In 2012, my colleague Victoria Norris and I had identified that the PA role was changing; an evolution was taking place and the tangible impact of a PA on all aspects of business was worth sharing, supporting and profiling and as a result, we set about creating the Norwich PA Network.
There was one problem; we didn’t know where or how to start, or what a network really is. So we started with Google (and a cup of tea) as we started to research into “networking” and we were soon educated in the meaning of the word – a socioeconomic business activity by which groups of like-minded professional people recognise, create, or act upon business opportunities.
To help us identify a starting point for our network we reached out to Bethany Fovargue, Founder of the Peterborough PA Network. Bethany invited us to attend one of her networking events, where we were fortunate enough to be an inclusive part of a well-established network.
With thanks to Bethany, Victoria and I were then able to reach out to all our own PA contacts with an outline of what we were planning to do and why we wanted to create the network. We worked hard to spread the word as we established our presence. Face-to-face conversations, emails, calls, texts, tweets and all possible communication channels went into overdrive as we prepared to launch.
The response was overwhelming. More than 50 professionals from a wide range of local enterprises signed up to join. It felt like complete lunacy; we were simply two PAs with a passion for what we did and here we were creating a buzz. The local paper ran an article, we launched a Twitter account (@PANorwich) and a Facebook page and all of a sudden everyone was waiting for our next move.
We quickly established a logo with local designer Terry Symonds. We reached out to Executips, a networking and information-sharing tool for PAs, who kindly agreed to support the launch, along with local training supplier Jarrold Training, who generously came to speak and contribute to the launch event by running a short profiling session. We even managed to secure five complimentary e-learning sessions from Reed Accountancy as prizes for the day.
The launch was an unpredictable success and we soon realised we had directly contributed to the growing realisation that PAs are now invaluable assets to any organisation.
Two years on from the Norwich launch, I am ready to do it again. Having since secured employment in London, I would like to start putting the wheels in motion for a new network in the city’s N1C area. You might think it’s madness, but it’s actually rewarding. We all work without specific direction and often from a blank page on a daily basis, making effective, knowledge-based decisions to lead and manage others. Building a network is the same principle – we can all do it and I plan to do it again.
Although the evolution of our job now comes with complex leadership and responsibility, I believe the transformation of the PA role is becoming more transparent and comprehensive. The repertoire of a modern-day PA is that of a future global leader that will continue to evolve. I, for one, plan to be a part of it.
Emily Mills is Executive Assistant & Team Supervisor at Computer Sciences Corporation and Co-Founder of the Norwich PA Network. She is starting a new network in London’s N1C area. To register your interest, email her at email@example.com, or follow the network on Twitter @NetworkN1c
Are you interested in launching a PA network in your local area? PA Life can help you:
• Gain access to PAs in your area
• Promote your network via our social media channels
• Give your network exposure within PA Life
For more information, or to take part, contact Katy Phillips now at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01992 374050