Inside the Guernsey PA Network

Firstly, can I have a little background about you…

What is your career background?

I started my working life as a Chef. When I left Catering College it was obvious to me that I wanted something with more regular hours.

The hotel where I was working part time to obtain my catering qualification asked me to stay on. When I told them what I was looking for, they asked me to become the receptionist. After a few years of becoming their Head Receptionist and not learning anything new I was ready for a new challenge. I came across a role for a Doctor’s PA and this gave me my first taste of a PA role. I stayed there for four years.

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Inside the Peterborough PA Network

Next up in our series of blog posts about regional PA networks, we have the Peterborough PA network. Launched by Bethany Fovargue in 2013 this network has gone from strength to strength and Bethany is now asked to speak and promote the role of assistants all over the world. 

Firstly, can I have a little background about you…

What is your career background?

I left primary teaching in June 2011 and started at Data Interchange as an Office Administrator shortly afterwards. I have recently changed roles, becoming EA to the Commercial Director at Data Interchange. My new role is exciting; I am supporting the Commercial Director, working on new projects for the business and in areas such as marketing and with our partners, so I have some new challenges ahead!

Aside from the network, what have been your career highlights to date?

Coming runner up for the Hays/Executive PA Magazine awards for Newcomer of the Year 2012 started my journey into becoming a career PA. The confidence I gained from the recognition has led me to set up my own network, the Peterborough PA Network, from which I have had some amazing opportunities, the most recent of which is becoming a Non-Executive Director at EPAA, the Executive and Personal Assistant’s Association, which launched in January 2016.

What piece of advice would you give assistants coming into the profession today?

Get stuck in…which is a polite way of saying, “get over yourself!”. Don’t be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, or to come second (or third, or…). Who knows what opportunities are just around the corner – get stuck in!

What piece of advice would you give your younger self at the beginning of your career?

Accept when it’s not a good career match – I wish that I had left teaching earlier than I did, without feeling like I had failed.

What piece of technology or app can you not live without?


About the network…

What made you decide to set up the network?

I am the only PA in our company – I wanted to network with like-minded people, as this is my first office job, but noticed that the majority of the events were London-based.

What are the objectives of the network?

The Peterborough PA network aims to share knowledge, experience and best practice. This is an opportunity to develop your own network of contacts as well as pick up tips, recommendations and represent your company to others. There is no cost for the seminars and we pride ourselves on having had local support since April 2013.

What was the initial reaction and what does the network look like today?

We launched in April 2013, with presentations from Hays, the APA and Gail Thomas, a delegation expert, to around 25 Admin professionals. We received great feedback and still see those 25 faces, but now have a mailing list of around 280 and continue to go from strength to strength.

How did you promote the network?

We use Twitter and LinkedIn – Peterborough PA Network group.

Do you have advisor’s / board members / mentors that have helped with the network? Who are they and what did they contribute?

Jan Bradshaw, of Hays Office Support, is my co-founder, helping me to pull the events together, provide our delegates with goody bags and welcome our guests when I’m quivering in a corner with nerves!

What challenges do you think assistants within your network face and how do you think the network helps?

Peterborough has a large number of SMEs, which often means that you can be the sole administrative professional in your office. Our network provides opportunities for support and sharing of best practices, creating a network of “colleagues” across the city!

Have you personally met any challenges with running the network?

Running the network has only brought positive challenges, the largest of which I would say is honing my negotiation skills in order to keep the events free for our members!

What has been the highlight for the network so far?

Securing the regional launch of EPAA in March 2016 – we can’t wait to support this national initiative!

Network details…

Name: Peterborough PA Network
Location: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
LinkedIn Group: Peterborough PA Network
Twitter: @PboroPA

Inside the Peterborough PA Network

Inside the Edinburgh PA Network

One of the reasons I started Practically Perfect PA back in 2011 was because I wanted to create an online community for assistants. A place to come, learn and realise that there was at least one other PA that felt the same way you did and was facing the same every day issues you were (and some of the triumphs too!) Jump forward nearly five years – where the heck has that time gone!??! – and things have certainly changed. Over the last few years there are plenty more online communities and in more recent times we have taken networking to a whole new level with local networks, organised by assistants, springing up all over the place. It is brilliant! Meeting other assistants who work near by, who share the same suppliers, hotels, restaurants etc. is great and obviously getting to hang out with people that understand the job – well that is invaluable. I thought it would be great if we had a little space on Practically Perfect PA dedicated to these awesome networks and I thought it would be even better if we found out a little more about the assistants who start up the groups. First up we have the Edinburgh PA Network. The networking was established by Sherien Ahmed, Sally Lloyd and Amy Smith… Here is everything you need to know…. 

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Are you a networked PA?

The word networking can strike fear, horror and / or joy into the best of us. Networking is without a doubt a valuable skill set and resource tool but for many it can involve going outside our comfort zone when confronted with the notion of chatting to a complete stranger.

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Networking with ACE Connects

Back in November I had the pleasure of speaking to 50 assistants who were attending a networking event organised by ACE (Assistant Community EMEA), an internal networking group set up by assistants at BlackRock. I must say I was completely bowled over by the event, which is not something I have often said about networking events for assistants!

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EIBTM and getting out of the office

Last week I attended EIBTM in Barcelona. It is a huge exhibition and conference for the events industry. There are hundreds and hundreds of exhibitions and the same number of training sessions taking place over the three days. Here is a little picture I took of the show to give you an idea of the scale… this shows only a quarter of the show!

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