As someone born and bred in Essex I am so pleased that we have a network connecting PAs in the area. Here are all the details from the founders, Karen and Julia… 

Firstly, can I have a little background about you…

What is your career background? 

We are both experienced PA’s who also give our time as volunteers in our communities (Karen as Youth Leader for a local community Youth group in Essex and Jules as Relief Manager at Hamelin Trust retail).   We both live in Essex and whilst we both work for large corporate businesses, Julia works in Essex and Karen works in the City of London

Aside from the network, what have been your career highlights to date? Both founders are award winnings PAs with awards that include Hays PA of the Year, Senior Admin of the Year, Executive PA-Best Organised Event, We are the City Rising Star award as well as reaching the final places for another UK award.

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

Seek out a mentor and join a professional organisation and relevant networks.

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

Don’t take it personally and don’t give up.

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

A mobile phone

 Inside Ness - the Network for Essex Support Staff

About the network…

What made you decide to set up the network?

Essex has been lacking a network, the odd one or two have popped up over the past few years, but they for various reasons fallen by the wayside.  NESS was created with an intervention from Victoria Darragh on Facebook who suggested that we get together and create a new network.  We are both passionate about the role and had similar goals for the network, so after some excited messages back and forth to each other NESS was born.

What are the objectives of the network?

The objective of the network is for the admin support staff in Essex to connect with each other regardless of what level they are at within their respective careers, with the aim for each person to develop and grow and share their knowledge and experiences. In our experience, when you reach out to others and ask for advice or support, you will be surprised at how much assistance you can get from others in the network or in similar roles.

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

The initial reaction was great – we received a lot of support from the PA industry and members of professional organisations who spurred us on.  The sponsor of our launch was Fennes of Braintree and our host Karis Parker was incredible – nothing was too much trouble.

Inside Ness - the Network for Essex Support Staff

How did you promote the network?

We used all social media platforms to advertise the event and the network itself.  We had the support of industry speakers and professional publications who were keen to make this a success for the Essex region.  We are both members of PA/EA specific organisations and networked with our peers to advertise the launch, and will continue to network at events and training seminars to gain members, speakers and contributors to the success of the group.

Do you have advisor’s / board members / mentors that have helped with the network?

Being the new kids on the block, we haven’t a board at the moment – although other networks have been extremely supportive of us and have offered some great advice.  It’s still early days for NESS and we are still learning – but we have some great long-term plans for the network.

How do you engage with your members?

We use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and email to engage with our members.  As the network grows and becomes more established, we will review what other channels we could use and what our members would like to hear about from us.

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

That the chosen career path is not a profession!  Networking encourages you to engage with your peers, encourages training and improves your confidence and helps you to grow and develop both personally and professionally.

Have you personally met any challenges with running the network?

We have been fortunate that we have had amazing support from the industry.

What has been the highlight for the network so far?

Having the CEO of EPAA (Victoria Darragh) speak at our launch

Network details…

Name: NESS

Location: Essex

LinkedIn Group: NESS – The Essex PA Network

Twitter: @SSEN2016

Facebook: NESS – Network for Essex Support Staff


The next NESS event will be on the 8th December at Boreham House. For more details, check out the NESS Facebook page or the Eventbrite page.

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