that we spent on travel in a year. How does your relationship with your current boss work? He’s very different from all my other bosses as he’s very self-sufficient. For example, it’s taken him a long time to feel comfortable with me getting his lunch, which has been an expectation with previous bosses! Also, the Spotify work ethic encourages employees to make their own decisions and do their own thing, so for him to ask me to do certain jobs for him was at loggerheads with the company ethos. That said, I now book his travel, which I love doing, quite often to short briefs here, here and here”.

My advice for aspiring PAs? Identify your strengths. Try and focus on being great in certain areas. Nobody expects you to be amazing at everything – that’s impossible.



He’s fantastic, he’s a real thinker, so a lot of the time he’ll be in the office with headphones on messaging me. He’s also aware that my previous bosses needed a bit more ‘TLC’ than he does, so he recently asked if I would like to take on more of an operational role within the department as well as being his PA. This means I’m now planning and organising events and getting involved with things I wouldn’t normally do, such as the construction of our new user research labs in London and New York, assisting with ‘lunch and learns’ and community socials, plus working with other heads of departments.

achieved the things I’ve done through experience rather than the University route. Any challenges in your career that stand out? During my time at L’Oreal I looked after the General Manager of L’Oreal Luxury. She set me the most impossible task, but I somehow managed to pull it off… She was a tough cookie and notorious for losing her phone. All the time. This particular time she was in Paris at L’Oreal HQ and I got a call from her saying: “Stuart, I’ve left my phone in a taxi and I’m about to get the Eurostar back to London. When I get back to my house I expect a phone to be there fully synced with my emails.” I had approximately three hours. I came off the call and thought ‘how am I going to do this?’. I went to L’Oreal’s IT department in Hammersmith, explained the situation and they laughed at me! Anyway, I managed to reach out to the right people within IT and pull in enough favours so that I was able to get a new phone synced with the correct data and to her house about 15 minutes before she arrived. To this day I’m still not sure how I did it!

7KH LQGXVWU\ LV GHÀQLWHO\ changing, but not fast enough. Over the years I’ve interviewed at lots of companies and come away knowing I wasn’t hired because I’m male.

Does more need to change so that men can be recognised as PAs? The industry is changing, but I personally don’t feel that it’s changing fast enough. There are some very forward-thinking companies that are fantastic at being gender neutral when it comes to recruitment selection. However, you do find smaller companies are quite stereotypical with heir recruitment policies, even if they say they aren’t. Over the years I’ve interviewed at lots of companies and I’ve come away from them knowing I wasn’t hired because I was male. There also needs to be more understanding of what a PA role consists of - a good PA navigates all the problems you have through your day or week, or month. Any memorable moments in your career? I’ve won a couple of awards, including the 2014 SECS in the City PA of the Year and the 2018 Miss Jones EA of the Year, both being the first time a male has been giving the accolades. It’s a great feeling to be recognised and rewarded for the work that I’ve done. From a personal perspective, I can also look at my career and know that I’ve


Any advice for expiring assistants? Identify your strengths. Try and focus on being great at certain things. Nobody expects you to be amazing at everything, that’s an impossible expectation. And what’s next? Still being an EA! I love Spotify, I work with talented and passionate individuals who genuinely believe they’re making the music industry a better place for the user and artist. Our CEO Daniel gives us the belief that we’re all part of something special, which I love.

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How to create festive cheer to last the year Nigel Arnett, ‘The Butler Service’ Concierge Manager at Cartwright & Butler, offers some advice on corporate gifting

With Christmas just around the corner, companies of all sizes are beginning to consider their plans for the season. With 95 per cent of businesses choosing to invest in corporate gifting, it’s without doubt a vital part of relationship building, enhancing not only a company’s connections with clients, but also with their staff. Selecting gifts can be taxing, but getting it right doesn’t need to be as hard as you think.

businesses spend less on staff gifts compared to client gifts. 57 per cent of companies spend up to £150 on a client gift, while 43 per cent spend under £50 per member of staff. Impress with personalisation Latest stats show 95 per cent of staff are impressed when a gift is personalised. And personalisation doesn’t have to cost too much time, effort, or budget. Many corporate gifting companies can leave a space within cards or gift tags for individual

Opt for quality over quantity 95% of businesses choose to Our research shows that invest in corporate gifting. It is a quality is the most important factor when it vital part of relationship building. comes to gifts, followed Nigel Arnett, Cartwright & Butler closely by price and personalisation. line managers to add their own note, which When it comes to showing gratitude to will help to give the gift a personal touch. your workforce or to clients, it’s important to strike the right balance. For example, while Food for thought workers enjoy a luxurious gift, there is a fine When looking for a gift that sits within your line between a thank you present, and what budget, has a touch of luxury, and allows could be seen as an empty financial gesture. room for personalisation – food and beverage products are an ideal choice. Our The all-year-round gifting budget research shows that food and drink gift Companies are advised to allocate a hampers were the most sought after gift, corporate gifting budget that doesn’t just with almost half (49 per cent) of workers include a pot for Christmas.. According to hoping to receive food and drink items. our research, during the festive period



Have you suffered from back pain and RSI? Tweet us @PALifeMag

While the number of home workers surges, so does the number of people suffering with posture-based injuries. Diane Cootes,

How to avoid back pain at work The increase in posturerelated injuries has coincided with the rise in remote working.’s home and interiors expert Diane Cootes shares her tips on how to set up your home office to avoid back pain and RSI

According to a recent TUC study, there are 373,000 more employees working from home than 10 years ago – a 27 per cent increase. While the number of home workers surges, so does the number of people suffering with posture-based injuries. An increase in those working remotely and on-the-go means that their places of work are not designed for long periods of laptop-based work. However, there are things that can be done to improve your on-the-go and home office environment. It’s all in the angles Posture is the key to avoiding long-term pack and neck pain. Wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms – don’t rest your wrists at an upward height. Your head should be level and facing forward –, not off to one side – with your eyes looking slightly downward, at a point between the middle and top of your monitor. Shoulders should be relaxed, not hunched up, with your upper arms hanging naturally at your sides. Make a drink and move Getting absorbed in work is easy to do, and not moving until you meet a deadline is

common. But taking regular breaks and standing up is a great way to improve your posture and reduce the chance of injury. Lights please! The correct lighting is vital to keeping your eyes in top shape and avoiding migraines. Getting the right balance is essential, with desk lighting being preferable to ceiling fixtures to avoid reflections on your screen. Improvise with accessories Use a cushion to raise your sitting position or create a make shift footrest using an empty box. Your knees should be slightly below your hip level, and feet flat on the floor or a footrest. Flexible layout Often our bodies don’t respond well to fixed positions, so investing in a home office that can switch around could help those aches and pains. Remote working is here to stay, with 89 per cent of employees considering it to be a key motivator to their productivity, therefore it’s important to make sure you don’t injure yourself in the process. If you are currently working from home or plan to in the future, incorporate these hacks into your home and avoid the doctor’s surgery.



When staff are unhappy, they vote with their feet. If you’re seeing turnover spike either in a specific team or across the company, it’s time to act.

How to recognise the signs of a toxic workplace The right company culture can make a huge difference to a business. Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, highlights what you need to avoid


The right culture can help organisations hire and retain top talent, grow and be more productive. But the wrong culture can have a negative impact on everything. Here are some key red flags to watch out for that may indicate you have a toxic culture: 1. The alpha office Do one or two big personalities seem to dominate every conversation in your office? When only a few people feel empowered to speak up, it’s a sign that the business isn’t particularly democratic and you may have a toxic culture. 2. Under performance When someone isn’t meeting their objectives, it’s easy to blame the individual, but often poor performance may be more about a lack of engagement. It’s worth scratching below the surface when performance slips to look at the root cause. 3. Micro management Successful companies hire good people then empower them to get the job done. When senior staff feel the need to get involved in

day-to-day operations or micromanage, it’s a sign that something is broken. 4. Authenticity Talking about changes or culture is easy, but putting them in to practice is hard. When a company says all the right things but doesn’t act on them, employees will pick up on this and become disengaged. 5. Negativity Though it’s normal for everyone to get frustrated every now and again, an office where complaining is more common than celebrating is a big red flag. 6. Leavism To perform at our best, we all need time to recharge. A common sign of a toxic environment is when the work-home balance isn’t respected and employees are expected to work overtime or during holidays. 7. High turnover Ultimately, when staff are unhappy, they vote with their feet. If you’re seeing turnover spike either in a specific team or across the company, it’s time to capture learnings from those leaving, and encourage senior leaders to engage with employees to take a close look at the company culture.

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Five apps to increased productivity Have you ever sat down at your desk, switched on your computer, opened your emails and then stared blankly at the screen not knowing what to do next? Yep, we’ve all been there. And in our increasingly ‘always on’ working world, the volume of distractions can be overwhelming. But there is help out there - technology is most definitely our friend. So, we’ve put our collective heads together to come up with five essential apps, across mobile and desktop, that will help you cut out the noise, stay organised and get stuff done…


GET FOCUSSED WITH A POMODORO TIMER We have a very smart Italian called Francesco Cirillo to thank for bestowing us with the pomodoro (tomato) technique for staying focussed on a task. He realised (using a tomato-shaped egg timer – geddit?) that humans are most productive in 25-minute bursts, with a five-minute break after each. The technique requires absolute focus to work properly, so you need to be disciplined enough to turn off all

notifications (that’s a topic in itself for another day), resist the urge to check emails and ignore social media for the duration of each ‘pomodoro’ period. Luckily, there are a few pomodoro tools available that help you track the session – we use a free app called BeFocused (available for iPhone and Android), but there are also web-based pomodoros like that have great functionality (albeit for a premium).


GET IT DOWN WITH EVERNOTE There are literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of note-taking and organisational apps out there, but we’re yet to use one with as much functionality as Evernote. It’s been around for a long time, so feels fully featured and robust. But most importantly it works and syncs seamlessly across desktop, tablet and mobile. This means wherever you are (online or offline) you can make a note about something (or generate a to do

GET ON TOP OF EMAIL WITH GMAIL FOR MOBILE immediately. You don’t actually need to Okay, full disclosure. Your choice of have a Gmail account for it to work email client (desktop or mobile) can be (though if you do it will be an optimised a very personal and subjective decision. experienced) and it will change your life. It can also be made for you by your The set-up is very straightforward, the company’s IT team. But, if you’re in user interface is tidy and uncluttered, it’s control of your email destiny, we strongly recommend that you download quick, works offline and allows you to switch between multiple email accounts and install Google’s Gmail mobile app

list, or draw a picture, or add a photo), knowing it’s going to be there waiting when you get into the office. It’s also collaborative, so you can share notes with colleagues. The basic version is free and we think that’ll be enough for most. But if you do need extra functionality (more storage, unlimited devices, Office support, etc) you can go premium for £4.99 a month. Honourable mentions must also go to Microsoft’s OneNote and Zoho.

quickly and easily. And while we’re at it, we would strongly recommend using Google’s Calendar app too. It will literally make you enjoy booking meetings and trips, with lovely day/ month/week views and the ability to reach into your email to put stuff in your calendar without you even knowing.

MAKE WONDERFUL LISTS WITH WUNDERLIST Depending on your preferences, you Who doesn’t like a list? Whether you can set up both desktop and email make them using pen and paper, or notifications for when you’ve been have a more hi-tech approach, a good assigned a task and when it’s been list is key to knowing what you need to do and when. We’ve tried dozens of listy completed. Wunderlist works great as a one-person tool, but really comes into solutions over the years, but the one we its own when used with teams – no-one always come back to and continue to can ever say they didn’t know about a use is Wunderlist. It works on the web or as an app across desktop and mobile, job when you can point back to Wunderlist. And the best thing about and enables you to create multiple To Wunderlist? Ticking off all the Do lists, share them with teams and completed tasks as you go. assign tasks to specific people.

START SLACKING IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU If you polled an office full of people and asked what their biggest work-based distraction is, most would probably say emails. Endless streams of emails. Sometimes emails that just say ‘thanks’. (Doing that should be banned immediately, by the way.) But there is another way of communicating with internal and external teams that can put a lot of those conversations in an IM-style chat interface that can be organised and sorted by topic. It’s called Slack, and while it emerged out of the worlds of games and software development, it’s being increasingly

adopted by ‘regular’ businesses looking to get their teams organised. As with most solutions of this type, there are both free and premium account options – we’d recommend you try it for free before diving in headfirst as it might be something that doesn’t suit your organisation (plus your IT team will likely have a view if you already use an IM-style chat tool). But if you do like it, your inbox will be a lot quieter.



Gift Wrapped Christmas is coming and that can only mean one thing - the PA Life guide to everything you need for your corporate gifting and staff parties...



MOLTON BROWN Molton Brown, London’s fragrance experts since 1971, are renowned for their exceptional Made in England scents; with the festive season approaching, celebrate and reward your valued clients and colleagues with their corporate gifting service. Meet the new Festive Limited Edition, Bizarre Brandy. A debonair, heady infusion of aged brandy, caramelised maple, warm, rich cedarwood and smoky incense, it’s inspired by the scandalous 1920s cocktail parties of the ‘Bright Young Things’. Available to purchase now, spread Yuletide splendour with a fragrance full of illicit pleasure. As this year’s ultimate Christmas destination, Molton Brown boast a showstopping gift collection featuring their signature Fragrances, curated gift sets and the Advent Calendar, with tantalising treats to discover behind each door, not to mention their iconic scent-filled baubles. All elegantly presented in Roaring Twenties Art Deco boxes for a darkly glamorous aesthetic. Gift cards are also available as the perfect ‘gift of choice’ and you can host your own celebration with Molton Brown who tailor private events to suit your company’s needs. Call the Corporate Sales team on +44 (0)203 540 1250, email or visit your preferred store to begin your gifting journey.


CHRISTMAS PARTY AT THE WILLIAMS CONFERENCE CENTRE Yo our evening will commen nce with a Drinks Reception in the e Williams Grand d Prix Collecction, housiing over 40 0 origiinal racing cars, then n moving g throug gh to o our Ayrton n Senn na Driivers Suite e, where e you ur party will ta ake placce witth excllusive e use of the Alan Jones Bar.

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£90pp + VAT based on a minimum of 80



>>> WILLIAMS CONFERENCE CENTRE Based at the home of ROKiT Williams Racing, The Williams Conference Centre is set in rural Oxfordshire and offers a unique setting for functions, events and team away days. With 10 multi-purpose event rooms catering up to 350 guests, the venue offers full support in planning and execution with in-house AV facilities, event managers and five-star catering and service. During your day, experience a wide range of Formula 1-themed activities that can be used for team building and hospitality days, including simulators, pit-stop challenge, supersized Scalextric, BATAK and access to the Williams Museum with over 40 iconic racing cars.



CHERITH HARRISON With Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of presents to put under the tree. Whether you are buying for your boss, clients or staff, Cherith Harrison has a lovely selection of products. Based in Leith, Edinburgh all products are made in the UK and feature Cherith’s original hand-illustrations of iconic wildlife. There are loads of festive products available including the Festive Robin collection. For a 15% discount exclusive to PA Life please enter XMAS15,

ASCOT RACECOURSE Beyond its legendary raceday Fine Dining hospitality, Ascot Racecourse also works with businesses and private clients to create successful and memorable non-raceday events, all delivered with Ascot’s sense of occasion and exemplary service. As autumn arrives, an impressive array of restaurants and private boxes come into their own, providing a myriad of options for every occasion, from exclusive private dining to black tie banquets, and culminating in superb Christmas Parties to round off the year. Other events on offer include Business Meetings, Company Away Days & Team Building, Product Launches, Conferences and Exhibitions. Contact the Conferences & Events team on 0344 346 3611 or email

Picture from 8 Northumberland Avenue

Tasked with planning your Christmas Celebrations this year?

Arbras Gallery specialises in providing exquisite silver gifts for all occasions. We serve businesses across all sectors offering a product range to fit any budget and we can tailor your order to include features such as personalised engravings and gift wrapping.

From venue sourcing to full event management services we’ll create the perfect party that you and your guests will love.

For any event that requires premium quality competitively priced gifts, we will ensure you are left delighted with your purchase.

Picture from London Edition T: 020 7229 6772

Call: 0207 993 8481 Or email:







EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS a gift wrapped in gratitude

At Rituals, we believe it’s important to give your colleagues special attention now and then. A sign of appreciation makes everybody more aware of the beautiful things in life and strengthens the connection to your organization. Discover our luxury assortment of gift sets, available in four different sizes, from £20.50 (RRP).* Beautifully wrapped and ready to give in a luxury keepsake box, our gift sets are the ideal present for any occasion. Make a choice between extensive and unique collections filled with luxurious products. Everything from body and face care products to scented candles and other products for the home. It is a small gesture that is certain to make your colleagues very happy.

To learn more about gift options please send an email to quoting ‘PA Life’ to receive a special offer.

*Prices vary depending on order quantity.



>>> EMIRATES OLD TRAFFORD Emirates Old Trafford is an award-winning venue, at the home of Lancashire Cricket. Catering for smaller meetings of ten, right through to larger conferences, exhibitions and events of 1,200 delegates, it has a range of intelligent event spaces to suit your needs. Need event support? The expert in-house events team will manage all of the finer details to ensure that your next conference, meeting or event is a success. Organising accommodation? The on-site four-star Hilton Garden Inn boasts 150 bedrooms, as well as the Garden Grille restaurant and bar, a resident’s gym, business centre and Caffè Nero. Situated just three miles from the city centre, Emirates Old Trafford boasts excellent transport links for regional, national and international visitors. Just a 20-minute drive from Manchester Airport, the venue has over 600 free parking spaces, and is easily accessible by public transport, with a Metrolink stop directly behind the stadium.


GIFTROUND GiftRound is a new online service that is changing the way people collect money for gifts. It provides a quick, hassle-free and secure way to collect money for gifts in the workplace and with friends and family. GiftRound customers can easily create a collection, invite people to contribute and purchase a gift. In an increasingly cashless society with teams spread over different locations, working from home or overseas, the traditional card and envelope just doesn’t work. Right from its inception, GiftRound has been designed with a focus on three key areas: 1) Making group collections for gifts hassle-free 2) Making collections more secure and inclusive 3) Providing customers with a range of quality gifts and experiences The overarching aim is to bring a little fun and magic back to all the people involved in the process of gift-giving. If you are fed up with chasing the envelope and being left either out of pocket or with all that loose change then why not make your next collection a GiftRound collection. www. giftround.

SWELL BOTTLES S’well makes fashionable hydration accessories that look great and do good. Since its inception in 2010, Founder and CEO Sarah Kauss has made it her mission to rid the world of plastic bottles by creating covetable hydration accessories that are as stylish as they are hard-working, and that give back to communities in need. S’well can create beautiful co-branded bottles for your business to give as gifts, event marketing merchandise or memorable travel souvenirs.




>>> MONTEZUMAS Founded nearly 20 years ago from a small, artisan shop in Brighton, Montezumas is a quintessentially British maker of extraordinary chocolate truffles, bars, caramels and considerably more. Its seasonal corporate gift offering includes a range of highly desirable hampers filled with the company’s best selling products, and unique, personalised Christmas treats which can be customised with bespoke messages of festive cheer. Many of Montezumas’ favourite, mouth-watering chocolates are hand finished and beautifully packaged to create the perfect impression of the highest quality, ethically sourced chocolate made with love, by the seaside, in West Sussex.


DUNKELD HOUSE HOTEL Nestled into the beautiful Perthshire landscape, Dunkeld House Hotel boasts an unrivalled experience of Scottish country living. This four-star luxury country house hotel sits on 280 acres of stunning Perthshire countryside and overlooks the fast-flowing River Tay. Rooms and suites range from traditional to contemporary designs, offering a haven for luxurious comfort. Sample the wide selection of malt whiskies and craft gins at the Ghillies bar, or indulge in a Hebridean seaweed-based treatment at the spa. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the woodland estate and riverside nature trails or try their hand at wild salmon fishing, clay pigeon shooting, archery, quad biking, or a 4×4 Landrover Experience.

TRAVELODGE If you’re organising a Festive do and need a hotel for the party goers to stay in, give Travelodge’s Group bookings team a call on 0871 984 6575, they’ll get you the best, bespoke rate with flexible payment methods and no booking fees. What’s more if you Quote CRACKER when you call, you’ll get a free room for every 20 rooms booked on stays up until 23/12/19 With over 560 hotels across the UK, Travelodge is the perfect choice for your festive hotel requirements. To find out more visit https://www. about/groupbookings/ or call 0871 984 6575. Don’t forget to quote CRACKER!


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at DUNKE ELD HOU USE HOTE EL 2019 3 Night Christmas Experience From £412.50 per person arriving on Christmas Eve

3 Night Scottish Hogmanay Break From £592.50 per person arriving on 30th December

3 Course Christmas Lunch £19.95 per person 1st to 23rd December

Christmas Party Nights Overnight and evening packages available in December

Christmas Gift Vouchers Available

01350 727771

FEST T IVE CORPOR R ATE SE E RVICES Let us cap ptivate your valued clients, colleaag ues and contaccts with exxquisite festive gifts from our corp porate selection n. Recognise yourr team durr ing this season with h our reward sccheme. Give f ragranced indulgences to enrr ich their w inter rituals or to add Christmaa s spirit at hom me – luxuriou us momentt s that continue to motivate and reward. Wee also tailor private events to suit your comp pa ny’s needs. From a celebratoory atmosp phere to scented mementos, we’ll a rrange all yo ou need for a decadent experience this season. Contact ourr corporatee sales team, who w ill be delighteed to help you choose your tailored comp pany package. Phone: +44 (0) 20 0 3540 1250 Em mail: corporate@mo om



>>> TWICKENHAM Make this year’s Christmas party unforgettable by celebrating at Twickenham Stadium, the Home of England Rugby. To get you in the Christmas spirit you can enjoy one of several Christmas party packages which have been carefully curated by Twickenham’s expert team. An intimate Dickensian experience in the hidden Twickenham Cellar offers fine wines, stunning décor and a mouth-watering Christmas dinner carved at your table, whereas a more informal option in Twickenham’s very own pub, the Union Ale House, comes complete with a finger buffet and a late night DJ. If it’s a larger party you’re after, you can opt for The Lock which includes a three-course seated dinner, entertainment, DJ and more. What’s more, Twickenham benefits from an onsite 4* Marriott Hote,l so you can party the night away and still enjoy a convenient night’s sleep. For smaller groups, shared party options are also available which can be booked online at

SPICERS OF HYTHE Kent-based luxury hamper specialist Spicers of Hythe has been busy hand-crafting indulgent festive hampers, gift boxes and advent calendars to suit all budgets this Christmas. Featuring products from established and trusted suppliers, the Christmas 2019 range offers the perfect blend of traditional and modern delicacies. Featuring sweet treats, savoury delights and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages - there is something to surprise and delight any recipient. Spicers of Hythe has been creating the finest luxury hampers of distinction since 1926 and has a real passion for the finest gourmet food and beverages. Each hamper is beautifully presented and filled with little luxuries to make your Christmas extra special.


ARBRAS GALLERY Arbras Gallery understands that gift giving is an integral part of the corporate environment and that the image you convey will leave a lasting impression on both clients and employees alike. All items are hallmarked, can be engraved with your company logo – or any personal message you desire – and come individually packaged in an elegant box. The Arbras Gallery has built its reputation on the ability to deliver the highest quality products at the best prices.


Discover our extraordinary chocolate hampers this Christmas, with a mix of bars, truffles, caramels and more. Choose from our existing range or a bespoke, personalised gift for your staff or clients. From huge statement hampers to individual, hand-crafted truffle bags, we’ve got you covered. Discounted rates for multiple orders. Call 01243 510516 or email to speak to our corporate team.


Celebrate your Christmas party at Twickenham Stadium this year and choose from a range of exciting packages, from glamorous black tie dinners in our brand new pitch-facing suite The Lock, to an informal party in our very own pub, the Union Ale House. Prices from ÂŁ32 +VAT per person Both private and shared parties available.

Book online



>>> RITUALS The team at Rituals are committed to enabling a sense of gratitude for people and their efforts, with products that embody care and attention. One of the company’s luxury gift sets would be an ideal way to remind a co-worker, colleague, or client that they are appreciated. Comprising everything from cosmetics to scented candles and items for the home, there is a wide variety of gift sets to choose from, starting from £20.50 (prices vary depending on order quantity). All the products are beautifully wrapped, and presented in a special keepsake box. A simple gesture like this could have a huge impact – showing the meaning and happiness that comes from the little things in life. Email, quoting ‘PA Life’, to learn more and to receive a special offer.


CARTWRIGHT & BUTLER The York Grand Festive Hamper is a real showstopper with everything you could think of for your festive teatime entertaining. The large wicker hamper is packed with seasonal specialities such as mince pies, Christmas fruit cake and Christmas pudding, plus rich and decadent sweet biscuits, chocolate and confectionery. The wooden cheeseboard with savoury biscuits and chutneys make the perfect after dinner finish with coffee, whilst the delicate afternoon tea blend and acacia honey provide a tempting treat for earlier in the day. Pure Prosecco and the new, extra special Darjeeling Infused Parlour Gin complete the banquet. Options to personalise include a branded plaque affixed to the front of the hamper and a personalised message card, RSP £250. Cartwright & Butler hampers start at £39 and also offer a ‘Build Your Own’ option.

CLEARWATER HAMPERS Clearwater Hampers is one of the UK’s largest hamper companies. Established in Oxfordshire in 1979, it has over 40 years’ experience in supplying gift hampers to business customers in the UK and worldwide. The company offers a large range of hamper gifts. Working with the largest number of artisan food and drink suppliers it’s able to source items to make the perfect corporate food and drink gifts. Clearwater Hampers understands the positive effects that corporate gifts have on cementing relationships with your clients and to reward and motivate your employees. Its Christmas hampers make the perfect gift idea to send to clients, employees and suppliers.


Luxury Christmas hampers to surprise and delight




placed by 06/10/2019

placed by 19/11/2019

with code PALIFE tel. 01303 235600



>>> STRAND PALACE HOTEL Strand Palace is surrounded by the best London has to offer. Set in the heart of London, the hotel is mere moments from Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and the Thames, making it the perfect location to host your Christmas Event in central London. Throughout December, Strand Palace is serving a superb Christmas menu, in its restaurant, bar and private dining room. What’s more, it’s placed a festive twist on the irresistible afternoon tea! The hotel has recently launched its brand new in-house restaurant and bar. Haxells is the perfect place to enjoy great food, cocktails and more. Your guests can enjoy British inspired cuisine with modern art deco décor throughout the restaurant, bar, afternoon tearoom and private dining room.

GLENEAGLES Why not start the festive season by hosting your bespoke Christmas party at Gleneagles! From glamorous cocktails to fine dining and a range of luxurious event spaces, its event managers will help create an unforgettable experience. Gleneagles has gifts covered too; its vouchers make a special surprise on Christmas morning. From shooting, golfing and fishing lessons to Afternoon Tea for two, and from Day Spa experiences to monetary vouchers from £50 to £5,000. Or choose one of its luxury Christmas hampers. Available in three sizes, these festive hampers bring together a luxurious selection of fine foods from the Gleneagles & Co artisan range.


GIFTS INTERNATIONAL At Gifts International you’ll find a wide selection of gifts available with UK and worldwide delivery. Whether you’re buying for a loved one, employee or client, there’s something to suit every budget. Show you care with a flower or balloons delivery, celebrate in style with a champagne gift or say ‘thank you’ with a food hamper. You can send wine and spirits to treat staff and clients, no matter what their favourite tipple might be. Customer service is a number-one priority, as Gifts International’s customer rating attests. Gifts International specialises in thoughtful and luxurious gifts that will bring a smile to anyone’s face, and deliver to almost any address worldwide.




>>> LITTLE SUN Launched at London’s Tate Modern by artist Olafur Eliasson, Little Sun is a social business transforming lives through the power of sustainable energy. When you purchase Little Sun solar products, you bring solar energy to the people who need it the most. For people living without electricity, using solar instead of toxic kerosene means they can work and study safely at night. For those with electricity, Little Sun is the perfect introduction to clean energy – great for your home, and on the go. Whether for Christmas or your company’s anniversary, Little Sun is the perfect gift for your employees and business partners.



EVENTIFY Whether you are looking for full, end-to-end event management or just after a fabulous venue for your event, Eventify can tailor its services to best suit your requirements. Eventify will work closely with you to deliver an exceptional event that best represents you or your brand. Unlike many other venue finder services, Eventify can support you every step of the way in getting your venue contracted. The company’s detailed and illustrated venue proposals will offer you a range of venue ideas that best suit your needs and budget, based on your brief. Eventify’s full event management services will ensure the planning process of your next event is as smooth and hassle free as possible. Eventify will manage every little detail from the venue to entertainment, to caterers, even your guest list and accommodation needs.

GLYNDEBOURNE A blissful hour away from London, Glyndebourne offers a host of entertaining spaces including three onsite restaurants, a lecture theatre and award-winning auditorium. The founders’ 1934 ethos ‘not the best we can do, but the best that can be done anywhere’ still stands, and the standards of excellence extend from the performance to the 12 acres of gardens. The summer Festival offers the traditions of Black Tie dress code and picnicking during the 90-minute interval. Events are catered for year-round, from hospitality packages to full site hire. Contact Jennifer Deane 01273 815 418.

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR Haxells Restaurant & Bar at Strand Palace is the perfect venue to host an exceptional party this festive season. Enjoy private dining, christmas lunches, afternoon tea and more.

BOOK NOW FOR CHRISTMAS 2019 372 Strand, London, WC2R 0JJ | | +44 (0)20 7379 4737 |

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A fantastic venue for all types of corporate events, rewards, team-building, client days, charity events, Xmas parties at the UK's number 1 indoor karting track close to the City & canary wharf Food packages & transport available 0207 1004412 | |


Down on the farm PA Life headed to the Williams’ restaurant at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel ahead of our upcoming FAM trip for a taster of lunch and a peek at the Hertfordshire venue’s event facilities…

Just 10 miles outside of North London, and nestled between the towns of Hertford and Welwyn in the Hertfordshire countryside, is Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, a 4 Star hotel centred around uniquely converted farm buildings that run alongside the meandering River Mimram. It’s one of those excellently multifaceted venues, which is equally suited to both private and corporate experiences, whether a meeting, lunch, dinner or full residential conference. We visited on a gorgeous September afternoon, with the approach up the lovely long driveway and over the river placing you in what would have been the old farm buildings courtyard. Quite quickly you can see and appreciate the thinking behind the design – a fusion of old and new styles that’s extremely welcoming, with ample parking too for those bringing along a crowd. We headed straight for the Williams’ Bar & Restaurant, which was originally a chicken shed when the Williams’ family purchased Tewin Bury Farm. In fact, the hotel has evolved from humble beginnings - the family opened up a farm shop to sell their potatoes and other local produce and alongside this,

as an experiment, they opened four rooms in the family home as guest rooms available for visitors. Demand was such that an onsite restaurant was a no-brainer and the rest, as they say, is history. Inside, Williams’ reflects the same style sensibilities as the exterior – old exposed beams in the high and airy ceiling paired with contemporary wooden furniture and decorations.

shoulder, and a fillet of bream, finishing with a shared cheese board. The restaurant staff were friendly throughout and extremely knowledgeable – able to talk through the various ingredients and their sources for each dish. There was a large corporate event taking place on the day we visited, with Tewin Bury Farm also offering a range of spaces that can accommodate events,

The team of chefs at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel have designed imaginative and creative menus inspired by local produce and the seasons. And all of it is immaculately presented.

The team of chefs at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel have designed imaginative and creative menus that are inspired by local produce and the seasons (make sure you check out their Sunday roasts, and things can get lively with live music). The restaurant’s specials change daily depending on the produce available. We tucked into immaculately presented starters of confit duck terrine and salt cured scallops, followed by a perfectly cooked saddle of lamb with pressed

from board meetings and team building to a conference for hundreds. It’s worth noting that the hotel operates a shuttle service from Welwyn North station (direct from King’s Cross) and road links connect you very quickly with the A1(M), M1 and M25. You can check out the Williams’ restaurant in person at our Tewin Bury Farm Hotel FAM Trip on October 15th – visit for more details and to RSVP.



Radio Alice is affordable, the service is superfast and the staff are friendly. It’s perfect for a fast working lunch, or for more relaxed dining when the lights go down.

Margherita time! Radio Alice was founded by brothers Matteo and Salvatore Aloe in 2010 in Bologna. They now boast 11 outlets in Italy and three in London. PA Life speaks to Matteo about why the pizzeria is perfect for business lunches, after work fun and Christmas parties Why the name Radio Alice? Radio Alice was a 1970s pirate radio station from Bologna Italy. It was a free station, set up to give the people a free voice in a time when rights were being restricted - a year later it was shut down by the police. The name is a nod to the spirit of our beautiful city, where we’re happy to do things a little differently. Salvatore also set up our own web radio - it plays across our 11 pizzerias in Italy and three in London; it’s an eclectic mix of our favourite music from funk, soul, hip hop, classic Italian, Brit pop….anything goes. What sets Radio Alice apart from other pizzerias? Ever gone to a pizzeria and felt full and bloated after? The way we make our sourdough means you won’t! We freshly make sourdough every day from organic stoneground flour, sourdough

(mother yeast), 24 hours fermentation and topped with seasonal ingredients, sliced into eight so it’s easy to share. We also cook the pizza at a lower heat for longer, so the pizza is golden and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. A steak can be ‘rare’ but an uncooked pizza is just uncooked! Talk us through some of the most popular dishes on your menu. Everyone loves our fiordilatte mozzarella pizza - queen of the Margherita! It’s affordable (at £7.50), simple, yet elevated with exceptionally artisanal organic ingredients. We change our menus every quarter with the seasons, so there is always something new to try, but my personal favourite is a pizza that we’ve had since we started in 2010 - our Prosciutto di Parma, fiordilatte mozzarella, fresh burrata and house made orange oil: an explosion of flavours and textures. Why is Radio Alice perfect for business lunches or dinners? Radio Alice is affordable, the service is

super-fast, and the staff are always friendly. It’s the perfect place for a quick work break in a relaxed environment, with delicious food. Equally if you have a bit more time when the lights are low, the music is turned up and the cocktails are made. Our three locations in London - Canary Wharf, Hoxton Square and Clapham - can accommodate intimate bookings through to complete private hire. We love doing a pizza-making party where everyone can learn how to make a great pizza – then eat their creation! Do you offer private dining spaces? Yes, we do in all three locations. What are the opportunities for anyone looking to book a Christmas party? We offer pizza making parties along with negroni making parties - a great opportunity to learn and have fun. The Christmas set menus are great value starting from £13,95 per person. Book for 6+ people before October 31st and you’ll receive a £40 voucher for you to use in January – just say ‘PA Life’ when you book.



Ready, tech, go! Recruitment giant Hays has launched its latest ‘What Workers Want’ report titled ‘Mindset Key for Digital Change’. As the name suggests, this is focusing on automation and digital transformation in the workplace. So, how are Executive and Personal Assistants responding to change? PA Life provides exclusive insights from the Hays research Personal and Executive Assistants are enthusiastic about using the latest technology in the workplace. However, there is a lack of awareness as to the specific benefits offered by automation, and the current deployment of automation technology has not been in line with the areas that would most benefit their day-to-day roles. KEY FINDINGS Marjority of employers investing in automation O Over a third (35%) of PA and EA respondents say that digital transformation is a primary focus for their organisation, and 40% say it is a secondary focus O Two-thirds (66%) of PA and EA employers state that they are currently, or will be, investing in automation O Despite this, 26% of employers are not

sure if they are investing in automation. This lack of awareness is higher than the UK average of 16% and amongst the highest across all the industries and functions we surveyed Productivity and process efficiencies driving automation investment O PA and EA respondents deem the main benefits of automation in the workplace to be improved productivity (34%), process efficiencies (24%) and cost savings (16%) O In terms of specific job areas or tasks, 42% of employers say that paying invoices has already benefited from an investment in automation, or will soon. 39% said the same for expense claims, 37% for word processing and document design and 34% for data entry O According to employers, the job areas or tasks with the lowest investment in

automation are virtual assistance and proposal/bid writing, with only 16% and 21% of employers investing in these areas respectively Automation resulting in an increase of administrative tasks for PAs and EAs O A fifth (20%) of PA and EA employees say that automation has increased the administrative tasks that they carry out, and only 15% have seen a decrease O This contrasts with the UK overall where more respondents agree that administrative tasks have decreased (23%) than increased (17%) O Employers must ensure they are being strategic with their deployment of automation technology, so not to inadvertently increase the administrative workload of their PAs and EAs, distracting them from more analytical tasks

T Below is another interesting chart, which looks at how employers are helping staff with the introduction of new digital technology. Some 33% of Assistants claim that they are getting no support, with 22% saying that they are getting help ‘to some extent’. 13% believe they are getting help ‘to a small extent’, with just 7% gaining full support.


W It’s interesting to note the PAs and EAs claim that automation in some areas of their working day is actually increasing their tasks. This is particularly true in ‘Administration’ where 20% believe it will increase tasks, compared to 15% who feel it will decrease their tasks.

W The majority - some 66% of respondents - say that their employers are currently investing in automation. In terms of the level of investment, it ranges from 11% ‘fully implemented’ to 5% ‘pre-investment’. Interestingly, it would appear that 8% of respondents’ employers are not investing at all.

T Thankfully, it would appear that the vast majority of PAs and EAs understand the benefits of automation, with 64% either ‘very aware’ or ‘aware’ of what it can bring in a positive way. However, a still relatively large percentage (36%) say that they’re not aware of the benefits.

W The bane of most assistants’ working life - Data Entry, Expense Claims and Paying Invoices - are believed by the respondents to be the tasks where they will benefit most from automation. But Diary and Email Management are also listed highly, along with Customer Service.

W Meanwhile, when comparing where companies are investing in automation, compared to where Assistants feel they should be, it highlights three key areas that are currently not being addressed Proposal//Bid Writing, Virtual Assistance and Word Processing.



The Randolph Hotel, Oxford. Telephone: 01865 256400



James Borg revisits the recently refurbished 150-year-old landmark hotel in Oxford, ‘the city of dreaming spires’, that has spawned some of the greatest names in literature, such as Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Philip Pullman... The ancient town centre of Oxford has lost none of its historic feel, despite being wrapped around by new development and growing visitor opportunities for shopping and eating. Right in the centre, with the train station just half a mile away, the 5 star Randolph Hotel has been the subject of extensive refurbishment of all of its 151 bedrooms, public areas and meeting spaces. With its Gothic revival facade and distinctive wrought iron portico, this listed building still manages to be striking, despite the breathtaking architecture of some of the University’s famous colleges and buildings that are moments away. For more than a century and a half it has hosted world leaders in politics (including UK Prime Ministers and US Presidents), academia, arts, entertainment and business. It has always been popular for business meetings and functions, with its four function rooms being well set up for corporate events, meetings, conferences and dinners. In addition, there is The Ballroom, which has been remodeled and caters for up to 400 people. When work is done there is so much nearby to absorb the mind. The hotel is directly opposite the world famous Ashmolean Museum - a must-visit. Being just yards away from the hotel entrance, it was Britain’s first public museum founded in 1683.. On arrival at the hotel you’re greeted at the concierge desk, headed by Clefs d’Or award winner, William Thomson. A more affable and knowledgeable concierge I’ve yet to meet. His willing and industrious team will relieve you of your luggage and if necessary, also park your car in the hotel’s garage. Just to the left is the iconic Morse Bar. It was at this watering hole that the fictional detective in the TV series

Inspector Morse would retreat, with his crossword and a whiskey to deliberate on cases, or to make his sidekick, Lewis, “buy me a pint”. Visitors from all over the world, who are fans of the programme, come to see or have a drink in this pannelled bar with its stone fireplace. Try a themed cocktail such as the Vesper Martini (Ian Fleming 007 connection). Or try the newly-opened modern Cartoon Bar with its collection of cartoons on the wall dating back to 1866. Some 35 types of gin are available here. The striking lobby with its Corinthian columns, stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings leads you to the sweeping double-sided staircase. I remember when first visiting the hotel 15 years ago, walking up the staircase and

rooms have bathrobes, slippers, Nespresso coffee machines, and large desks and work area. Afternoon tea is a favourite that’s served in the ornate Drawing Room, with its plush seating and high ceiling. You can unwind from the rigours of work by going subterranean down the winding staircase to visit The Spa. The candle-lit walkway leads to the four treatment rooms, with Elemis facial and body treatments and massages, a steam room, ice room and plunge pool. The centrepiece of the hotel is the restaurant. Its in the style of a baronial hall with medieval chandeliers, forest green walls, full-length windows and all the college’s University crests lining the panelled ceiling. Breakfast is also served

“The city’s grandest old hotel remains steadfastly traditional while embracing the new with style. How do they manage to do this?”

having the feeling of being elsewhere – Hogwarts... ...Digressing - it’s of no surprise really. A few minutes away is the fan-vaulted staircase at Christ Church College that was used in the Harry Potter films - as well as the college’s cloisters. The dining hall provided the prototype for the Great Hall on the big screen. The concierge can advise about a tour of these Christ Church sights. The college is also world renowned as the home of Alice Liddell, the dean’s daughter who inspired ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Her creator, Lewis Carroll, teached and resided here. Ascending the grand staircase with all the stained glass windows, each floor has a range of rooms and suites all with period features. The spacious executive

here, with the team orchestrated by the long-standing and unflappable supervisor, Penny. There is a cold buffet, and hot cooked breakfast is served to you at the table. The city’s grandest old hotel remains steadfastly traditional while embracing the new with style. How do they manage to do this? As Alice would say: ‘curiouser and curiouser’. James Borg is a No 1 bestselling and award-winning author who has also been involved in travel journalism on destinations and hotels, since the 90s. He is working on a book on travel destinations featured on the small and big screen.



IBTM World is the leading global event for the meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry. It features meetings, networking and a strong series of conference sessions.

Join the Elite club at IBTM World Here’s another reason to consider heading to Barcelona in November: you’ll have the opportunity to take part in an Elite Corporate Programme. PA Life reports IBTM World has announced the introduction of its Elite Corporate Programme, which takes place on November 20th, the second day of IBTM World, in Barcelona. Created in association with American Express Meeting & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel, supported by the Event Marketing Association and sponsored by London & Partners, the Elite Corporate Programme includes four sessions addressing some of the key challenges facing senior corporate event organisers. The programme is an opportunity to learn, network and share best practices in an intimate environment and finishes with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Barcelona and an exciting social dining experience. Sessions include: ‘An In-Depth Look at the Event Experience: What Marketing Owners Want’ presented by Tracey Boreham, Account Management Lead, Global Client Group, EMEA, American Express Meetings & Events ‘Focus on the Why: How Branding Principles Can Guide Your Event Design’ presented by Mikael Ek, Commercial


Lead, Global Client Group, EMEA, American Express Meetings & Events A thought-provoking case study on engagement and experience led by Laura Garcia, Senior Manager of Marketing at Adobe and Brooke Davis, Global Travel and Events Manager at lululemon. There will also be a peer-to-peer roundtable discussion on overcoming event challenges, with the Event Marketing Association. David Thompson, IBTM World Event Director, said: “We know from speaking to our senior buyers that tailored experiences are extremely important for them. Our new Elite Corporate Programme is all about providing these event planners with a unique environment in which to learn and share ideas and challenges.” Senior event planners from a FTSE 500 or equivalent company can apply to be on the programme by registering their interest to be a Hosted Buyer. As well as having the opportunity to meet potential suppliers and network with peers, corporate meetings planners can benefit from IBTM’s networking events and full Knowledge Programme.

IBTM WORLD: NEED TO KNOW When: 19-21 November 2019 Where: Fira Barcelona Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain Why Attend: IBTM World is the leading global event for the meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry, taking place annually in Barcelona. IBTM World brings together the global meetings industry, with everyone having one common purpose – to meet the right people who can create better business results for their organisation. Build face to face connections with the right people, gain key industry insight and of course, engage in unrivalled networking opportunities over the three days. How To Register: Visit www.


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Come and walk in the footsteps of history, explore stunning architecture and linger over our collection of priceless antiquities. Contact us to book your tour of this awe-inspiring building, and enjoy a fabulous lunch in the impressive Elizabethan Hall.

MIDDLE TEMPLE Ancient splendour in the heart of London. 020 7427 4820 /

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PA Life recently partnered with American Express Global Business Travel to bring Executive Assistants together for an after work treat themed around well-being and a chance for networking. This exclusive Meet Up networking event, sponsored by Turkish Airlines, took place in the Le Chiffre Room at the South Place Hotel. Meet Up guests enjoyed canapés and cocktails, followed by wellbeing activities including massage, make-up and nutritional advice. In addition, Chris Pinner of Innerfit and Kristy Coleman of KC Nutrition delivered an educational and inspirational talk entitled ‘Health Hacks for a Busy Schedule’.

… D E S S I M U O Y WHAT yed a arters of Uber and enjo qu ad he on nd Lo e th ub members visited siness Travel… Last month PA Life Cl ican Express Global Bu er Am ith w g in en ev g wellbein

PA Life Club members experienced an educational evening at the headquarters of Uber for Business in London, where they were wined and dined before hearing about the latest developments in ground travel from both Uber itself and a PA who actively uses Uber for Business.





Level up your career with PA Life Courses!

PA Life is offering readers access to a selection of essential development courses. Available via the PA Life website and specially curated by an expert team, there are more than 100 courses available. If bought individually these couses would cost £890 but they’re available to Club for just £99. Nonmembers pay £225.

Have a bite at Radio Alice Pizza Straight from Italy comes brothers Matteo and Salvatore Aloe’s celebrated sourdough pizza. They’d love to introduce you to Radio Alice and share an exciting Christmas offer, so please join us for a pizza making Meet Up on October 10th.

FIVE THINGS TO DO Networking, learning and things to keep in mind

2 Register for the PA Show With a focus on personal development, the PA Show offers executive support professionals access to CPD accredited training and professional talks and discussions from leading lights in the field. Register today at

A taste of Fortnum & Mason


There’s no Christmas like a Fortnum’s Christmas, and their Concierge team is ready to create the most memorable time of the year for you and your clients, customers and colleagues. Meet Up attendees on October 30th will be able to sample everything Fortnum & Mason has to offer for Christmas, while enjoying canapés and drinks.


Conscious of mental health

Pulsus invites all the globally renowned and eminent speakers to the upcoming Mental Health 2019 scheduled during November 13-14, 2019 in London. For more information, visit www.



As PAs and support staff we need to be collaborative and work as a team. Sharing knowledge helps us to evolve.

Work & life

Anna Fiske is a PA to two senior Directors at professional services giant Arup. She talks to us about her career to date, the challenges of her role and the importance of technology… What inspired you to start a career as a PA/Assistant? After my degree, I took a secretarial diploma, so I would never be out of work and I am still here! I have worked in various sectors and being a PA means you are adaptable, flexible and open to change. The variety of industry has been brilliant because I can bring my experience and exposure to my current role.

with the London office every day. This exposure is fantastic for my career and means I can really get stuck in and be a core part of the team. There is so much variety that no two days are the same. I have a great relationship with both Directors and they are fully supportive and are very encouraging of my role. So, I feel valued and very appreciated.

How did you get to your current job? I worked in London for 16 years and moved back to Manchester just over four years ago. Arup was a great opportunity as it is a large company with a great reputation and lots of prospects. Although based in one office, there is quite a bit of travel around the region and to London.

And the most challenging? Arup is a big international company; and that brings with it many challenges. It has been a huge learning curve. I deal with a broad range of very senior Directors on a day-to-day basis. The key is to take a step back and understand each individual’s remit and adjust your response and delivery accordingly to achieve the best outcome for the situation.

What’s the best thing about your job? There are so many great things about my role, it’s hard to pinpoint anything specific. I work for two senior Directors. The key thing is communication which establishes trust and fluidity. The Directors are heavily involved in London projects, so I travel a lot and also liaise

What does the PA/EA community need to change, in your opinion? The world of the assistant has changed dramatically over the last five years. Technology has played a huge role in this. As PAs and support staff, we need to be increasingly collaborative as a team and help each other grow and develop.

Sharing knowledge helps us all to evolve and adapt. We are fundamental to helping our Directors achieve their objectives as well. Networking is invaluable - ideas from others are an integral part of how we move forward in the ever-advancing marketplace. What is having the biggest impact on your job or on PAs/EAs in general? We are there to support and assist, to make the workplace and our Directors’ lives easier. Time management and effective organisation is key to all the juggling we have to do. Bite-sized chunks give us light at the end of the tunnel. Keeping on top of new technology and using it effectively to help problem solve is also very important. What five websites/apps are invaluable to your job? Arup has great resources to help us develop and we use a lot of apps for our day-to-day roles. Concur, Condecco for travel and logistics, LinkedIn for researching, Microsoft One Note and Team Space for keeping track of day-to-day tasks and projects.

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Inspiring events for better business results Find your inspiration here! 1IX .'82 ;SVPH LIPT ]SY ǻRH XLI VMKLX TISTPI XS HIPMZIV I\GITXMSREP IZIRXW

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