June july 2017 uk

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Collaboration, gamification and virtualisation We decode the latest recruitment buzzwords

Rewards for great work Could your CEO replicate the ideas of Britain’s best boss?

THE CLOCK IS TICKING… …everyone’s talking about it and the election really upped the ante – how can EAs prepare for Brexit?







T H I N K AGA I N . . .

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I can’t believe I’m on to my third issue of Executive PA Magazine already – this year is certainly flying by. The fact we’ve had our snap election and, as I write, the negotiations for Britain’s exit from the European Union are about to begin simply underline the speed at which 2017 is whizzing by! On that note, our June/July issue offers a meaty feature on Brexit and what it means for the EA, pulled together by Gina Clarke, a sparky business writer who specialises on the controversial topic. A few pages before, you’ll hear from our Thought Leaders; this time voices from the recruitment industry. Hiring methods are evolving rapidly, largely due to technology, so we’ve explored what this means for you, whether you’re a job-seeking PA or involved in recruitment for your organisation.

June/July 2017

Of course, we have all the regular features, as well as a lowdown on Ireland. Our resident travel writer, Richard Trenchard, has profiled the country itself then looked in-depth at Dublin, which is home to massive global companies like Google, Amazon and Dropbox. Finally, I’m pleased to announce some new developments for our Executive PA Media Awards. Crone Corkhill will be involved for the second year in a row, sponsoring the Up & Coming PA of the Year Award, and holiday park Butlin’s is on board for the first time! A superb corporate venue, offering conferences, events and teambuilding, Butlin’s will be sponsoring the much-coveted Employer of the Year Award. Don’t forget – award nominations close at the end of July! Visit www.executivepa.com/awards for more information.

Claire Muir Editor, Executive PA Magazine



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Recognising EA & PA excellence all over the world

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To make your nomination and see your career soar, visit

executivepaawards.com 2017 AWARD CATEGORIE S

H E A DL I N E AWA R D UK PA of the Year PA OF THE YE AR WORLDWIDE Austtalasia PA of the Year Asia PA of the Year Africa PA of the Year Scandinavia PA of the Year Canada & USA PA of the Year TASK RE LATE D AWARDS PA Travel Manager of the Year *new award Best Organised Event RECOGNITION AWARDS Up & Coming PA of the Year Outstanding Contribution to the Profession Boss of the Year Employer of the Year Outstanding Executive of the Year *new award A C Suite executive’s excellence & leadership recognised by one of their organisation’s employees Nominations close on July 31st 2017

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CONTENTS June/July 2017



14 Recognition From using a Victorian castle (complete with a Star Wars cinema room) as the company HQ to giving employees £5,000 each towards a charity of their choice, we find out why money.co.uk’s managing director, Chris Morling, is dubbed Britain’s best boss

16 Thought Leaders Recruitment no longer consists of a quick scan of the CV and a simple face-to-face interview – our Thought Leaders explain how they’re leveraging the latest techniques to really fine-tune hiring decisions

21 Brexit and the PA Find out how you and your boss can be one step ahead when it comes to preparing for the uncertainty of Brexit

34 Teambuilding and troubleshooting Love it or loathe it, arranging company days out can be a bit of a handful – here, Cora Lydon offers solutions to some of your biggest teambuilding challenges

38 Christmas parties covered Yes, it’s not quite summer yet but every top EA knows this is the prime time for putting Christmas plans in place. Your questions are answered on page 38...

59 Tradeshows We take a closer look at IMEX to see what it has to offer PA visitors

60 PA Profile We catch up with Executive PA Media Award runner-up Karen Glenn, who reveals just how flexible her working life is at Colt Data Services

62 Education and training All about apprenticeships – find out how getting involved can benefit you, your boss and your organisation


SOCIAL MEDIA Find out what our social media-connected PAs are discussing on Facebook or keep up-to-date with us through Twitter, LinkedIn or via ExecutivePA.com


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Executive PA Magazine | ExecutivePA.com

INTERACTIVE 52 Executive PA Media reader events Why not come along and join us at one of this issue’s exclusive reader events

54 Executive PA Media reader report Find out how our PA of the Year 2016, Debbie Kittle, got on when she headed to Malta last month




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

26 Technofile Following the global NHS cyber attack, Tim Stackpool helps you prevent security breaches within your network

28 Office essentials We explore the products that should be in your office TRAVEL

30 The Emerald Isle Far from divided, both the North and Republic of Ireland mean business


42 The Fair City


Delving deeper into Ireland, Richard Trenchard shares top tips for PAs arranging business travel to Dublin


50 Booking Pass News, stories and advice to help travel-booking PAs VENUES

46 Ask the concierge Stewart Reid, head concierge at Yorkshire’s only fivestar hotel, reveals his favourite local foodie hotspots

47 Gastronomer’s guide In keeping with our Irish theme, the head chef at the five-star Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa in County Wicklow shares his signature summer dish

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

66 Career News, views and essential information



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June/July 2017

CONTRIBUTORS Informing, empowering and inspiring PAs worldwide

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

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


editor@solutionspublish.co.uk ADVERTISING

020 7002 7774 Sales@ExecutivePA.com MEMBERSHIPS & SUBSCRIPTIONS

LEO D’ANGELO FISHER Leo D’Angelo Fisher is a business journalist, author and commentator. He is a former associate editor and columnist with BRW magazine and a former columnist with the Australian Financial Review. He is a regular speaker at business forums.

ALEX JONES Alex is Executive PA Media’s recruitment expert, with 15 years’ experience in the industry. As regional director of Hays Office Support, he is responsible for the management and strategic direction of 50+ recruiters.

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

SIMON MOFFATT Simon Moffatt is the HR director (insurance) at Prudential UK & Europe, which serves the saving and retirement needs of the country’s population, employing nearly 5,000 people across three main sites.

JOHAN THOMSEN Johan Thomsen is the business development manager at Instructus, a provider of lifelong learning, training and consultancy to upskill the UK workforce in business skills.

OTHER CONTRIBUTORS Thanks to all our other contributors:

020 7002 7774 Subs@ExecutivePA.com CONTACTS EDITOR

Claire Muir editor@solutionspublish.co.uk COMMERCIAL MANAGER (UK)

Stephan Pavlovic Stephan@ExecutivePA.com ACCOUNT MANAGER

Harry Knight Harry@ExecutivePA.com ADMINISTRATION & EVENTS MANAGER

Sam Anderson Sam@ExecutivePA.com ASIA PACIFIC

James Brome +61 (7) 3839 4911 James@ExecutivePA.com.au CHAIRMAN

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Elizabeth Wakeling Gina Clarke Richard Trenchard Simon King

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

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



Annual subscription: £132 Copyright 2017 SPL Learning & Media

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

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

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


Belief becoming prominent in the office


How to ask for more In the Feb/March issue of Executive PA Magazine, we predicted (with the help of the 2017 Robert Walters Global Salary Survey) that PAs would be some of the most likely professionals to benefit from a pay rise this year. But if your boss hasn’t approached you yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t raise the topic. In fact, after surveying 100 chief financial officers, international recruitment firm Robert Half has revealed the best time to ask the big question: during a performance review (37 per cent) or at the start of a new project (27 per cent). And, with the Hays: What Workers Want Report 2017 recently revealing that PAs are the most ambitious of all the office support professionals, there’s no reason not to bite the bullet! Megan Alexander, general manager at Robert Half, shares her top tips for preparing to ask the big question: 1 How’s the market performing? Take a look at your company’s industry – if it’s doing well and your skill set is in demand, use these factors to your

advantage. If it’s not looking so favourable, change your approach: how about asking for non-financial rewards, like annual leave or flexible working? 1 Understand your value: consider what you’ve done to add value, and be prepared to say how you can further improve. 1 Look at PA-related salary surveys: assess what you’re earning compared to your peers – Robert Half’s 2017 survey is available online at www.roberthalf.co.uk 1 Don’t ambush your boss: give your manager a few days notice of the meeting, and say that it’s to discuss your career. This will allow them time to evaluate your performance ahead of the chat. 1 Be honest and realistic: when looking at your personal assessment, consider it from the CEO’s perspective. Can the company afford it? What will they get in return? Are you too valuable for them to refuse? Thinking about challenging questions ahead of time makes you more likely to satisfy the boss’ concerns.

The first study into faith in the British workplace was recently published; reporting that up to a million Brits may be experiencing religious/ belief-related discrimination. Meanwhile, although 75 per cent of HR managers say training and briefing on equality, diversity and inclusion is offered, only one in three workers say they’ve been offered it. If you’re one of the one in three, you may be interested to hear that the country’s first award scheme recognising religion and belief workplace provision has been launched. The ComRes Belief at Work Awards seek good examples of employers listening and responding to colleagues, and leaders who have understood that the religion and belief part of the Equality Act actually provides an opportunity for talent recruitment, business development and employee wellbeing. And if you’re not in the 30 per cent? Time to give the CEO a nudge...


The First Lady’s right-hand woman Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ former assistant has launched a book, sharing the details of being a PA inside Camelot following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy family, Kathy McKeon says her 13 years as assistant to one of the world’s most famous women were a lot of fun. There had been no formal interview and, after being instructed to call Mrs Kennedy “madam” on her first day, Kathy stuck with it. A close relationship was formed (the Kennedys attended Kathy’s wedding in 1971 and paid for the Barbados honeymoon) and continued long after the job ended.



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


Changes to your plastic


Future workplaces equal… dogs and dancing? According to The Guardian, pets are the new must-have accessory at the smarter office, with bosses using animal magnetism to reduce stress and retain staff, particularly in start-ups. It’s replicated in big corporates too – around 2,000 Amazon employees have registered their pets at the Seattle HQ, which comes complete with water fountains set at dog height. Around eight per cent of US and UK employers currently allow dogs at work, and 82 per cent of staff are said to feel a greater sense of loyalty to petfriendly companies. Dog owners say their canine friend provides a morale boost, helps break the ice with new colleagues and reduces the likelihood of people being late due to dog-walking responsibilities. Thinking about broaching the subject with the CEO? Ensure you present your case in full, with a set of potential 10


rules too – you’ll need to ensure dogs are vaccinated and workplaces are safe, especially for staff or clients with allergies. Why not suggest trial take-yourdog-to-work days to get started? Alternatively – or additionally – consider ‘Pawternity Leave,’ a concept coined by quirky Scottish brewery, BrewDog. Firm fans of having fourlegged friends in the workplace, the northeast-based company recently introduced puppy parental leave, offering a ‘free’ working week’s leave to help settle a new furry family member in at home. Meanwhile, a bakery in Burnley encourages its staff to dance among the cakes to improve wellbeing and boost performance. The Cherrytree Bakery worked with a choreographer to turn their work-related movements into a dance, which is said to reduce the likelihood of repetitive strain injury.

Although Brexit is stealing the headlines (see our feature on page 21), EU legislation will be shaping how PAs use corporate cards over the next few years with the Directive on Payment Services – known as PSD2 – due to be implemented in the UK from January 2018. This regulation covers a number of areas, including complaint handling and customer authentication, and is expected to drive more innovation and additional security requirements for online payments. This will make the process less userfriendly – but also less susceptible to digital fraud. Other key issues focus on whether UK-based card companies will continue to have access to pan-European payment systems, and be able to offer services across EU as part of the ‘passporting’ policy – both crucial elements in offering PAs more choice when it comes to payment options. And it’s been suggested that PSD2 may lead to a ban – or at least increased regulation – on travel suppliers applying high surcharges for credit card bookings, which can only be good news for your budget. Nothing is happening yet, however, with most corporate card companies continuing with business as usual, and the impact of the regulation only likely to become clearer when we know the type of deal reached between the UK and the other 27 EU member countries.


Cake culture Apparently we’re a nation of secret snackers with one in five lying to our partner about food and drink choices whilst at work, and 34 per cent admitting to taking in a healthy snack but plumping for a naughtier alternative. A bacon sandwich was dubbed the UK’s favourite elevenses treat, closely followed by biscuits. Trades topped the list of indulgent industries, closely followed by IT, communication, professional services and marketing. Time to get the carrot sticks out...

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


A quick LinkedIn clean-up For time-short PAs everything should be efficient, including a flick through your LinkedIn newsfeed. It’s already personalised for you, based on your profile and relationships, generating topics it thinks you’ll care about – but did you know you can further control the content? Here’s how...


What’s your biggest time waster? Or your boss’ for that matter? Whether it’s phone calls, meetings, email or interruptions from others, one powerful time tactic is said to dramatically reduce these costly interruptions: a focus day. David Finkel, CEO of business coaching company Maui Mastermind, says that a focus day is a specific day of the week where you carve out a three to

“A focus day is a specific day of the week where you carve out a three to four hour block of time to work on your highest value activities without interruptions.”

four hour block of time to work on your highest value activities without interruptions. The key is that, because it’s scheduled so far in advance, you have a definite appointment – and you can’t stand yourself up. 12


Following this, non-focus days are considered ‘push days,’ to move normal projects and day-to-day operations another step forward. Having watched clients try to apply this strategy for more than a decade, Finkel shares some tips to make the technique work for you: 1 Avoid making the first or last day of your week the focus day – there’ll be too many urgencies needing your attention. 1 Get help from your colleagues – share your plan with others so they understand how important your focus day is, and will support your effort. 1 Control your environment – get away from distractions if you can. Perhaps you could work from home, or even find a quiet conference room? 1 Bring only the work you want to focus on – leave other distractions behind so you can’t work on them, even if you want to.

1 Customise your feed – on the mobile app, tap on the control icon in the top right corner of any update and select ‘improve my feed.’ From here, you can discover new industry leaders, publications and companies to follow. 1 Hide posts that are irrelevant to your interests – again, tap on the control icon on the top right corner of an update and select ‘hide this post.’ 1 Unfollow people and companies you’re not interested in – follow the same steps as above and choose ‘unfollow.’


Recruitment no-nos Workspace can be a make or break factor for job-hunting Brits, with one in two turning down a job offer if the office isn’t up to scratch, according to a survey by retailer Furniture123.co.uk. Half of respondents cited location of the workplace as key, whilst 41 per cent were turned off by outdated interior decoration and, for 38 per cent, a lack of natural light was the crucial issue. With the average UK worker spending 8,060 hours at work each year, it’s vital to pay attention to much more than salaries and benefits. Top tips to avoid instant turn-offs: 1 Ensure the space is clean and tidy – lack of hygiene was cited by 32 per cent 1 Keep decor fresh and modern, and furniture in good condition 1 If location is poor ensure there are on-site catering facilities and break-out areas – consider car pools or an employee bus service too.

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Chris Morling, managing director of comparison website money.co.uk, has been dubbed Britain’s best boss by the UK media. Claire Muir talks to money.co.uk’s Laura Rettie to find out why… RECOGNITION



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We hear you’ve got an award or two to your name; tell us more! Yes! We’ve featured in the top ten of the Great Place to Work Awards for three consecutive years; we were rated outstanding in The Sunday Times Best Company Award 2017 and Chris has been shortlisted in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for two years running – and that’s just a few!

What makes Chris such a good boss? Last year he re-invested £3 million into our headquarters; just one of the many steps he’s taken to create the ultimate work environment. We work out of a 10,000 square foot Victorian castle, which has been designed to keep staff engaged and energised: meeting rooms include an ice cave, ski lodge and library with a secret passage. Each room is fitted with state-of-the-art technology to create optimised workspaces and the castle offers a range of onsite luxuries, such as a Star Wars-themed cinema, complete with popcorn machine and beer fridge. The money.co.uk team were asked for input on their ideal office before the designs for the revamp were created, so our feedback guided the redesign.

How does he show appreciation for staff? He’s always asking the team how we’d like to be incentivised, and we vote on this. We’re treated to monthly socials, both in the evening and at lunchtime. There’s also an arcade machine, pool table, table football and game consoles for entertainment. When it comes to bonuses, we’ve received an annual boost of up to 45 per cent in recent years and the team enjoy an allexpenses-paid mini break abroad each year to destinations such as Florida, New York, Budapest, Dubrovnik and Copenhagen.

And what about the Christmas get-together? We have an offsite, all-expenses paid party, which includes a three-course meal, alcohol, entertainment, taxis and hotels. Partners are invited too, at no extra cost to the employee.

How’s the work/life balance? The money.co.uk team are treated to free breakfast, flexible start times and staff can work from home. There’s no late work culture, with a strict home time of 5.30pm. We finish early on a Friday (with weekly beers and wine to celebrate!) and are rewarded with extra annual leave for each year we work.

Is Chris supportive of employee wellbeing? Yes – we have a free, on-site gym and enjoy weekly games of basketball and football, which he gets involved in, too. This year, the team’s taking part in the Upton triathlon and a 40-mile

Want to encourage your MD to create a similar culture? Chris’ top tips for a happy, engaged team are: 1 Challenging and fun work 1 A working environment fit for purpose 1 Rewards for great work

What Chris’ PA says Abi Francis, PA to MD Chris Morling, Money.co.uk “Working for Chris is demanding, but rewarding. He is very much in high demand, so juggling his diary can be tricky. Over the three years I have been PA to Chris, we have managed to develop a very good system to enable things to run smoothly. He is a firm but fair boss and I very much enjoy working with him.”

charity walk, Trek the Night. Staff choose from five different office chairs; designed to optimise good posture, and everyone has a laptop and at least two screens to make sitting at a desk as comfortable as possible. We’re trained on how to set up our desks to ensure maximum comfort. Private healthcare is offered, and there’s a cycle-to-work scheme too.

What about training? Everyone has a personal development plan, which is regularly reviewed and staff get up to a week a year for training. We choose the training we’d like to do and coaching is also offered to all team members.

What are your internal communications like? We have an intranet, instant messaging software and project management software for collaboration. Chris sends weekly emails called ‘Know your Company,’ asking a series of questions and encouraging feedback – both positive and constructive. We have quarterly update meetings too, with presentations from each department.

Do you use any interesting technology to improve the work environment? We’ve improved the temperature control, with fresh air circulating every ten minutes. We also have an incredibly energyefficient lighting system, which can be dimmed and tailored in each section of the office according to personal preference. There are TVs throughout, which are bespoke in each area, showing everything from the news for the PR team, to live Facebook engagements for the social media team. And we have touch screen control panels outside meeting rooms which allows you to book in real-time.

Finally, what are Chris’ thoughts on CSR? He donates 10 per cent of all company profits to charity (the team gets a say in which are chosen) and staff get three days each year to volunteer, choosing what they’d like to take part in. Employees have also each received £5,000 to donate to a charity of their choice, totalling up to a quarter of a million. Finally, if a member of the team raises any money, Chris will always double it. E INFO

The Executive PA Awards are now open for nominations: www.executivepaawards.com JUNE/JULY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM


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The Future of Recruitment Just as the way we work has evolved so too has the way we hire. This issue our Thought Leaders explore the future of recruitment by Simon King and Cora Lydon THOUGHT LEADERS



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THE RECRUITMENT industry has evolved significantly over the last five years; driven by technology, market outlook and a shift in what employees are looking for in the job market. Additionally the 2008 financial crisis’ impact was felt for many years after, which had a knock-on effect on hiring patterns across the globe. But, there’s been little change to the way hiring is conducted, yet decades of research reveals that conventional recruitment routes have a poor track record in determining the best person for the job. Using 85 years’ worth of research Frank Schmidt and John Hunter found that the three most common hiring methods were actually poor ways to predict the job performance of the successful candidate. Taking into account years of relevant experience only predicted three per cent of overall job performance, reference checks attributed to another seven per cent and the traditional style interview accounted for just 14 per cent of predicting accurately the outcome of the new hire. What this all means is that when combined, using these three methods to find the right person for a role only gives a 25 per cent chance of hiring someone who can actually carry out the

role to the standard required – the recruiter may as well toss a coin to select a new employee. Across the globe heads are being put together to work out what works when it comes to finding the perfect applicant for job openings and it’s commonly being tailored towards the majority of the workforce. Last year Deloitte revealed that its previously lengthy, three-stage recruitment process was being condensed into a single day in order to suit millennial candidates – who by 2025 will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce. But it’s not just about doing something different for the sake of it – or the PR opportunity. Google’s long-famous riddles and questions asked at interviews have been replaced after the web giant found no direct correlation between the eventual hire and their answers. But it still shies away from traditional techniques instead utilising problem-solving questions, practical performance assessments and hypothetical questions. As demand for support staff continues to be strong you might find that the next time you’re applying for a new role you notice something different, or that you’re being asked to implement new ways of finding and evaluating potential job candidates in your current company. t

A radical approach to recruitment Meet the companies who are throwing out the rulebook: Zappos: the US online shoe retailer offers new hires $3,000 to leave at the end of their training. The idea is only people who really want to work with the company will choose to stay and forego the offer. Pret-a-Manger: once a potential candidate has passed the initial screening they’ll be invited to work a day in one of the branches. Staff in that store then take a vote as to whether they get hired permanently. GCHQ: The British intelligence and security organisation designed a ‘crack-the-code’ challenge. For those who successfully solved it, they were directed to a webpage with the company’s current career opportunities. Sober Lane: This Dublin pub requested Snapchat be the method of application when looking for new staff – and rather impressively it received more than 2,700 potential new hires for consideration.



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THE METHOD: BLIND RECRUITMENT Thought Leader: Alex Jones, senior regional director, Hays Office Support, Australia “Blind recruitment involves removing all personal details, such as name, gender, age and education, from applicant CVs. Unconscious bias impacts who gets an interview and who doesn’t. Blind recruitment removes this bias from the CV screening stage and ensures people are selected for interview based on the relevance of their skills and experience alone. “One of the earliest examples of the technique actually took place in 1980 in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which, up until then, was comprised almost entirely of white male musicians. Recognising a diversity problem, they tried a different approach to auditioning new members; the recruitment panel sat behind a screen so they could only hear the music of those auditioning. They even put carpet down so that high heels could not be heard. This resulted in the ensemble becoming a near 50-50 split of male and female, with a lot more diversity and the sound they wanted for their orchestra. “In June 2016 The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced it had doubled its proportion of women in senior roles in a matter of months after changing its recruitment practices – chief of which was removing the names, genders and other identifying details of applicants. “It’s important for PAs to have an understanding of how the process works, since they could be required to remove identifying information from CVs before they are sent to a hiring manager. PAs can also be involved in organising unconscious bias training, which is very important in ensuring an organisation can create and maintain a diverse workforce. “When looking for their next job PAs should remove as many identifying factors from their CV as possible – obviously you must include your name, but you do not need to add any other personal details. “In future, we expect to see more organisations looking to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process in order to create a more diverse workforce. One obvious way this will happen is the automation of the initial screening process, which will not only quicken the recruitment timeframe but remove unconscious bias from this stage.”

THE METHOD: COLLABORATIVE HIRING Thought Leader: Henry Stewart, CEO and founder, Happy “Under Collaborative Hiring everybody who will work with a person is involved in the decision on who to appoint. And it tends to mean going beyond the traditional interview; getting the candidates to work with a range of people in the organisation. “The result is a better decision as more people are involved (so it’s less likely to be based on personal bias); it gets the full involvement of those they will work with – meaning people are committed to making the new hire work well; and finally the candidates get to meet more people and get to know the company better – and decide whether it’s right for them. “For PAs involved in hiring: your role is crucial. What I’ve always found is that the PA has the best understanding of how people interact and how the organisation actually works. I would always get the PA involved, from suggesting roles different people should play, to organising the whole event. It tends to involve more than 18


just a series of interviews, as you will have different activities taking place. So if you have six candidates, you will typically have six different activities taking place simultaneously (maybe an interview, a piece of analysis, one or two directly work-related activities etc). I’ve always found the PA is the best at making this work. “For being hired: It’s just like work itself, you will know how important it is to get on with everybody. It’s generally the PA who knows best how to make something happen, knows who to turn to. You can get so much more done if people trust you and like you. The same is true at a collaborative hiring event: make sure you come across not only as somebody with the skills to do the job, but as somebody who is positive and supportive and that they would want to work with. Most companies who practice collaborative hiring also follow the approach ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’.”

“In future, we expect to see more organisations looking to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process in order to create a more diverse workforce.” THE METHOD: VIRTUALISATION Thought Leader: Charles Hipps, CEO, WCN, London “To me, virtualisation can be defined as automated processes that crunch high volumes instantly, cut admin and costs, drive transparency for candidates and recruiters, expand reach and diversity, and massively reduce the time-to-hire. “Virtualisation is truly the future of candidate engagement. Everything is oriented to making processes simpler for applicants, from LinkedIn sync to make application processes seamless, to using email and text message technology to confirm successful applications that need to be progressed. “Video interviewing and gamification also help get candidates into an employer psyche and feed into full-day events where they’re immersed in what it’s like to work at the company. In this digital era, the push from employers needs to revolve around creating an engaging experience and personalising the process for candidates – and to do this, employers need to utilise technology to ensure they form a bond from a very early stage. “Virtualisation will be important for really getting under the skin of candidates applying for these jobs and understanding from an early point if they would be a good fit for the role in question. Time-pressured executives don't want to spend long periods of times undertaking hiring experiences but nor do they want to be rehiring again after short spells of times. Using virtualisation helps to test candidates for competent computer, communication and organisational skills. “Whatever the virtualised approach, the testing for PAs will look at scenarios that test the obvious, namely: excellent organisational and time management skills; good written and spoken communication skills; accuracy and attention to detail; a calm and professional manner; excellent computer and administration skills; a flexible and adaptable approach to work; the ability to use your own initiative; and tact and discretion for dealing with confidential information.” E

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21,22,23,24_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 10:13 Page 21

Brexit and the PA

With the fallout from the General Election still raging as Executive PA goes to print*, Gina Clarke reveals how EAs can be ahead of the curve when it comes to Brexit predictions t CURRENT AFFAIRS

* See our sidebar on page 23 for a post-election update



21,22,23,24_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 10:13 Page 22

tTHERE’S PROBABLY NO other time in living memory

when uncertainties over job security, business growth and rights and justice were so questionable. Now, with the triggering of Article 50 in March, it seems like Brexit is the elephant in the room; ready to scupper not just the way we plan to do our jobs and who we do them with, but whether we’ll continue to do them at all. As an island Britain will look towards exportation to survive, urging businesses to think worldwide and not just Europeanwide. Although opportunities lay ahead, what we’ve seen so far is a drop in currency as the ebb and flow of the Brexit tide has sent the pound tumbling.

EA takeaways:

1 Firstly, don’t panic. From an economic point of view, Brexit isn’t the big bad wolf many predicted last year: nothing will happen quickly and it seems any government elected would be keen to protect current laws and statutes. Nevertheless, all businesses should be forwardlooking and, by working with HR and implementing an effective communications structure, you should be able to support workers when needed. 1 Keep an eye on inflation prices and currency indications to get an insight into the markets and a great prediction as to how Brexit is being received worldwide.

RISK AND REWARD The bottom line is that we won’t know just how Brexit will impact the role of the PA until we know more about what kind of deal the UK gets. But what we do know is that, with assistants representing business leaders across all areas of the economy, you’re without doubt going to see changes. This is especially true regarding higher inflation and the growth of the pound. The effects of Brexit have been felt nowhere greater than in the currency markets, with sterling having dropped between 10 and 15 per cent against currencies such as the Euro and the dollar. Associate Director of Foreign Currency Direct, Jonathan Watson, explains: “Generally speaking, prices of goods and serv-

Could your role change? Karen McMahon, PA at Shiner, thinks so: “I’m really noticing the additional paperwork and cost it’s creating. It’s a huge expense to keep on top of and a real admin issue to constantly update.” She uses the example of sending the exact same singlepage document to both France and Norway: “With Norway we send 65 pages of paperwork and pay £35 in shipping, compared to one piece of paper and £15 in shipping costs for France.” This is because Norway, although in the European Economic Area which promotes free movement of goods, isn’t in the EU, so has different tax arrangements. Not only is there a bigger shipping cost due to export duty, but there are also 64 additional pages of paperwork for sending outside the EU. If this becomes the norm, and we make a deal with each EU nation, that means a lot of additional time and import costs for PAs.



What exactly is Brexit? ORIGIN: The word was coined from the phrase ‘Britain’s exit of the European Union’. BACKGROUND: The European Union (EU) is made up of 28 countries from Europe who joined together after World War 2 to trade in a single market, ensuring import costs were relatively low between nations. TODAY’S TIMELINE: 1 23 June 2016: British residents voted on whether they wanted to stay in the EU, or leave. More than 30 million voted, and ‘leave’ won with 51 per cent of the vote. 1 29 March 2017: The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, triggered Article 50, (which gives the UK the right to leave the EU) with a projected exit date of 29 March 2019. 1 Pre-29 March 2019: There are many things for the government to decide. For now the UK will continue to abide by the treaties and laws currently in statute, and will no longer make decisions regarding new ones.

ices are rising across the country at a higher rate than before the referendum. Currently, the UK imports more from overseas than it sells and this means a weaker pound is not good news for the UK economy.” This ripple has already been felt by PAs managing flights and events. And corporate hospitality suppliers may change prices as their cost base increases and they fight hiring problems as EU workers start to leave the UK. This conundrum becomes bigger when the cost of overseas travel is factored in against currency fluctuation.

EA takeaways:

1 Stay aware of changes to the prices of goods and services in the UK as a result of the sterling’s fall. 1 Where possible, book travel in advance to avoid sudden increases in airfares or destination costs. 1 Remember, it’s not all negative: the UK has suddenly become a much more attractive destination for visitors attending conferences and meetings: the Office of National Statistics has tracked a month-by-month rise since the referendum (excluding October, which saw a slight dip).

JOB SECURITY AND LEGISLATION Typically, the Prime Minister would have been looking to call an election around 2019 or 2020 but with the negotiations of Brexit due to come to a close around this time, they could have been pressured to take a lesser deal. Holding a general election now gives voters a choice about how they want Brexit to be handled, too. A ‘hard Brexit’ (favoured by only 19 per cent of managers, according to the Chartered Management Institute) may impose harsh limitations on the rights of European workers to settle in the UK and could be the deciding factor as to how the Prime Minister arranges their negotiations. After all, they’ll have the interests of around 1.2 million expatriates to think of. t

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Post-election quickie: has the result changed Brexit? Despite a record turnout at the ballot box, the 2017 General Election resulted in a hung Parliament and the Conservatives have collaborated with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to form a minority government. Of course, this unexpected turn of events has put the brakes on Brexit, despite negotiations moving ever closer. Although the two parties share a stance on a hard Brexit, May has filled her cabinet with MPs who fought to remain in the EU – possibly due to feeling pressure from the public to water down her hard stance on Brexit, and certainly due to issues such as austerity and the NHS. So, where are we now? 1 The possibility of a hard Brexit and an end to the single market has shifted. 1 Markets that thought they had a plan actually face more uncertainty: a day after the election, the Institute of Directors’ 700 members reported a ‘dramatic drop’ in confidence in the government. 1 Uncertainty itself hasn’t changed: 12 finance firms in Britain still prepare to move around 9,000 jobs to the continent, for example. 1 Postponing Brexit negotiations, or even extending the Article 50 deadline, is now a possibility. And what about the EA? 1 The biggest headache: continues to be currency, which dropped again after the election so book in advance where you can. 1 If you’re looking at citizenship to stay in the UK: it may be a good idea, just in case – a vote to stay in the single market would almost certainly mean the right of freedom of movement becomes granted, but it’s been a tough issue that needs time to be negotiated. 1 Future business: could be impacted by another election, which may be required before the decision on leaving the EU becomes clear.

Turbulent travel ahead? If you regularly book travel for your boss, you could be about to face some challenges, with aviation predicted to be the most difficult travel issue during Brexit negotiations. Being part of the European Common Aviation Area also requires staying in the EU’s Single Market, so an alternative aviation agreement between the UK and EU will be required. Ryanair has already warned there may be no flights between the two for a ‘period’ after March 2019.



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“I’ve lived in the UK for the last eight years. I want to make sure we’re able to stay permanently, with the same rights as citizens when it comes to health and education fees.” Anne Desnos, EA, Balderton Capital (UK) LLP

t EA takeaway:

1 Despite personal politics, think flexibly and be proactive when navigating changes in legislation that could affect workers’ rights. Regular meetings with HR to plan for a ‘what if?’ scenario are recommended, as correct communication to staff is crucial.

DATA SECURITY Here, we’ll need to wait for any changes – but Theresa May has indicated a desire to maintain cooperation on security and defence, so this should remain in line with the EU rules. Of course, if the Great Repeal Bill comes in to force then the UK could change how we store our data and more importantly who we give it too. Already, talk about how the UK will work when it comes to our intelligence is worrying our European colleagues.

EA takeaway:

1 Data security changes could mean a huge upheaval for information processes and additional work for you to oversee – as well as potential additional training.

HELP FOR NON-NATIONALS Rights to free movement of people is probably the most contentious issue in the Brexit negotiations to come. Although we’re constantly reassured there’ll be no instant cut-off date that requires those born outside of the UK to return, applications for citizenship in 2016 saw a 30 per cent increase compared to 2014/15. Not to mention the record increase of applications for Irish passports from Brits worried about restrictions when trav24


elling on the continent. Executive PA Media award winner Shiner has already seen this, with PA Karen McMahon noting non-UK staff already returning to their homeland for better job security. Meanwhile, Anne Desnos, EA to Bernard Liautaud at Balderton Capital (UK) LLP, is currently helping staff (40 per cent are non-nationals) apply for citizenship, as well as completing applications for herself and two daughters: “I’ve lived in the UK for the last eight years. I want to make sure we’re able to stay permanently, with the same rights as citizens when it comes to health and education fees.”

EA takeaway:

1 If European workers in your company are considering their options, a close working relationship with HR is great to have now; just in case staff turnover is affected from any trade or working rights changes over the next two years.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Dominic Swords, Professor of Business Economics at the Henley Business School, says: “While the full impact of Brexit is unpredictable, it’s clear that the next decade will witness a huge re-structuring of the fabric of UK commerce, trade and employment. With these shifts, there’s a key role for industry in that future: creating forums to re-focus and foster new business connections, developing tourist destinations and enabling new innovative events.” And it’s these innovative new business connections and events where you might find your job role changing. That regular journey you currently book to France could well become China or Canada, as Britain looks to make trade agreements separate to the EU. E

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World’s most powerful PA President Obama’s former PA talks snacks, tasks and messing up

Get set to PARTY Top tips to make your festive bash go with a swing




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The city’s newest developments will push it to the top for business events


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EA POWER President Obama’s former EA reveals the secrets of working for the most famous man in the world



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Would you be happy if your colleagues knew your salary? INSIDE

Perfect presents

There’s something for everyone with our Christmas gift list



Riding strong

The rise and rise of the serviced apartment

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Leading the way

Setting up a volunteer network and navigating your first event

We look at how the PA’s role has changed and what the term ‘thought leader’ means for today’s assistants

London: open for business We explore what the capital can offer corporate groups



The tricky art of giving

Do you know what is and isn’t acceptable in the world of corporate gifts?

University challenge

Why PAs should study what’s on offer at academic venues



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

26_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 10:14 Page 26

Wait – it’s probably a scam! High profile and extensive breaches of cyber security have us all wondering about how safe our files, computers, and reputations are online, writes Tim Stackpool TECHNOFILE

If you work for a large corporation, it’s likely the security measures already in place on your network are world class – but bear in mind that this doesn’t offer 100 per cent security, particularly if the criminals take advantage of your good and trusting nature, rather than via a relentless sledgehammer-type but covert hack. We’ve recently seen major systems around the world infected and held to ransom by nefarious near-dormant viruses that work their way silently throughout networks before they’re triggered to pounce. Of course, these clever, but often tiny, bits of code which cause such havoc have to make their way into the system in the first place. One way this happens is by the victim clicking on phoney links or imposter websites that then infect the user’s PC or network. So, irrespective of whether you work for a large or small organisation, be aware and follow these tips to avoid a world of pain at your workstation:


Ensure your work is regularly backedup and stored elsewhere; either in the cloud or separate storage. If your system is attacked or held to ransom, you can easily reformat your entire machine then reinstall all your data from the most recent back-up. It’s not perfect, and will only be as good as your recent back-up, but at least you can thumb your nose at those holding you to ransom – and become one less contributor to their Bitcoin account.


If you’re requested to enter login details after clicking on a link in an email, double check whether you’ve been directed to the expected trustworthy login page, rather than a phoney – but almost exact replica – site. Sometimes the web address is almost the same as the trusted one, but, generally the scam becomes obvious after your attempted login on the phoney site fails. The criminals who do this are ‘phishing’ for your login details and, by this time, the bad



guys will have your credentials. If this happens, change your real password quicksmart on any sites where your username may also be used with that password (generally, to help stay safe online, try to avoid using the same username and password combination on various sites).


Email attachments can also be dangerous. These scams often target office professionals, masquerading as ‘payment for invoice’ or ‘parcel delivery’ notifications. If the email is unexpected, or not from a known supplier, proceed with caution. Don’t forget that your trusty supplier themselves could have had their system compromised; passing a virus or ransom threat to their contact list without them knowing.


Vulnerabilities exist within operating systems, too. When discovered suppliers, such as Microsoft Windows, often release a ‘patch’ to correct the dan-

ger. Your IT department is likely to install these patches as soon as they’re available, but if you work in a smaller business, or from your home office, be sure to install security patches as soon as you’re notified. Failing to do so leaves your machine open to hackers. While using the inbuilt security features, such as virus protection and firewalls, is recommended, you may wish to consider further third party security software if your data is particularly sensitive or critical. Unfortunately, becoming the victim of a scam or virus infection is becoming more of a matter of when rather than if. As such, the best chance of successful recovery comes from being prepared. Knowing your most recent data is safely duplicated elsewhere is the first step. Be vigilant about where you enter your username and password, and keep watch against well meaning emails that may be masking unexpected nasties. E

EPA_LinkedInGroup_Ad.qxp_A4 14/06/2016 09:09 Page 1

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www.linkedin.com/groups/4744409 Executive PA Magazine is the world’s leading business management title for senior executive assistants & career-minded administration professionals and is their leading training & professional development resource. Over 25 years old and separately published all over the world, our magazine is read by more professionals than any other journal for executive assistants.

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

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28,29_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 10:25 Page 28


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


Have a ball tFinding prestigious looking and healthy

seating alternatives can be tough, especially if inflatable rubber gym balls clash with the patterned boardroom carpet. This stylish gym ball helps strengthen muscles, increase balance and improve flexibility, coordination and posture, without looking as if you’ve pinched it from the company’s gym. So now you can turn the time you spend sitting while working at your desk into an opportunity to fit in some sneaky exercise. INFO



Aye aye captain vHow many times have you grabbed your earphones before

going for a run or sitting down for your bus ride to work, only to spend 15 minutes desperately untangling them? No matter how neatly you wrapped them up beforehand, the cords always become a giant knot of frustration the moment you look away. So, whether you’re navigating the concrete pathways of the urban landscape or taking a flight to your next business appointment, live life untangled with The Cord Roll; a simple way to keep earphones, charging cables and all of life’s necessities safe and organised in one easy-to-find spot. The Cord Roll addresses a universal problem in an intelligent, stylish and intuitive manner. INFO


Print it and stick it uIdeal for busy PAs looking to take comb and spiral bound

presentations and manuals to the next level, Avery print and apply unpunched clear label dividers allow you to create a professional, customised and bound product quickly and easily. Featuring virtually transparent easy apply strips, you can use Avery Design & Print online to personalise and print your tab labels in minutes using your inkjet or laser printer. Each pack includes five sets of A4, 10 tab dividers and clear easy apply labels. INFO





28,29_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 10:25 Page 29



The pen knows where it is

tWe’ve never been so excited about a pen. The Cross Peerless TrackR –

seamlessly combining form and function whilst bringing old world writing style clearly into the modern age – lets you keep tabs on your pen’s whereabouts through a suite of tracking features, paired with its own state-of-the-art app. Can’t find your pen? Simply open the TrackR app on your mobile device and it will locate it with a subtle chime and flashing light on your pen. Plus, you can use it in reverse: press the small pen button and locate your phone. Available in two colours, a robust black and an elegant cerulean blue, the Peerless TrackR has a comfortable balance to it and writes as beautifully as it looks. INFO



A bit like Google’s version of Evernote, this clever tool is now available on both iOS and Android. One of its main charms is the ability to organise your notes with coloured labels and, of course, you can also take notes, jot down to-do lists, set reminders and record audio. INFO

Workflow FREE

Customise your phone so that you can skip time-wasting tasks. By telling your phone what to do when it notices a certain action, you can instruct your phone to complete virtually any string of actions, such as calling an Uber before your next calendar appointment or uploading your latest photo to Twitter. INFO

Perfect print sFuji Xerox’s DocuPrint CM315z is a colour laser

multi-function printer, particularly suitable for small to medium businesses. With best in class colour print quality, cloud connectivity, WiFi, near-field communication (NFC) printing and document sharing options, duplex scanning and faxing, this mobile-ready printer is packed full of features. It can print 28 pages per minute (in both colour and black & white) in 1200 x 2400 dpi print resolution, straight from your phone or PC. It features Smart@Work One Touch, a customisable colour touch screen, to simplify tasks. INFO



Memo Mailer FREE

Developed by working with EAs and CEOs, this speeds up communication and productivity. When you press the button to record a voice memo, it’s sent automatically to your inbox. There’s no need to type your email address, and no need to go and find the sound file on your device. You can add a second record button too, to send memos to your boss, assistant or colleague. INFO




Mobile tech tLooking for a laptop with the unrivalled combination of power

and beauty, giving you the perfect balance between portability and productivity? Then check out the compact, yet elegant, AsusTek ZenBook UX490 14-inch laptop. With a width of just 12.9mm and a weight of 1.1kg, it has everything you need for on-the-go performance, including a seventh generation Intel Core™ i7 processor, up to a 512GB NVME PCIe x4 M.2 SSD, 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM, two USB type-c ports with Thunderbolt 3 for dual 4K UHD display support, and a powerful quad-speaker audio system. INFO




30,31,32,33_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 15:51 Page 30

The Emerald Isle

Although notoriously split between the north and south, the second largest island in the British Isles is far from divided, writes Richard Trenchard t DESTINATION



30,31,32,33_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 15:52 Page 31



30,31,32,33_EPA_June_July17*_Layout 1 19/06/2017 15:52 Page 32

tWHICHEVER WAY you look at it – not least profession-

ally – Ireland as a whole offers a stunning mix of cutting edge urban areas and blissfully unspoilt rural destinations, ensuring that whether here for a business retreat or city centre conference, there’s no lack of options. Both the North and Republic mean serious business. Whilst the former may lag behind the latter when it comes to GDP and output, what Dublin boasts in high-tech industry, web commerce and digital media, Belfast matches for stability. Suffering far less financial fallout from 2008’s Great Recession, buffered by the UK’s more resilient economy overall and avoiding a catastrophic plummet in the housing market, Belfast managed to claim the title of the fastest growing city in its country, economically, during 2015.

GETTING IN AND GETTING AROUND For those arriving from outside the island, Ireland has three main points of entry. Belfast itself boasts two airports; George Best Belfast City and Belfast International. The first primarily offers flights to other UK destinations, in addition to services to Amsterdam Schipol, via KLM, and Reykjavik Keflavik with Icelandair – both of these being key transfer terminals for flights to the USA, Americas and Asia. The larger of the two, Belfast International, provides more routes across Europe, although for long-haul services it’s likely passengers will still have a layover in Heathrow, Gatwick, or Manchester. Dublin, by comparison, is far better equipped for those looking to reach destinations further afield. The city’s international airport not only offers a host of routes worldwide, it’s also one of just two airports in Europe to offer US border control pre-clearance for passengers. The other is Shannon, located just outside Limerick; the third major point of entry to the country. Once on the island, public transport is limited, consisting of trains and buses between the larger towns and cities, so most visitors prefer to travel by car. Although be warned: congestion is an issue, so allow plenty of time for your boss to get around, even with the relaxed timekeeping this corner of the globe is famous for.

Food for thought Dublin’s reputation for food is cemented, but Belfast is following hot on its heels. For true fine dining consider making reservations at James Street South. Or, for something with a hipper atmosphere, Ox has been making waves since opening (claiming a coveted Michelin star), alongside the equally in-demand Deanes Eipic.



Titanic Belfast Titanic Belfast, located on the exact spot where Titanic was built, is home to the city’s premier conference and banqueting suites. The architecturally stunning space now boasts three venues in one unique location, having recently added SS Nomadic and the Titanic Exhibition Centre to its offering. Since opening in 2012, it’s hosted more than 1,500 business and leisure events, including the Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee lunch, the G8 Summit Reception, Giro D’Italia and MTV Sounds. The conference hosting history stretches across an array of sectors, from Routes Europe 2017 and European Federation of Animal Science to the World Conference of Credit Unions. Meanwhile, high calibre guests have included Her Majesty The Queen, Titanitic movie director James Cameron and Presidential candidate and former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. INFO


BEYOND THE CAPITALS Chances are, if you’re tasked with organising travel and accommodation for a business trip to Ireland, whether Northern or the Republic, you’ll be focusing on the capitals: Belfast and Dublin respectively. However, there are plenty of other options for business events. For example Derry, in the north is rapidly becoming a firm favourite with conference clientele. The city has its own Opera House and Grand Victorian Convention Centre, which can hold up to 6,000 alone. Meanwhile, looking to the south, the picturesque city of Cork and the laidback creative hub of Galway, are perennially popular. And for good reason, too. The latter boasts the National University of Ireland – with the former matching with its 6,000 capacity Cork Events Centre – not to mention having a globally renowned events calendar that includes the Galway International Arts Festival; a fantastic backdrop to any professional event. When all is said and done, Dublin takes the crown in terms of facilities for major conferences and expos. The city is home to the Royal Dublin Society, a 12,000 capacity space for exhibitions and significant meets. Then you have the ultra-modern Convention Centre and, in real contrast, the historic Castle Convention Centre. Until recently, Belfast lagged behind, although thanks to some £29million spent on redeveloping vast areas of the northern capital – not least the waterfront – it’s now competing on a European level. Impressive venues include Titanic

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Belfast, SSE Arena, and the award-winning Waterfront Hall. If there’s one area that Ireland, both Republic and Northern, still struggles with when it comes to business travellers, it’s accommodation. Belfast may have had an upgrade in terms of hotel options, but it remains limited with only 4,885 rooms expected to be available across the entire area by 2018. Dublin fares better, but still offers just 12,000. So, conďŹ rming where your boss is staying should be the ďŹ rst priority once attendance is deďŹ nite. Outside these two hubs, the story is much the same, although with less demand.

AFTER THE HANDSHAKE If the combination of the Republic and Northern Ireland offers an abundance of possibilities in a professional context, then this is multiplied when it comes to recreation. With so many choices in terms of culture, shopping, cuisine and countryside, it should go without saying that a good PA understands business in this part of the world should never be just business. Starting from the top, Derry boasts some incredible architectural gems, such as the Guildhall and the city walls themselves. Belfast, meanwhile, is a hotbed for modern history buffs, as a tour of the street art associated with The Troubles proves. Or, for something less hard-hitting, make the glistening glass dome of Victoria Square – more retail destination than mall – part of your boss’ itinerary. Further south, Dublin’s Temple Bar area is renowned for its pub and bar scene, with live gigs in abundance. Meanwhile, the Antiques Quarter is one of the ďŹ nest spots to pick up genuine rare ďŹ nds; albeit at a price. Elsewhere, Cork’s English Market is an experience in itself, and Crane Lane Theatre is a must for those who enjoy al fresco drinks, music, and atmosphere. E



A PA in-the-know Shireen Dallas, a PA in a top Dublin law ďŹ rm, has some advice for colleagues charged with Irish business bookings: “Bear in mind the Irish tend to be fashionably late for the start of conferences, meetings and talks. So, don’t be overly concerned if your boss is running behind or the plane was delayed. I’d suggest arriving a day or two before or staying on a little longer to do some sightseeing and explore the area. Research the area where the event is being held as sometimes a taxi is the only way to get to the venue.â€?



Located at the heart of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter in Northern Ireland, these enquiries@titanicbelfast.com



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Teambuilding troubleshooting Love it or loathe it, the chances are most PAs – at some point – will be tasked with rallying the troops for a bonding experience. But teambuilding is rarely met with a united opinion that it’s a fun opportunity, says Cora Lydon. More often than not, you’ll come up against some barriers to your plans… EVENTS

“THE MAIN OBJECTIVE when putting together a 1 Volunteer – charities will be delighted to assist in planning teambuilding day is pretty much just that… building a team. It’s about participating in activities or communication that engages and inspires people – it encourages them to meet, bond, understand and trust,” explains Karen Johnston, commercial director for Wyboston Lakes. “One of the pivotal roles of teambuilding events is to reinvigorate delegates and get them to connect – or reconnect – with their colleagues outside of work,” agrees Simon Jones, national sales manager at Butlin’s Conference & Events. “This is especially important for businesses where team members don’t always work geographically close to one another, but still need to maintain strong working relationships.” Done well, teambuilding can have a massive impact on those involved and lead to increased feelings of fulfilment and satisfaction. Karen explains: “It can often promote better performance and team dynamics and, ultimately, change a team environment for the better. Many companies use teambuilding as a means to promote better communication, better productivity, greater creativity, problem solving and ultimately better financial results.” Of course, it’s rarely all plain sailing when you’re the PA trying to pull it all together. However, rest assured: barriers to successful team building can be overcome – and it’s easier than you may think.

TEAM BUILDING ON A BUDGET Stuck for ideas? DIY options mean limited budgets can achieve big things: 1 Divide your group into two and provide each sub-group with materials to construct a bridge: pipes, tape, tarp, cardboard, newspapers, rods etc. Now physically divide the teams within the room so they can’t see what the others are doing and task each with building half a bridge – but let them know it must mirror the other team’s creation to create one complete bridge. This will force teams to talk both amongst themselves, and to the other team. 34


a day where the team work alongside each other to give something back to their community. 1 A challenge for the company could also be used for team building. Identify an area that needs improvement or some fresh ideas and divide your group into teams, tasked with finding a solution to the problem. At the end each team should present. For best results, mix up departments. 1 Think too about how to get great results – could you order matching t-shirts or running bibs to foster team spirit? And why not end the day on a high by splashing your budget on a celebratory dinner, an informal awards ceremony or a fun evening out to leave a good impression.

TEAM BUILDING WHEN YOU’RE ALL BUSY Enforced fun and team building can feel like a chore, especially when inboxes are groaning, so don’t be surprised if there are a few moans when invites land. “From the outset, make sure you understand what it is you’re looking to accomplish, the demographic make-up of the group and the objectives of the group’s time in order to provide experiences that engage all delegates and achieve goals in the set time frame,” suggests Simon. “Then make sure you communicate the objectives clearly to everyone involved, to ensure they are all buying in to the idea and will set aside time accordingly. It’s also really important to make sure you’re measuring the ROI of your team-building activities. “There are lots of different ways you can do this, including bringing external facilitators in. But my favourite – and an increasingly popular way – is to use technology, such as a GPS treasure hunt. You can programme content for the clues to reflect the business or meeting objectives and really see how much the delegates have understood and retained.”

TEAMBUILDING FOR REMOTE WORKERS What if you’re trying to bring together a group of remote workers who don’t yet know each other or have an understanding of how others work?


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“One of the pivotal roles of teambuilding events is to reinvigorate delegates and get them to connect – or reconnect – with their colleagues outside of work.”



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“Regardless of audience and their location, technology today allows us to connect in the virtual world long before an event in the real world,” believes Karen. “Here delegates can experience different ways of meeting and connecting with one another in advance of the physical event. Online people hunts (a bit like treasure hunts) encourage connection to ‘seek and find’ your colleagues. Open forums, teaser campaigns, competitions, can all be set up in audience engagement platforms, which take the delegate on the journey of pre-event, during event and post event. When the delegate then arrives on site they’ll already feel connected and this will help break down barriers and to move quickly forwards with the goals of the day.”

TEAMBUILDING WHEN NO-ONE WANTS TO GO One of the hardest barriers to a successful teambuilding session is when no-one wants to be there. People may be uncomfortable with the idea, unhappy with the change in routine or reluctant to spend the time away from their desk. Whatever the reason, as PA you need to try and resolve this issue. It might be worth polling the attendees before organising anything and making a couple of suggestions based on your preliminary research – share what the activities may be, where they’ll taking place and when. This will give you the time to work out whether people would rather something physical or mental, and whether they’d like to travel further away and incorporate an overnight stay or keep it strictly to office hours. You can’t please everyone but you can try to go with the majority rule. Also think about what incentives would make the idea more appealing… can you incorporate something more desirable into the itinerary, like dinner at an unbookable restaurant or a famous after-dinner speaker?



TEAMBUILDING WHEN THERE’S CONFLICT Although this is a tricky situation, it also serves to highlight just how important teambuilding is. One of the main aims here is to work together towards a shared goal – so start your efforts before the session. Firstly, make sure you book the right type of teambuilding. You need something that encourages people to work for a shared vision: forget pitting teams against one another and don’t try to force a relationship by picking an event that includes an icebreaker. Look for an activity where the whole team works as one. It’s worth taking a leaf out of sports’ book and giving everyone a pep talk. Just as chemistry creates a winning team on the field, the same can be said in the boardroom. In the office, it’s about understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, making sure everyone is working towards the same goal and you’re communicating well. Start to build a tight-knit team before the activity even starts. E

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Christmas parties covered Yes, we know you’ve not yet taken your summer holiday but any PA worth their salt is already thinking about this year’s office festive bash. Cora Lydon provides the answers to some of our readers’ top Christmas party questions EVENTS

Is the party tax deductible? There’s no specific Christmas party allowance, however HMRC gives tax relief for the holding of an ‘annual event’ for a company, subject to certain conditions. The event you’re organising must be open to everyone and the cost must not exceed £150 per head (this includes food, accommodation, travel, drinks, etc.). Whilst many companies may choose to use this allowance towards the Christmas party, it’s also possible to use it over several events or for a big summer party – provided the claim doesn’t exceed the threshold.

at Greenvelope.com to create stunning bespoke invitations by email to make that first impression count.

How many canapés should I allow per person? “This is always a tricky part of organising a Christmas party,” acknowledges Tim Stevens, managing director of Eventist Group. “Always plan to have more than you need. If you’re organising a sit down meal, three to four canapés per person should suffice – and if not, make sure you plan to have around eight canapés per head. People love to indulge at Christmas, so have a well-stocked bar of wine, beer and cocktail ingredients.”

Can I email an invite out? Yes, of course – but do it in style. Although you’re trying to save pennies, you can still create something beautiful. Have a look 38


What comes first: the venue or the theme? The ideal is that the two complement each other. Tim explains:

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“If you have a blank canvas venue then it’s likely any theme will look fantastic. However, if your venue is perhaps more historic or displays certain quirks then make sure you choose a theme that brings out its charm and individuality.” So, if you have a definite theme in mind then search out a venue that will complement this – or opt for a blank canvas so you can really go to town. And, if you strike it lucky with a stunning venue, it just may give you an idea for the overall theme.

forget the non-drinkers. Winter Pimm’s or mulled wine are good budget-friendly options and are in keeping with the season, while a non-alcoholic cocktail is more exciting than a glass of OJ. Instead of arranging for wine on tables, which not everyone will want, why not offer drinks vouchers to each guest? They can be redeemed at the bar from an allocated menu and, once they’re gone, guests pay for their own additional drinks.

Any fun ideas for entertainment? How can I manage the drinks budget? It’s nice to be able to offer staff some drink for the celebrations but, not unsurprisingly, an open bar can mean two things: heavily intoxicated staff and a huge bar bill. Make sure the right first impression is made by providing welcome drinks – but don’t

Entertainment is nearly always the talk of the event so it’s important to give this due consideration. The only limit is your imagination and budget. You could opt for a live performance: a band, comedian, circus acts or a speaker, or you could arrange for something more immersive, like a cooking demo, wine tasting JUNE/JULY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM

t 39

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tor karaoke. If it’s a large event with many

departments coming together, consider entertainment that works the room to help break the ice: roaming magicians, caricaturists, fire breathers and the like will wow the crowds. If you’re going all-out on a theme, how about a casino night with roulette tables or even a murder mystery event with everyone assuming a character?

How about more budget-friendly ideas for entertainment? For just a little of your budget, you can still organise some fun. Why not set up a small section of your venue with some games for people to play when they want to take a time-out? Ask around the office to see who has some board games they can lend to you – the sillier the better. Oversized games are usually a hit too – think giant Jenga or a super-sized Scalextric track. Think carefully about music, too – dancing is pretty much required at all Christmas parties and this often means hiring a band. But could you source a local band through your nearest University? Is there a local amateur orchestra willing to welcome guests with some gentle music? Remember, always make sure you see

them in action before booking. Finally, if you are hiring a band, you could keep costs down by hiring by the hour for part of the evening, then switching to an iPod linked up to the in-house PA system. Make a feature of this by asking guests to nominate their favourite song when they RSVP and creating a bespoke playlist that’s a guaranteed hit.

How can I elevate my event on a budget? Once you’ve got all the key aspects sorted, it’s worth spending time on the smaller details. Some of this will largely be dictated by your budget. But if you’ve saved on the venue, think about how you can upgrade the facilities. For example – it’s well worth setting aside a small portion of your budget to buy scented diffusers, fresh flowers, fancy soap and paper towels to make the toilets feel a bit more luxurious. It’s also a good idea to arrange a cloakroom area where guests can leave bags, suitcases and coats securely. This could be as simple as having a small additional room with a member of staff from the venue manning it – this means there’s always someone available to answer queries on where the toilets are too. E

Trends for 2017 1 Joint parties are on the rise, says Tim: “Shared events are perfect for smaller businesses who want to enjoy the energetic vibe and the glamour of a large party.” 1 Themed bars are increasingly popular too: “Attendees love to have a unique experience at their Christmas party and having a themed bar is a memorable way to do this,” he continues. “Whether it’s Pimp Your Prosecco or a gin tasting bar, a creative beverage option is a great way to entertain guests.” They also provide amazing brand awareness opportunities as they are so visually appealing – if getting Instagram posts and Tweets are important to you, this idea is made for you!

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Promotional feature

Wild corporate christmas packages at Longleat For all the fun of the Festival… of Light! Over the 2017 festive season, Longleat will be opening the doors of their newly completed, multi-functional event space, the Longhouse, for corporate Christmas parties with a wild twist. Delegates will be able to enjoy a sumptuous, sit-down meal in parties of up to 250 or buffet parties for up to 500. Also, shared party nights for parties of 10+. The Longhouse at Longleat is a self-contained event facility, boasting its own accessible restrooms, kitchen, green room, vehicle access, AV and PA equipment as well as theatre quality lighting rigs, plus an exclusive outdoor area. As well as evening events, the Longhouse functions as a perfect base for a winter fun day; situated in the park’s Main Square and immediately adjacent to the

“The inspired narrative of the festival’s 2017 theme will see guests travelling through a mysterious world, peppered with captivating scenes and characters from well-known tales.”

car parks its location couldn’t be more accommodating. With in-house events and F&B departments, Longleat have the scope to deliver a full day of activities and seasonal refreshments without the cost of sourcing external suppliers. If its Longleat’s famous animal residents you know the park for, or even the scandalous history of the ancestral Elizabethan stately home, then you can give your guests an all-access pass as VIPs for the day – coming face to face with magnificent animals and exploring the off-show areas of the house before dining in Lord Bath’s Banqueting Suite in the penthouse. Starting on selected dates from 10th November, and running through to 2nd January, the winter spectacular, the Festival of Light, will once again transform the world-famous Wiltshire estate into a glowing winter wonderland on a spectacular scale. The much anticipated theme for Lon-

gleat’s fourth Festival of Light will be the magic of storytelling. It draws inspiration from tales new and old; including popular stories like Little Red Riding Hood, the Nordic influenced Little Mermaid, as well as the local legend of Somerset’s ‘Gurt Worm’ dragon. The inspired narrative of the festival’s 2017 theme will see guests travelling through a mysterious world, peppered with captivating scenes and characters from well-known tales, evoking a sense of fantasy and nostalgia amongst all ages. Corporate clients have the advantage of being able to book their event and entrance to the Festival of Light well before the general public, and are encouraged to do so as the event has been steadily gaining traction as a must-see attraction for the south-west during the festive season. E INFO For more information on Longleat corporate Christmas packages, visit here: www.longleat.co.uk/business/christmas



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The Fair City Although the Celtic Tiger may not have been a buzz phrase for well over a decade, Dublin, Ireland’s stunning capital, has shaken off its investment hangover, writes Richard Trenchard DESTINATION



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ONCE CRIPPLED BY a collapsed property market, the repercussions were significant: businesses faltered, shrank, or disappeared altogether. Walk through the historic centre today, though, and the beautiful period architecture and centuries-old serene public spaces suggest an incredibly forward-thinking and future-first city. There’s a tangible air of confidence pervading the streets, and a sense that fun is being had while serious business gets done. Ireland was one of the worst hit by the recession of 2008, but is now back on track when it comes to work. Dublin remains the major driving force (almost 50 per cent of GDP) behind the Eurozone’s fastest growing economy, and this is reflected in both the number of major companies with a presence here, and the thriving food, shopping, and entertainment scenes.

THE PRACTICALITIES Ireland as a whole is not well-served by public transport, but rail connections from Dublin do serve other major cities. The two mains stations are Connolly – offering routes to Belfast, Derry, and Sligo – and Heuston; the terminus for lines from Ballina, Westport, Galway, Cork, Waterford and Tralee. Most visitors from elsewhere in the country will therefore arrive by road, with the M1 and M11 motorways feeding the semi-orbital M50 from north and south respectively. Be advised, though, traffic can be very slow, particularly approaching the centre, with the TomTom Traffic Index ranking Dublin the 15th most congested city on the planet. Nevertheless, travel within the capital is still largely focused on cars – although inner-city rail does exist, and two t



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ttram lines also provide options. Taxis are widely available and

remain the most popular choice, but come at a high price compared with elsewhere in Europe. This means there’s not much difference between limousine hire and hailing a cab, so your boss could get the best without blowing the budget. Dublin Airport, six miles from the city, offers direct flights across the Continent, Asia and the Americas, and is one of only two departure points in Europe to provide pre-clearance for United States-bound passengers. Almost 30 million people used the gates in 2016 alone.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS EXCELLENCE With a world-renowned skills base, resulting from a global top 10 education system (according to the IMD World Competitiveness Report 2016), it’s unsurprising that sectors such as technology, design, digital media, finance and pharmaceuticals are currently in full bloom here. Google, Dropbox, Ebay, Amazon, Facebook and Intel are just a handful of big names operating in the city, which is home to nine of the 10 top global software companies, and nine of the 15 biggest global internet firms, many located at the so-called Silicon Docks. Thanks to its vast range of venues, Dublin is a bonafide conference hotspot. From the ICON leadership conference, held at the prestigious Ritz Carlton Powerscourt (more sprawling Georgian manor than hotel), to the EuroScience Open Forum, which took over the impressive Convention Centre – a waterfront homage to futurism – there’s no end to examples when it comes to professional events of genuine significance. The Royal Dublin Society is the largest facility of its kind in Ireland with room for 12,000 delegates and there are many equally unique, smaller options. These include the Guinness Brewery and Teeling Distillery; both local icons offering meeting and event facilities, in addition to national treasures in liquid form. Meanwhile, the medieval crypt beneath Christchurch Cathedral (the second largest in the British Isles) has been used for everything from gala dinners to car shows.

A PA in-the-know Janice Finnerty, an EA within an economic board, has clear advice for anyone tasked with planning a professional trip to the Fair City: “Bus and coach routes do exist from the east to west Ireland, but hiring a car is much quicker, and the same can be said for journeys between the Republic and Northern Ireland. But, when arranging meetings, don’t follow postcodes as they have no geographical meaning!”

Dinner with clients Grafton Street and South Anne Street are hotbeds for culinary delights. The much-lauded Catch 22 has exceptional frutti de mare, including Ireland’s famed mussels, whilst meat lovers may feel more at home in The Woollen Mills Eating House, at the end of the Ha’penny Bridge. Here, traditional coddle (a dish often made up of leftovers and, therefore, without a specific recipe) provides the perfect remedy to just about any problem.



It’s worth noting that, despite the rude health of tourist and business travel in the city, hotel rooms remain comparatively scarce. In 2016, reports suggested there were just 19,000 beds available, with an average cost of €112 per night. As such, planning well in advance is essential. Prize options include the famous Shelbourne, overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, the newly-refurbished Conrad Dublin, which also offers a bespoke sightseeing and experience itinerary for those in town with a few hours to spare. Also, check out the aforementioned Ritz Carlton (and turn to page 47 to read all about its Sika Restaurant in Gastronomer’s Guide).

ONCE THE DEAL IS DONE Temple Bar may be a notorious tourist trap, but it’s popular for very good reasons. Not just teeming with great pubs and bars, the majority of which will be open well into the early hours for live music, this is also a wonderful destination for the arts. Project Arts Centre was the first independent performance and exhibition space to open in Ireland and is now far from the only one in the area. Meanwhile, the Creative Quarter, around South William Street and George Street, is another hive of intriguing activity that can easily balance out the business your executive employer is here for. As you’d expect, the retail options are first class, too, with the photogenic Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre just one of the indoor options, standing in contrast to the boutiques lining Dublin’s picturesque streets. This is also one of the only places we know of with a dedicated Antiques Quarter, which is a goldmine for collectors. Dublin is also renowned for its theatre scene, and the incredible Smock Alley Theatre is the crown jewel; built in 1662, becoming the only theatre royal outside London at the time – it re-opened in 2012. E

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Ask the concierge Stewart Reid, head concierge at Yorkshire’s only five-star hotel, The Grand Hotel and Spa, recommends his favourite city dining spots CORPORATE DINING


Le Cochon Aveugle

Located down the infamous Walmgate, Le Cochon Aveugle is a small French restaurant focused on trying new things, sharing, and above all, enjoyment. Unusually, there’s no fixed menu served for weeks or months at a time: instead, they’re guided by the quality of the ingredients available from carefully selected suppliers. Then the chefs apply their skills and creativity to present bold and expressive dishes. INFO




The Whippet Inn

The Whippet Inn is all about buying and eating local. Its speciality is steak but it caters to all dietary needs and has several fish courses, such as the delicious fresh halibut with tartar sauce croquettes, served with pea veloute. A unique and quirky restaurant located in the heart of York, it has a large array of craft beers and fine wines ready and waiting to be paired with each carefully selected dish. INFO

Owned by Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern, Mr P’s and The Star are centrally located quintessential Yorkshire pubs with a chilled out dining experience. All products are locally grown, and both restaurants will give you a great insight into traditional Yorkshire cooking methods. An all-round fantastic foodie destination with great service! INFO








The Rise

Part of The Grand Hotel and Spa, The Rise is the latest restaurant and bar to the York scene and offers a small plate/sharing concept in a relaxed dining environment. Head chef Craig uses locally-sourced produce and it’s all about bringing people together to enjoy good food and drinks. The warmth of the team paired with excellent food makes an ideal dining destination. INFO


E Our thanks to Stewart Reid and The Grand Hotel and Spa, York: www.thegrandyork.co.uk


Delrio’s Restaurant

This is one of the best Italian dining experiences in Yorkshire. Proprietor and head chef Giovanni and his team pride themselves on traditional Sardinian cooking techniques, with dishes ranging from traditional handmade pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven to fresh Scottish mussels served in white wine, cream and garlic. Giovanni cooks with high quality fresh ingredients provided by both local and Italian suppliers.


The Star Inn the City / Mr P’s Curious Tavern


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Gastronomer’s guide Marek Sulg is head chef at Siki Restaurant, which sits within five star Irish hotel Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa in County Wicklow, just 30 minutes from Dublin. He shares the delicious details of his signature dish CORPORATE DINING



Lambay crab meat with fennel panna cotta

Marek Sulg

“With an emphasis on local excellence and seasonality, Sika offers the best of Irish contemporary cooking against the spectacular backdrop of Wicklow's hills and mountains. “My signature dish is a new addition to the starters on Sika’s current dinner menu. The Lambay crab meat is served with fennel panna cotta, yellow pepper, whipped avocado and coriander oil. This dish is inspired by the sea, with the crab sourced from Lambay, a small privately owned island off the coast of Malahide in County Dublin. “And using the fennel panna cotta, a dish usually associated with dessert, is a surprising complement to the crab meat and enhances the summery flavours. Light, tasty and refreshing, this dish leaves plenty of space to enjoy the rest of the menu.”

Marek Sulg began his career in Ireland 17 years ago, working in many of the country’s top restaurants and hotels and learning skills from the best; most notably Michelin-starred chef Jean Michel Poulot. Marek joined Powerscourt Hotel as executive sous chef in 2015 and was promoted to Head Chef of Sika in April 2017. E Our thanks to Marek Sulg and Powerscourt Hotel, County Wicklow, Ireland: www.powerscourthotel.com



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Still to plan the summer party? Venue: Knebworth House Location and accessibility: Hertfordshire, with efficient motorway links via the A1M What’s new? A range of summer party packages at the 250-acre venue MICE details: Planners can choose a basic barbecue party, a summer fun day or the conference and teambuilding package, providing everything from street food and hog roasts to fairground rides and giant garden games What else? Should the British weather let you down, there’s plenty of indoor space to take over!

Europe’s first Nobu Hotel available for bookings Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, promising a contemporary, distinctive and tranquil escape from one of the city’s most significant districts, opens this summer. It boasts 180 square metres of meeting space that can be transformed into six versatile rooms. Meanwhile, the 240-seat restaurant offers semi-private dining for up to 18, and

there’s an outdoor courtyard – ideal for a networking event – with two terraces for up to 80 guests. Book those who are travelling from a distance into one of the 143 guest rooms – or treat them to one of the seven exquisite suites, complete with a private balcony. INFO



Back to school Launched this month, Beautiful Schools is a free venue booking service, offering PAs access to a portfolio of UK schools. Entrepreneurs Dorothy McLaren and Chelsea Hayes realised the lack of a central booking and enquiry platform meant event organisers weren’t widely considering schools as venue options, whilst

leading schools were unaware of the full commercial value of their assets. McLaren and Hayes say schools boast some of the country’s best facilities, within buildings of architectural merit – yet lie dormant for a third of the year: “Whether you want to book a private dinner where Game of Thrones was filmed or hold the annual company away-day where your colleagues can swim, shoot, dine, drink and sleep all in one location – we’ll find it.”


Iconic fashion venue available Venue: The Embankment Galleries, Somerset House Location and accessibility: London, on the north bank of the River Thames What’s new? Somerset House is launching its largest indoor event space yet MICE details: Running the entire length of the South Wing, and situated on two floors with capacity for 800 people standing, the versatile 1,059 square metre space is the perfect blank canvas for product launches, experimental events and large dinners What else? There are lots of other creative event spaces on-site too. INFO





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



Have a ball at Macdonald

North-east refurbishment

Venue: Macdonald Haycock Hotel Location and accessibility: Peterborough; just seven miles from the railway station What’s new? The grand ballroom has been transformed into a luxurious and glamorous space, after a £130,000 investment MICE details: The atmospheric function suite, which can accommodate 380 people, features high ceilings, original wooden beams, an open log fire, a stunning crystal chandelier and access to a manicured garden What else? The hotel has 10 further function suites and 48 elegant bedrooms.

Venue: Hardwick Hall Hotel Location and accessibility: Set in County Durham’s Harwick Country Park What’s new? It’s getting a £350,000 facelift in time for summer: boardrooms, bars, bedrooms and one of the function rooms – the Coleman Suite – will be revamped MICE details: The hotel is renowned for holding large-scale events, often for more than 1,000 people, and has 51 rooms for those making a night of it What else? The hotel’s Rib Room Steakhouse and Grill comes recommended!





Countryside views See the sun rise to die for at The Gherkin Venue: Tewkesbury Park Hotel Location and accessibility: Tewkesbury; 20 minutes from Cheltenham and Gloucester, and an hour from Birmingham and Bristol What’s new? A brand new event space, The Cotswolds Suite, opens in summer MICE details: It’ll host up to 200 and boasts countryside views through a floor-to-ceiling glass façade. There’s state-of-the-art technology, designer chairs to prevent a numb bum (!) and a private terrace with a wood-fired pizza oven What else? Meeting rooms and teambuilding. INFO


Venue: Searcys at The Gherkin Location and accessibility: In the heart of London; just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street and Aldgate tube stations What’s new? A day delegate breakfast package, offering exclusive hire of the top two floors MICE details: With 360-degree walls offering uninterrupted panoramic views, this inspiring event space accommodates as few as 50 guests and up to 140 delegates What else? Culinary offerings include morning pastries, a hot breakfast on a stick and fresh fruit. INFO

Managing catering for an event can be difficult at the best of times, but when you factor in the wide variety of allergies, intolerances and dietary requirements, it can become a minefield. In the UK, one or two in every 100 adults, and up to eight per cent of children, have a food allergy – that’s around 2 million people in total, and doesn’t include those with food intolerances. Despite stringent allergen regulations being introduced in December 2014, 10 people a year still die from allergic reactions to food due to undeclared allergenic ingredients in the UK alone (Food Standards Agency). In addition, hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions have increased more than a third in five years. Evidently, allergen awareness can’t be ignored. Thanks to the latest Food Standards Agency regulations, the onus is on venues to provide clear labelling and full allergen information for all catering – but PAs organising events still need to be aware of the associated laws. There are currently 14 different allergens which, by law, must be not only listed but emphasised on product labelling: these include common allergens such as peanuts, shellfish, milk and cereals containing gluten, as well as things like mustard, celery and celeriac, sulphur dioxide and soya. For peace of mind, make sure you choose a venue that understands the importance of allergen awareness and is fully compliant with the legislation. Remember that AIM, the UK’s nationally recognised standard for venues and services providers, includes assessment of adherence to the legislation in its strict criteria for membership. So, by choosing an AIM-accredited venue, you can be sure that allergen information will be supplied in written format, recipes and product specifications will be available for all food sold, staff will be trained in food allergy awareness, and servers can answer allergenrelated queries from your delegates. For more information about current food allergen regulations, visit www.food.gov.uk/science/allergy-intolerance E




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All the latest news for the corporate traveller

Is your boss getting the most out of their air miles?

Stay connected in the skies and on the ground Qatar Airways has become the first major Middle East airline to sign an agreement with Inmarsat for the new GX Aviation in-flight broadband system. The first of its kind, the new system will enable passengers to browse the internet, update social media channels and stream videos – just about anything you would expect to be doing with your feet firmly on the ground. The airline has previously offered Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband but the new service will be an upgrade offering high-speed, global coverage. Meanwhile, if the boss wants to stay connected on the ground too – but commonly racks up high charges on 50


“The new system will enable passengers to browse the internet, update social media channels and stream videos.”

data roaming – you may be able to cut costs by finding them a device that will give them a personal WiFi hotpot. Majesit-Fi is a handy tool that can keep your CEO connected in more than 100 countries, without a need for fiddly SIM cards and complete with encryption to keep communication secure.

According to hotel loyalty club Wanup, more than half of frequent business travellers say it’s very important that they receive points, or other benefits, each time they stay at a hotel (and almost half say they’ve cheekily used their partner’s points without their knowledge!) Fittingly, hugely popular in Asia, a new opportunity for frequent travellers to save time and maximise rewards has landed in the UK. Global travel booker Agoda’s new PointsMAX programme helps points-savvy bookers to boost travel rewards across 38 airline and loyalty schemes via one accommodation booking site. The programme is free to join and provides a portal travel bookers can use to shop around across points schemes, ensuring their rewards are maximised each time they plan a trip. For example, a return flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK, at a cost of £800, could earn 3,500 Avios points – but booking an overnight stay on the way could both break-up the trip and increase points by up to 40 per cent. PAs can also access exclusive points-boosting offers through the booking channel. Points will be applied in the usual way – Avios points, for example, would register on the user’s Avios account; not on Agoda.

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1 Qatar Airways will introduce a daily service from Cardiff to Doha next year, with onward connections to more than 150 destinations across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australasia. 1 More than 1.4 million mobile-friendly eTickets, pioneered by Virgin Trains West Coast in partnership with Trainline, were purchased in the first six months of operation. Now, Gatwick Express, the Caledonian Sleeper and TransPennine will follow with smartphonecompatible tickets.

‘Bleisure:’ rewarding the team with travel According to a Booking.com for Business survey, corporate travel has been transformed from an inconvenience into an opportunity to expand your horizons, find inspiration and climb the career ladder. As such, 49 per cent of business travellers have extended a work trip in the past 12 months and around one in three of those surveyed would accept a lower-paying job for more travel. Suggest your boss finds out how much ‘bleisure’ would mean to the team, and you could be ticking another employee benefit box – but do be aware of the following:

1 Review the policy for ‘bleisure’

internally, and look at insurance, as well as risk management guidelines – and stipulate that employees must comply fully with all aspects of the policy 1 If the leisure time isn’t covered by company insurance, the employee must provide proof of their own insurance 1 Limit and set the number of days that can be taken for leisure 1 Define what costs will and won’t be covered: a significant departure from the original itinerary, for example, won’t be considered 1 Invest in a robust analytics tool to monitor extra spend.

Bridging the gap between economy and business class After reporting more sales from business customers than those on holiday, the UK’s first budget hotel brand, Travelodge, has launched its UK ‘premium economy’ SuperRooms. Aiming to lure in business travellers on a budget and longer-stay guests looking for a little bit more, the new class of room comes with additional comforts and premium products, including a Lavazza coffee machine; Hansgroche showers; USB

ports; LED mood lighting; a large desk area with swivel chair; luxurious kingsize bed with a choice of hypo-allergenic pillows; a dressing stand with powerful hairdryer; a Samsung slimline TV and some sweet treats for when you need them. New SuperRooms are available at Travelodge London Waterloo, London Farringdon, London Euston and London City Road, with more to come UK-wide during 2017.

1 Thankfully, the US laptop ban hasn’t been extended to the UK and Europe – but if it ever was to be, airline organisation IATA expects it would cost passengers a whopping $1.2 billion through increased travel time and a loss of productivity whilst in the sky. To avoid this, IATA has suggested alternatives, including more intense screening, skills training and, longer-term, more advanced and faster explosive detection technology. 1 Is your boss doing business in Amsterdam or Rotterdam? Getting there is about to get a lot easier you’ll be pleased to hear: Eurostar is in the final stages of planning for two new direct services to the Netherlands. Expected to get business travellers there in less than four hours, the non-stop service will launch before the end of 2017. 1 Airbnb has updated its search and booking tool to make it even easier for PAs to find business travelready listings. You can now filter your results to only show listings suitable for corporate travellers – such as hosts with WiFi availability, workspaces, 24-hour checkin and a policy of no cancellations by the host seven days prior to arrival. There are more plans for integration with corporate booking tools and travel management companies. 1 Taxi-hailing app Uber has announced plans to introduce a flying taxi service, initially in Dallas and Dubai, within three years. It’ll feature electric vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing. Fasten your seatbelts...! 1 Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only four star airline, has launched its new loyalty programme, AerClub. It’s the first of its kind in Ireland to give its members the opportunity to collect Avios reward points in the air, as well as on the ground and online with big brands, then turn them into reward flights. 1 Time-pressed business travellers can soon take advantage of Heathrow Airport’s new duty-free shopping lounge. For the boss who makes rash shopping decisions, concierge-style retail consultants can help select the perfect gift or purchase.



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Your invitation to network at our exclusive reader events



Teambuilding taster If you’re responsible for pulling together company away days and teambuilding activities, take advantage of this rare opportunity to try before you buy, with Green Hat People 14 SEPTEMBER

With ten years of experience in game design and an impressive offering of more than 100 creative challenges, Green Hat People uses the latest technology and a bunch of bright ideas to embed your boss’ business objectives into an interactive and engaging day out. So, if PowerPoint presentations aren’t cutting it in the office, PAs searching for inspiration can select a ready-made meeting, workshop or event or create a custom design aligned to company messaging. Technology is central, with participants being divided into small groups and using tablets to complete the activities or – during breakout sessions – discuss, agree, disagree and learn, then share thoughts on a live feed. There are plenty of added extras to drive engagement too, from increasing pre-event involvement to gathering data during the get-together and using it straight away to clarify messaging or share best practice. 52



Green Hat People operates across Europe and most experiences can be customised to individual locations. READER EVENT Executive PA Magazine readers who organise meetings, workshops, events and teambuilding activities are invited to attend a venue in central London (to be revealed to successful applicants) on Thursday 14th September, from 6pm until 8.30pm for a unique and fun-filled evening previewing Green Hat People activities. PAs will have the opportunity to get involved in the following challenges: 1 Green Hat challenge – the company’s top seller, this is a modern take on the old faithful scavenger hunt. Armed with a tablet, you’ll be invited to explore the venue and find hidden codes, which will have been tucked away before your arrival. Each time you find a code, enter it into the tablet and it’ll trigger a brain teaser to solve or question to answer. The more codes you find; the more correct answers you’re likely to score – and the greater your chance of winning! 2 Escape room game – can you escape from the management board in the time allocated? This immersive and interactive virtual escape game will have you bombarded with tricky missions, with more difficult levels opening up as you progress. The aim is to crack the challenges, collect letters and solve the final challenge to escape from the room. Beware – it’s highly addictive! 3 The evening will end with cocktails, canapés and a whirl at The Music Experience; an energising game that’s all about solving music-themed trivia questions. To apply to attend please visit our website at www.executivepa.com/events-directory/reader-event. Please note: PAs are required to post after-event reviews on Facebook. Details will be given on the night. INFO


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Your invitation to network at our exclusive reader events

Award-winning racing Experience the hospitality of Cheltenham Racecourse for yourself, with an evening at the inaugural The McCoys South West Jump Awards 29 SEPTEMBER

Cheltenham Racecourse is based in the stunning surrounds of the Cotswold countryside, just on the edge of the regency town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. With superb links to major cities such as Bristol, Birmingham and London, it offers a unique and beautiful venue that can host a hugely varied number of events. The racecourse is most famous for its horseracing, which is staged 16 days a year during the autumn, winter and spring months. Each March, over 260,000 people descend on the racecourse over four days for The Festival, the fourth biggest sporting event in the UK. It is the pinnacle of the Jump racing calendar and the skills and challenges required to host an event of this magnitude lend themselves perfectly to bringing other functions and events to life throughout the year. With superb views and acres of space, the breadth of facilities at Cheltenham Racecourse ensures great flexibility for clients. The venue boasts 12 function rooms, the magnificent Panoramic Restaurant, 60 syndicate rooms and The Centaur, its state-of-the-art, multi-purpose auditorium, providing a range of inspiring spaces to suit your every need. Capacities range from two up to 2,250 with direct links between the Grandstand Rooms and Centaur allowing the racecourse to combine outstanding service with a truly flexible and versatile venue. From board meetings, conferences, exhibitions and awards dinners through to Christmas parties, road shows and team building, Cheltenham’s professional and friendly team has two main aims; firstly to ensure that your event is everything you want it to be and secondly that hosting it is easy, stress free and enjoyable. With this in mind the venue allocates clients a dedicated Event Manager who can guide you

through the planning arrangements and who would happily go the extra mile to ensure everything runs smoothly. Its partner Jockey Club Caterers will work with you to create both imaginative and bespoke menus which meet your exacting standards and budget, whilst providing that extra flair resulting in an unforgettable event. The team at Cheltenham prides itself on the quality of its food and skill in catering for your individual event, regardless of the size or type – after all when it comes to the racing, it caters for over 10,000 hospitality guests each day, to the very highest of standards. Cheltenham Racecourse is proud of its personal service and the flexibility of its venue which enables them to tailor a package for almost any event and to suit your individual requirements and budget. Cheltenham has a dedicated team who can discuss every detail of the event with you to ensure it will run smoothly and meet your expectations. The venue also has 10,000 complimentary car parking spaces and freeto-use WiFi. READER EVENT Executive PA Magazine readers are invited to Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday 29th September 2017 at 6.30pm for an exclusive black tie awards evening. You will explore the iconic venue’s vast range of facilities before a champagne reception and three courses of exquisite dining at the inaugural The McCoys South West Jump Awards. A one night stay at a 16th century luxury hotel located close by is also available to guests. To apply to attend please visit our website at www.executivepa.com/events-directory/reader-events INFO

www.cheltenham.co.uk JUNE/JULY 2017 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM


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


Meet me in Malta Not many destinations have thousands of years’ experience as a meeting place but the Maltese Islands have welcomed visitors ranging from St. Paul to latter-day presidents and played host to large EU conferences, small groups and everything in between Function venues include state-of-the-art hotels, magnificent castles, palazzos and forts, as well as other special settings like theme parks, village squares, luxury yachts and exclusive sea-front facilities. Last month, Executive PA Media’s PA of the Year 2016 and EA at EY, Debbie Kittle, checked out the glorious destination as part of her award prize. Her six-night stay at the Radisson Blu Resort in St. Julian’s, sponsored by Radisson Blu St. Julian’s, Special Interest Travel Limited (SIT DMC) and Conventions Malta, included an escorted day trip to the island of Gozo, known for its scenic hills, and a visit to St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valetta; the interior of which is considered to be one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture in Europe. Debbie said: “It was a very enjoyable trip – we were met at the airport 54


by a personal driver and checked in to the Radisson in a room overlooking the terrace and one of the pools, and with a glorious sea view. “I’ve never done so much sightseeing on a holiday but it was full of history and interesting facts. We got a private history tour with SIT DMC where we saw the Ggantija Temples; one of the most important archaeological sites in the Maltese Islands and Xlendi Bay, a beautiful village on the seafront with crystal clear waters set between high cliffs. “We also stopped by Dwejra Bay, the location of the famous azure window, and Citadella, Victoria, where we were treated to an almost 360 degree view of the island of Gozo. Talking of which, I’d honestly say the best part was the visit to Gozo and our amazing guide and driver – I absolutely loved it!”

Planning an event in Malta? If you want a local expert to help you create the best experience for your delegates, ensuring you get value for money and the most efficient travel options, Special Interest Travel Limited is on hand to help. With more than 30 years of experience in organising events on the beautiful Mediterranean island, the team boast a brimming little black book of contacts, putting them in a prime position to negotiate with suppliers on your behalf. INFO


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Radisson Blu Resort, St. Julian’s Accessibility: 13.5km from Malta International Airport and 9.6km from Valletta, the Maltese capital Events: Flexible facilities make the hotel ideal for groups and corporate travellers, with space to accommodate 1,500 guests for a large event, or smaller groups in well-equipped meeting rooms Rooms: 252 stylish rooms and suites, all with a balcony or terrace looking onto lovely vistas Cuisine: Four food and drink outlets offer varied dining experiences, from traditional Mediterranean dishes at Le Bistro to prime cuts of meat and fresh fish prepared by master grillers at The Edge Amenities: You’ll find a gym, two outdoor pool decks, an indoor poor and two tennis courts, as well as a boutique spa and wellness centre. INFO


Malta: the facts Currency: The Euro Language: Malti; the Maltese language – however English is also an official language and is the language of international business Climate: Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate, strongly influenced by the sea. Summers are hot, dry and very sunny, spring and autumn are cooler and winters are mild, with occasional cold spells.



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28 - 30 November 2017 Incentives, business travel & meetings expo

Connect with the global meetings, events and incentives industry in 2017





from across the globe, ready to connect with you

to help you plan your future meetings & events

with industry friends & colleagues

to do business, network, learn & be inspired

international industry professionals

exhibitors representing over 150 countries

networking events to connect and engage

global market place for you

Connections mean everything. Connect with us at www.ibtmworld.com

Organised by

ibtm and the ibtm events symbol are trade marks of RELX Intellectual Properties SA, used under license. Hosted Buyer is a trademark of Reed Exhibitions Limited. Reed Travel Exhibitions is a registered trade mark of RELX Group plc.

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Success in Frankfurt The team behind this year’s IMEX said it was defined by positive and highly visual transformations, with innovation radiating throughout the show EVENTS

Almost 9,000 hosted buyers and visitors flocked to Frankfurt for four days of focused business, education, connection and community, culminating in a total of 68,500 appointments between buyers and the show’s 3,500 exhibitors. Following a year of planned improvements to the appointment system, focused on educating buyers about the value of giving exhibitors mini ‘appointment profiles’ in advance, 74 per cent of all buyer/exhibitor appointments were based on an appointment profile; an increase of 42 per cent. Meanwhile, the introduction of EduMonday added event technology, event design certification and business masterclasses to the options available to every single participant. Along with PCMA Business School, Association Day, Exclusively Corporate and ICCA mid-year meetings, a total of 1,500 people took part in the newly integrated programme. IMEX Chairman, Ray Bloom said: “Our intention was to create a truly democratic pre-show education event – with something for everyone regardless of whether they speak German or English or come as an exhibitor, hosted buyer or visitor. This unilateral approach has gone down really well, with several people saying they plan to send their whole teams to the show a day earlier next year to take advantage of EduMonday. The superb feedback from participants indicates this is a strong formula for the future.” E

IMEX feedback... “This was my first IMEX; it was very good – very productive. I was impressed with the amount of time and effort the exhibitors put into their stands: sometimes we don’t know that there are so many hotels and venues out there that can work for our events.”

“Exclusively Corporate has opened up a world of new contacts: it’s really useful to be able to connect with others in a similar position to you. The senior level education stream has enabled me to tailor my education so it truly fits the needs of my business.” Stephanie Lintl-McLean, Fidelity International

“It’s been really beneficial to hear how other companies are handling the same situations to me. They have gone through the trial and error, so I don’t have to!”

“I’m here for the face-to-face, then building the relationships – I think that goes a long way. I can now call them and it will work out much faster; we know where we’re coming from. I got so much from the stand presentations, too – people ask questions I never would have thought of.”

KimMarie Larsen, ASEA

Kristen Basler, Maritz Travel

Virginia Garcia, Banks Sadler



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KAREN GLENN EA to CFO and Vice President of Real Estate at Colt Data Centre Services

Not only does Karen Glenn have colourful career history, she’s also an Executive PA Media Awards runner-up and recently co-founded a rapidly growing PA network. Let’s find out more... What’s your career history? I was offered my first PA role to an HR director back in 2000 and soon realised it was the right path for me. I found I was a natural organiser and loved the variety. After that, I worked for a CEO of a small company and a chief procurement officer for an FMCG company before landing my current role. 60


You seem really passionate about the EA role – tell us more! The variety of those industries and styles of the directors I’ve supported gave me a real insight and helped me understand and evolve with the role. I believe PA skills are transferable so we can work over a mix of sectors: it’s just down to us as indi-

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viduals to ensure our own personal values work in tandem with the companies we work within and the people we support. PA and EA roles are great career choices. You can work for some really senior and influential people and, if you get the right company and boss, it really becomes a role that you can mould and it’ll be extremely rewarding.

You support two people – how does that work for you? Both have totally different priorities, and completely different working styles. The most important thing for me is ensuring I don’t neglect either of them in favour of the other one, and remain mindful of what they have coming up.

What is the working environment like? This is probably the most flexible employer I’ve had to date. We can work from home two days per week – or more if required – as our IT systems, internal portals and equipment are all accessible from site-to-site, and anywhere in the world. We recently introduced meetings on the go. This means we’re not tied to office-based meetings: instead, we think of the best venue for that particular get-together. Sometimes we’ll do it outside; taking a walk around the block or to the local coffee shop. Other times we just move around the building to promote interaction with other teams. Technology plays a big part in this too, with Skype and FaceTime popular meeting options. We also recently instigated something called Challenger Culture. When Colt was founded 25 years ago it was known as the Challenger, as it did things differently – now, we want to bring this brand back. There’s a monthly award for the individual within each function who is demonstrating the Challenger Culture, and we’ve got an entrepreneurship initative on the go too: a think tank that’ll deliver on our big ideas.

And what about work/life balance? When I’m on leave, I have a great team of PAs that can cover my work – this means I can really switch off, re-engergise and recuperate. Our line managers are great at actively discouraging us from logging into emails whilst we are on holiday!

What’s the most important things you’ve learned about being a PA? 1 Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: you’ll learn from them. Own up and don’t make excuses. 1 Don’t get involved in office gossip about your boss: it’ll tarnish your credibility. 1 Create your own network: it’ll be a great support.

One of the first things we did was agree a name and what we wanted out of the network – we wanted to welcome PAs, EAs, administrators and office managers, as well as anyone aspiring to get into a PA role. Then it went from there. Whilst we created our first event we started some social media promotion to get local PAs talking. We ran three events last year and had our first for 2017 – focused on mental health – last month. It’s still early days but we’re proud of our little network – we get up to 50 people at each event. Like anything new, we’ve been learning as we go along, getting valuable advice from other PAs and EAs who run networks.

What’s your favourite thing about working for Colt? Coordinating key diary engagements can prove tricky taking into account the different time zones, but we love a challenge. Interacting with colleagues from different cultures and countries means you get to pick up a lot of information on how the business operates at local levels.

You were a runner-up for an Executive PA Media Event of the Year Award in 2015 – how did this accolade make you feel? It’s been a huge honour to be recognised by an external body. I was humbled to have even made it to the finalist stage! When I picked up the award in 2015, my line manager at the time was extremely proud of me.

You recently co-founded a PA network – how did that come about? NESS (Network for Essex Support Staff) has been running for just over a year. It came about via a conversation on Facebook about the lack of a local network and, after meeting up with Julia Robertson Avenell, we realised we’d both considered setting something up but didn’t want to do it alone. We had so many ideas but knew we needed to learn to walk before we could run.

What advice would you give others thinking about starting their own local network? Speak to others who are already doing it and find out how they went about it. Be prepared – and remember you’ll have times when you question whether it’s worth it, but you need to stick with it. You also need to be sure what you want it to be about – with NESS we wanted to give something back in a safe environment: we encourage our members to be involved – if they want to speak at an event, then great! It’s enhanced my professional development too. It connected me and my co-founder – Julia and I are so supportive of each other. And it’s helped us learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to networking opportunities, as well as giving us a chance to develop our own connections and meeting others we can learn from. E

Colt Data Centre Services Colt House, 20 Great Eastern Street, London, EC24 3EH Number of employees: 300 www.coltdatacentres.net



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The ladder of opportunity Apprenticeships aren’t just a fantastic opportunity for those undertaking them – this new career route, which could transform the support staff recruitment process, can be an excellent form of personal development for experienced EAs, says Elizabeth Wakeling TRAINING

The entry route to becoming a PA hasn’t changed much in the past decade, apart from the fact that, due to current funding mechanisms, there are fewer courses offered by local colleges and training providers. Traditionally, young people entered the profession via a vocational route, starting as office juniors and working their way up. Employers looked for a good standard of general education, including GCSEs in English and maths, with maybe a recognised qualification (often RSA or Pitman) in office skills – or, alternatively, a secretarial diploma. In addition, many companies considered experience and personality just as important as qualifications. Now, apprenticeships have become one of the main entry routes, providing young people with the opportunity to earn and learn simultaneously. They’re available to school leavers or young people aged between 16 and 24, providing an alternative to further education. These work-based qualifications combine fulltime employment and off-site training. It’s all about working with experienced staff who teach apprentices the ins and outs of a profession, combining practical onthe-job learning with a theoretical basis at college, or a training organisation. But did you know that experienced PAs can also benefit, in terms of personal development? You could supervise an 62


apprentice, helping them become competent in their work. Sasha Covington, associate director and business manager at JLL, a financial and professional services firm, is responsible for overseeing PAs, team coordinators and surveyor executives. She has managed five apprentices over the past three years. She says: “Apprenticeships provide a ladder of opportunity at whatever level you are; they provide learning opportunities to expand and enrich your career both personally and professionally.” JLL launched its apprentice scheme in 2013, acknowledging the wealth of enthusiastic school leavers who needed the opportunity to take their first step on the employment pathway. Sasha continues: “We engaged with the City of London Apprenticeship Scheme and CSTT to recruit apprentices for surveying, finance, business administration, IT and HR to work with teams nationwide. Four years on, we continue to recruit apprentices for 12-month programmes, with the opportunity for it to develop into a full-time position within JLL.” We often think the longer we work, the more we know and the less we need to learn. But PAs and their businesses can get a valuable fresh perspective from those just entering their careers, bringing new skills and different experience.

“At JLL we continually upskill and train our apprentices,” says Sasha. “They have a very strong network and work together as a team. As the new apprentices arrive, they’re all given a buddy to guide them through the year, along with their supervisor. Of course, they’re treated the same as any other employee.” Coaching and mentoring is a two-way process: the apprentice learns from working with experienced staff but PAs can learn from them too: known as reverse mentoring, this powerful technique is advocated at JLL. So, what happens when the apprenticeship is over? “Our hope is that it leads to a successful career within the company,” says Sasha. “We actively try to place all our apprentices in roles after their time with us, although in some cases they decide to go on to further education to gain higher level qualifications.” E

Elizabeth Wakeling is a Business Administration Lecturer with over 25 years’ teaching experience. She is Principal Tutor and Head of Secretarial Studies at Beckenham College and UK Chairman of International Management Assistants (IMA), the leading professional association for Management and Personal Assistants across Europe, formerly known as EUMA. INFO www.ima-network.org

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My apprenticeship role Sasha Covington, JLL London I’m a passionate ambassador of grass roots training for young adults. The scheme JLL offers is exceptional and taking the time to educate and train the younger workforce is beneficial to us: we see apprenticeships as highly valuable to the business. They give young people a chance on the job, teaching them about the business and helping them on the transition from school to working environment. There’s a sense that vocational work and an apprenticeship scheme cannot match a degree, but I completely disagree: the landscape has now shifted and apprentices are transforming how we hire support staff. My background followed a similar route. I left school at 16 with nine GCSEs, including office and typing practice, which served me well as I was offered the role of office junior at my first interview. I worked my way up to being PA to two directors. I was coached and trained by their senior PA who taught me how to audio type by reading the newspaper to me every day. She taught me shorthand, how to take minutes, how to speak to clients and guests, and even how to expertly fold a letter! This style of ‘on-the-job’ training and mentoring gave me the skills and confidence to progress up the career ladder. When I joined JLL I started as a team secretary and, with a similar style of training and mentoring, I’ve progressed to the level of associate director and business manager for the professional advisory team, managing a team of nine. Since the start of the apprenticeship programme, I’ve been actively involved and have managed five apprentices in the past three years; all of whom have done exceptionally well. Two have been permanently placed internally as team secretaries, one returned to education and we’re hoping to find our current apprentice a permanent role after her NVQ. Supervising the programme has given me a wealth of learning opportunities, from developing different skills, from facilitating on-the-job learning to gaining a deeper understanding of qualifications, assessments and mentoring skills, as well as learning how to support and encourage young people wishing to embark on a PA career. I’m immensely proud to have enabled our apprentices to start climbing the ladder and have shared in their successes. We were especially pleased when one of our apprentices, 18-year-old Georgia Jenkins, was joint runner-up for the Executive PA Media Up and Coming PA of the Year Award – a fantastic example of how apprenticeships can be the first step on the ladder of opportunity.



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Apprenticeships for the experienced PA

Johan Thomsen, of Instructus, explains how business apprenticeships can be of benefit to both you and the organisation you work for You may have seen news about the reforms to UK apprenticeships, involving changes to funding and how they’re assessed. In a nutshell, funding now comes from a levy on businesses with a payroll turnover of more than £3 million, and apprentices can only achieve their certification after end-point assessment. As an experienced PA, you may wonder how apprenticeships are relevant to your role. Well, one of the most popular apprenticeship areas in the UK is business administration, with more than 127,000 undertaken since 2012. In addition, a higher (level four) apprenticeship is aimed at those already working in a business administration environment, who are likely to have responsibility for other workers and resources. This course helps to improve your administration skills whilst enhancing and expanding abilities, ultimately helping you excel in roles like office manager, administration team leader, PA and business development executive. To gain entry, candidates are required to have at least a level two prior attainment, which constitutes five GCSEs, graded between A and C. Those aiming to get on the higher level apprenticeship will likely be working in a middle/senior role, and will have already completed a level three business administration apprenticeship. However, there are exceptions for employees

Johan Thomsen is the business development manager at Instructus (formerly Skills CfA), a provider of lifelong learning, training and consultancy to upskill the UK workforce in business skills. It has successfully developed National Vocational Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, apprenticeships and National Occupational Standards (NOS) for more than 20 years. INFO






It’s not just you who benefits from taking an apprenticeship: your business will, too. Research shows the average apprenticeship improves productivity by £214 per week, reduces staff turnover and increases employee satisfaction. And offering apprenticeships is great recruitment tool, whilst developing existing staff can help tackle skill shortages. who have at least two years’ worth of experience – and this is at the discretion of your employer and training provider. For many busy PAs, the hectic/worklife balance can mean development and further education falls down the priority list – but apprenticeships are work-based qualifications. This means you continue to work full-time, but 20 per cent of your time is spent off-site, or on training. One of the advantages of taking an apprenticeship is that it gives you scope in your future career by teaching a range of skills. For example, within the level four business apprenticeship you could be studying some of the following:

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Event management Professional development Designing processes How to develop working relationships with stakeholders Planning and development Team learning and development Managing individual and team performance Marketing, IT and finance

A level four course will take somewhere between a year to fifteen months to complete and, upon completion, further management qualifications are also available to further enhance your skills. E

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Apprenticeships – a missed opportunity? With a rise in the number of vocational routes into employment, we asked young people about their attitudes towards apprenticeships, says Simon Moffatt, human resources director at Prudential’s UK insurance business. While traditional attitudes are certainly changing, some misconceptions still exist… Our research shows that 46 per cent of 16-18-year-olds now disagree that apprenticeships should be seen as second best to University. However, nearly half of school leavers admit to not knowing which apprenticeship opportunities are on offer and nearly two thirds believe most of these are in sectors characterised by largely male workforces, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. The research also shows that, despite the inclusive and diverse range of apprenticeships available today, just over half of male school leavers think most apprenticeship opportunities involve manual labour, while 61 per cent of female students think opportunities for women are in stereotypical female roles like nursing, health & beauty and childcare. But this is not the case. The reality is

“As the boss’ right-hand person, you’re in a prime position to ensure your company is putting out the right messages.”

that, with government policy driving wide-spread adoption, apprenticeships are now available in 1,500 job roles in more than 170 industries, from advertising to youth work and environmental engineering to the legal sector. This disconnect highlights the difficulties faced when promoting the wide ranging apprenticeship opportunities that are now on offer and, as the boss’ right-hand person, you’re in a prime position to ensure your company is put-

ting out the right messages. Communication is vitally important. Ensure your company’s apprenticeship is well-promoted to young people: work collaboratively with education providers and the government, and use your own resources, too. Internal communication channels, for example, will engage employees who are highly likely to know potential applicants in the local community. In the finance industry, Prudential’s own apprenticeship programme has been running for four years. During this time, we’ve recruited 199 young people to our work-based training programme, which offers young people opportunities across a wide range of departments, from IT to HR, customer services, operations, sales support and financial planning. Over the longer-term, the quality of the training provided and the overall experience of the young people who

complete them will go a long way to helping to demonstrate the true value of modern day apprenticeships. In the meantime, the government, industry, schools and parents all have a responsibility to work together to ensure that young people have access to relevant and up-to-date information about all of the routes into employment, including apprenticeships, to help them access the most appropriate training to succeed in their chosen career. E

Simon Moffatt is the HR director (insurance) at Prudential UK & Europe. Prudential was founded in London in 1848 and today its UK business still serves the saving and retirement needs of the country’s population, employing nearly 5,000 people across three main sites.



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All the career news and advice executive-level PAs need

The best PAs transcend KPIs Perhaps there was a time when key performance indicators for employees were useful, but KPI-happy organisations that contrive dubious scorecards for every employee have rendered these measurements meaningless. The purpose of KPIs and roundly despised performance reviews, according to one guide, is to “help employees know how they have been doing and what further development or training they need to do to improve.” The guide goes on: “Objectives give employees focus and appraisals make them feel that their good work is recognised. You can also discuss any weaknesses or problems and identify solutions together.” Other than points for comedic value, such HR puffery deserves the scorn it attracts from disgruntled employees. Happily, many organisations are now reconsidering the merits of performance

reviews. Employees have long resented them as a time-wasting pro forma exercise whose only purpose is to confirm that there will be no pay rise next year. Employees don’t want artificial ‘one-onones’ with their manager. They want the real thing: managers that communicate effectively and honestly with their staff; who encourage as well as provide feedback; who nurture, engage and motivate staff; who praise as well counsel. Managers unable to provide this level of communication are the ones who should be sent on training courses. Performance reviews are at their most ridiculous when applied to EAs for two excellent reasons. Firstly, executives and their PAs spend so much time together: if a formal performance review is considered necessary, the relationship is very likely in trouble. Secondly, at its most successful the relationship between executive and PA

is almost organic: the fusing of two talented, confident and mutually loyal personalities into a dynamic partnership. There is only one KPI that matters here, and that is that each party knows that the partnership is either working or it is not. Performance reviews fail because they’re inherently artificial and inauthentic. In practice, if not by design, they have come to take the place of honest communication and natural workplace interactions. Performance reviews ostensibly represent empathy, trust and care, but they only mimic these attributes. For the real thing, look no further than the relationship between executive and PA. Leo D’Angelo Fisher is a business journalist, author and commentator, and was former associate editor with BRW. INFO

Twitter: @DAngeloFisher

‘Sedate’ pay rises of sub-three per cent for most Sixty-five per cent of employers will give their staff a pay rise of up to 3 per cent in their next review, but 11 per cent will not increase salaries at all, according to the 2017 Hays Salary Guide, which was released this month.

“Compared to last year, the demand for PAs at all levels has increased, especially for top-level senior EAs.”

The report also shows that 19 per cent of employers intend to award a salary increase of between 3 and 6 per cent. Meanwhile, just 5 per cent of employers will increase salaries at the higher level of more than 6 per cent. EAs and PAs in the IT & telecommuni66


cations industry top the list of those who could expect the most generous increases, with 20 per cent of employers in this industry intending to award salary increases of 6 per cent or more. Advertising & media employers have also become more generous, with 16 per cent expected to increase salaries above 6 per cent. The Hays Salary Guide also highlights that permanent and contract positions have increased for EAs and PAs in the private sector, while there is consistently high demand for temporary staff in the public sector. In the private sector, employers are increasingly seeking candidates from similar industry backgrounds. For example, banks seek candidates from financial backgrounds and law firms want candidates with legal experience. These candidates tend to be paid the highest, especially if coming from a competitor. Compared to last year, the demand for

PAs at all levels has increased, especially for top-level senior EAs. Roles supporting multiple partners or an entire executive team are also more common. These roles can be less appealing to jobseekers though, who prefer a one-to-one support position at C-suite level. In other trends, and given technological advances, many executives are more selfsufficient and don’t require as much support as in the past. EA positions therefore are becoming less traditional and more project-based, assisting with ad-hoc events, functions or other business related projects. INFO Get your copy of the 2017 Hays Salary Guide by visiting www.hays.com.au/salary

Alex Jones is senior regional director at Hays Office Support

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