So, here we are in the middle of a global pandemic and I’m on cloud nine. The wonderful news that Elite PA Solutions have made it to the finals for not one, but two VA industry awards. It is truly incredible and I’m very grateful to everyone who has played their part in supporting me to where I am today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I’ve always felt incredibly honoured to be a part of the VA industry – an industry that is collaborative, supportive, and made up of awesome PAs who do what we’ve always done, as PAs. We give back time for you to focus on your priorities, goals, and what you do best! In my business, I firmly believe that the level of support we provide is no different than that of when we were office-based PAs. Our virtual location does not hindered our ability to meet your needs.
Following the recent announcements that I’m a finalists I cannot help but smile. For many years I’ve been too scared to put myself out there and merrily did what I did every day as I loved supporting my clients – I still do! However, as my business has grown, I love nothing more than identifying, onboarding, and mentoring new associates who I feel share my core values as a business. It fills me with joy when a new client comes to us with their list of how they’d like their life to be. I listen, question and truly understand their requirements, business and goals before I then personally match the right virtual PA to provide them with a dedicated solution, not a generic one. As a team, we are focussed on building long-term relationships, ensuring client satisfaction is fulfilled and our clients have continuous peace of mind.
Independent VA of the Year
In January I entered ‘Independent VA of the Year’ for the West Midlands PA Awards 2020, hearing I had been shortlisted, blew me away. My heart was in my mouth as I read the email announcement back in February – I’d done it, I’d been shortlisted!
All five finalists were announced mid-August, following this was a panel interview with Helen and Hannah (two previous winners themselves), and Caroline Wylie from The Society of Virtual Assistants. The experience of a panel interview was a first for me, having never entered before – I was seriously pacing the corridor beforehand! Once we started on Zoom, I soon relaxed and found myself talking a lot at great speed. The final stage in the awards process will be for the four remaining finalists to take part in a second-panel interview on the 27th October with a new panel of judges, including Lucy Brazier (Executive Secretary Magazine) and Chris Peacock (Conference Care). Over the coming days, I’ll be preparing my presentation around my achievements in 2019 and my answer to just one question…..”Why should you win this Award?”.
The winner will then be announced live at a virtual Awards Nights on 25 November. How exciting, I’ll be dressing up for that Zoom event! How we’ll pass the time between the 27 October and 25 November, I have no idea. Any tips gratefully received! I know the suspense leading up to the Awards night will be off the scale…and breathe.
VA of the Year 2020, West Midlands Region
I’ll be honest, being shortlisted for the PA Forum Award most definitely gave me the confidence to enter The UK VA Awards ‘VA of the Year 2020, West Midlands’ in May. I live my life very much one stage at a time, so decided, I had nothing to lose and that each stage, regardless of the final outcome, is an accomplishment. Being shortlisted was an achievement in itself, hearing that I was then worthy of being a Finalist was incredible.
The deserved winner of this regional award will automatically take their regional title through to the Awards for England VA of the Year 2020. WOW, just WOW! The winner for England will be announced on 30 November 2020 and the final stage is the National Awards including winners from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the overall winner being announced as part of the UK VA Conference scheduled to be staged in two parts online on 3 March and 13 May 2021.
Back to the regional award! The talent within each region in the UK is outstanding and, that includes the West Midlands. To think, I’m at the point of waiting patiently for the Regional winner for The UK VA Awards to be announced on Monday 2 November makes me tingle with pride. Reaching this point is very rewarding not just for me personally, but for each and every member of our team. They each work incredibly hard to provide a premium level of service to our clients and do so seamlessly, bringing their own personalities, dedication, and commitment to each piece of work they deliver on behalf of Elite PA Solutions.
My journey to Finalist
When I look back over my journey which all started with my need to work flexibly and raise my daughters. I started as a one-woman band on a part-time basis back in 2012 whilst continuing to work part-time as an employee. By mid-2014, I waved adios to my employed role and working two jobs, day and night, and took a massive leap of faith to work full time in my business. As a single parent since 2008, and not naturally a risk-taker, I believed that with a lot of hard work, sheer determination, and routine for my girls, my business could succeed. Failure wasn’t an option, and neither was going back to a long commute!
Our life needed flexibility and my years of experience, love for my job as an Executive Assistant within a worldwide professional services firm definitely gave me a solid foundation in client onboarding and management and the importance of systems and processes to start my business journey. I held on tightly, reminded myself regularly that I could do it, and started to offer my services as a virtual PA providing virtual business support to a variety of independent directors, small professional service firms, and business owners. Initially, my clients were based in London and today they’re across the UK and from a variety of industry sectors. For many years, I wore all the hats associated with being a small business! In 2017, with too much work to cope with alone, I had a decision to make – stay as I was, or grow. I chose ‘grow’ and with that started onboarding associates to work under my umbrella of Elite PA Solutions.
I’m so happy and incredibly grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received throughout my journey both personally and professionally. There’s been so many of you cheering me on from the sidelines and some of you have been right up behind me at times giving me the push I needed. Making it to this point of Finalist in two awards in 2020 is truly incredible and I’m super proud of my business, my team, and my daughters who remind me A LOT to be confident, stand tall, and breathe. I know, role reversal in full play!
In business, as in life, every day is a learning day and I’m grateful to have a network of amazing clients, colleagues, collaborators, ambassadors, mentors, coaches, and friends all in my corner.
Thank you for reading, cloud nine is an awesome feeling.