You can’t put a price on experience, but a celebrity PA can apply her knowledge to help other PAs deal with their own bosses in all different industry sectors. Nicole Holgate finds out how. PA Access All Areas launched in 2012, delivering training to assistants at all stages of their careers. Using their combined 25 years’ experience as celebrity PAs, Josephine Green and Merryl Futerman share the skills and strategies they have learnt at the ‘sharp end’ and offer practical ways to support powerful people.
As working PAs they are only too aware of the daily demands and ever-changing nature of the role, and aim to empower delegates in their own UK careers. Course content focuses on encouraging interpersonal skills and developing the relationship between PA and executive. Topics covered include recognising and managing the key characteristics of your boss, creating a support network, setting boundaries and practical problem solving.
The course is run as a half-day boutique seminar with a choice of afternoon or after-work sessions. It is held at a members’ only club in London for a maximum of 10 attendees, who benefit from the intimate environment and the interactive style. It also offers in-house courses for groups from eight to 60. These can be a half day, full day or one-hour ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions and can be tailored to individual specifications.
The material is suitable for PAs of all levels and includes practical tools to take away. PA Access All Areas invites you to come behind the scenes and see how being a PA to a celebrity is not that different from supporting leaders in every type of industry.
TRIED AND TESTED
Leigh Evans is EA to the Chief Executive & Chair of the New Covent Garden Market Authority. She took part in a PA Access All Areas evening course with seven other participants who were all of different levels and backgrounds.
Leigh found the session great fun. Merryl and Josephine first of all took the assembled PAs through scenarios they had dealt with in their own working lives – “some were extreme,” says Leigh – in order to discuss the best responses to difficult situations. The course is not about who has faced the most trying boss, but the best way to approach and solve problems. She comments that as everyone was from a different sector insights were quite varied. “It was a light-hearted discussion, but [Merryl and Josephine] also took the topic very seriously,” she continues.
The open nature of the seminar also helped get the attendees involved, so that instead of being given instructions everyone came up with their own solutions. “The ideas were really flowing,” says Leigh. “They managed to involve everybody and it was a great atmosphere.” She admits that she had been feeling lacklustre about her career at the time, but the pair’s professionalism gave her back the “oomph” she was looking for to get her back on track. “I needed to be reminded of my skills and abilities,” she adds. “It gave me back my enthusiasm.”
Although Leigh paid for the course, she feels it would be an excellent way for companies to support their PAs. She took away a lot of new ideas that have now become habit in her working life. She also makes better use of LinkedIn and feels more able to ask other PAs for advice.
She concludes it would be an excellent starter course for people who want to enter the profession, as well as for established workers looking for new ideas.
The next boutique course will run on 5 February 2014, costing £175 per delegate, including all materials and refreshments. For more information, visit PAAccessAllAreas.co.uk