PA Awards Blog

Angela Croad – PA Awards 2019 (Experience Blog)

I was first informed of my nomination for the PA Awards 2019 back in February 2019, and was asked to complete my application form which I did with excitement and pride.

I received notification that my application had been accepted and was invited to take part in a telephone interview as the next stage of the process.

Before the telephone interview day arrived, I was invited to and attended a PA Awards Event at the Bank in Birmingham, and had a wonderful evening meeting and chatting to the other equally excited nominees. The sponsors and committee members involved were lovely, helping to make the whole process such a success, not to mention the one and only Daniel Skermer who lives and breathes the PA Awards and made everyone feel so welcome and special. The atmosphere and buzz about the place was truly amazing.

Leading up to the telephone interviews, I was supplied with questions that I was able to prepare answers for and I have to say, although of course the nerves are inevitable, the panel of Judges were absolutely brilliant and put me at ease instantly, turning the interview into a warm, friendly chat. They genuinely just wanted to know more about me and why I loved doing what I do so much.

I was super excited to discover, a few days later, that I had made it through to the next round which was the face to face interviews. The nerves went up a notch at this point but again, I was supplied with questions in advance of the interview and so I got to work on preparing my answers. Throughout the whole process, Daniel was keeping me and the other nominees informed of any updates in relation to the process and always took the time to remind us just how amazing we had done to get this far.

On the day of the face to face interviews I was really nervous but again, from the moment I arrived at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Birmingham, Daniel was there to greet us all with a reassurance that everything was ok and we were all going to be fine. All the nominees were chatting together and we were all just genuinely happy to be a part of this amazing process.

My time came to go before the Judges and I have to say, they were simply sensational. They took the time to put me at ease and wanted me to feel as relaxed and as comfortable as possible. It was nowhere near as scary as I expected it to be. The 15 minutes absolutely flew by and I came out of the room to a sea of smiling faces asking me ‘what was it like?’ to which I replied, ‘they were just lovely, honestly they are so nice’.

That was it…….. all the preparation and hard work was over, I could do no more but look forward to the main event – The PA Awards 2019!!

But wait…….. yet another treat!! Prior to the Awards night, I was invited to and attended an event at John Lewis in Solihull where we were treated to a night of fashion, make up and all round gorgeousness!! This was another opportunity to meet up with our fellow nominees and celebrate just how far we had come! Another successful evening!

The big night itself arrived and it was fabulous! Glitz and glamour! Everyone looked incredible. The atmosphere was electric and you could feel the excitement in the room. It was like a night at the Oscars!

The whole process from start to finish was truly amazing and I am so grateful and proud that I was able to be a part of it. I will never forget this incredible experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of nominating someone else or nominating themselves. Everyone should experience this amazing feeling at least once!

I loved it!!

Fiona Burlow – PA Awards 2019 (Experience Blog)

I submitted my application for Birmingham PA of the Year whilst in Venice on my honeymoon. This was the second year of the Birmingham PA Awards but as it was the first year that Eversheds Sutherland had been invited to enter nominees, I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity. The PA Forum was established in 2016 and one of the key dates in the calendar is the PA Awards, an evening created especially to recognise and reward the hard work and talent of PAs, EAs, VAs and Secretaries across Birmingham.

The first step was to complete an initial application form which consisted of five questions. I was asked to give examples of my professional achievements, how I go above and beyond in my role and why I wanted to be involved in the PA Awards. My application form was submitted to the Awards Committee to be given a score so they could decide which candidates would progress to the next stage. Daniel Skermer kept me informed throughout the process, offering updates, providing support and all whilst he simultaneously organised the next evening in the series of annual events: a drinks reception to toast the nominees and introduce the sponsors.

In April I was told that I had been shortlisted to the next stage which would be an informal telephone interview with three members of the Awards Committee. The call was 10 minutes in length with each of the members asking me a question in turn. Tracey Paton, Jas Gardiner and Janine Peel joined my call and their questions asked me to demonstrate my strengths, outline my role in more depth and also encouraged me to discuss the profession of PAs in a broader context.

After a short wait, I received an email congratulating me on being a finalist for the PA of the Year category. The final stage was a face to face interview with the judging panel at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Questions were released 48 hours before the meeting and this gave me time to really consider how I would use this platform and what differences I would make to strength and support the PA community.

Once the challenging part was over, it was time to get excited for the all-important awards evening. In anticipation of this, Dan organised a beauty and fashion event at John Lewis, Solihull for the finalists. This was a chance to meet the other candidates and also the perfect place to shop for outfits and accessories for the celebratory occasion. As promised, the awards evening was spectacular from start to finish. Impeccable planning ensured breath taking entertainment, a fabulous three course dinner and an electric atmosphere at the Vox, Resorts World.

Being a part of this process has allowed me to meet with professionals who I respect and look up to, particularly the judges, Angela Mortimer, Andrew Jardine, Chris Peacock and of course last year’s winner, Fay Gleeson. I have more confidence in my abilities and winning this award has motivated me to strive to reach my full potential. The PA Forum has given me a platform to achieve my objectives and a voice to represent professional administrators. I will be keeping in touch with the wonderful individuals who I had the honour of meeting and I am certain that as the PA Forum evolves to cover the West Midlands region, it will go from strength to strength and I feel fortunate to be a part of its history.

Emily Morris – PA Awards 2019 (Experience Blog)

When I received my first email from Daniel Skermer and saw my old boss’ name I assumed she had been nominated for another PA Forum award and I needed to write a few words about how amazing she is, but the further I read on I realised that it was actually the other way around, she had put me forward for an award.  My initial thoughts were that I didn’t deserve something like this, and how was I going to talk about myself, for 5 questions and answers?! I put the application off for a few days, thinking of what to say but nothing sounded right; I decided I was going reply to Daniel saying how grateful I was for the nomination, but I couldn’t imagine going through a process that required talking about myself. However, unbeknownst to me, a colleague had completed the application on my behalf and returned it. No going back now!

The idea of being nominated, and the process that followed made me nervous, but Daniel’s friendly emails quickly put me at ease. I soon felt a part of this PA Forum community, with lots of invitations for events to meet my fellow nominees and the incredible team working hard behind the scenes. Although, the nerves soon set in again when I discovered I had progressed to the next stage to complete a telephone interview. I’m the first to admit that I am not good at talking myself up, so interviews are not something I look forward to! I prepared as much as I could, trying to plan what I was going to say, but of course when I was on the phone to the judges that all went out the window and I couldn’t tell you how I answered the questions.

Much to my surprise, I received an email to say that I had been shortlisted for the next stage and would attend a face to face interview; I was determined to not let my nerves get the better of me this time. I hadn’t really told anyone at work, so had to hide my excitement and make up a reason as to why I had left the office early to attend my interview, which probably looked a bit suspicious looking back! I arrived at the Radisson Blu in Birmingham and was greeted by Daniel, and even though we had only ever spoken over email he instantly put me at ease and started chatting as if we had known each other forever – which was exactly what I needed and I can’t thank him and the team enough, not only before the interview but throughout the whole process. I walked into the room and the interview began. I had prepared all my answers and it was all going well, but then the judges, Angela Mortimer and Andrew Jardine, asked me my most feared question – “Why do you feel you should win this Award?”. I started out with a sentence not knowing where it was going to end up and could see the slightly confused look on both of their faces. At this point, I said “I think it must be an English trait to not like talking about yourself and your achievements and struggle to take a compliment” which made Angela and Andrew laugh, and both reply “it is definitely not and English trait! We have no problem with it, and neither should you. All you have to say when someone praises you is Thank You”. It was then that the reality set in that I had made it this far, and I should believe in myself a little more; something I will keep working on and remember when someone pays me a compliment, all I have to say is “Thank You” and know that I am doing a good job.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the night itself, but from what I have heard it was an amazing night enjoyed by all. Hannah Smith, who had nominated me attended on my behalf, and there is no one else I would have wanted there representing me. She has had a huge impact on my life, not just professionally and I wouldn’t be where I am today (winning awards!) without her. I had sent her a text early in the evening to see how it was all going and hadn’t had a reply for hours; I was starting to get a bit anxious and assumed I hadn’t won, and she couldn’t bring herself to tell me. Then, finally, she sent me a picture. It was of the award, and it had my name on it. I couldn’t quite believe it at first, but then thought about what I had learnt throughout this whole process and all the advice I had received from the judges.

I am so proud to have won this award and be a part of this great community of the PA Forum and Awards and look forward to everything that might come my way in the future as a result. Daniel and the whole team have been incredible from the start, and continue to be now, with emails of praise and support and invites to some great events. For anyone like me who doesn’t enjoy interviews, networking, ceremonies and everything that comes with it, I couldn’t urge them enough to give it a go and get involved with the PA Forum and Awards; it is nothing like how I thought it would be, and I mean that in the best possible way!


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