Chesca Simmons – PA Awards 2019 (Experience Blog)
In 2018, my boss and a fellow PA secretly nominated me for the Newcomer of the Year Award, and I was shocked and thrilled to have made it into the final 5. I was so pleased to have even been nominated let alone to make it to the final stages. It was my first experience of the Birmingham PA Forum and they were so supportive of all the nominees from day one, so they instantly made me feel comfortable. On the awards night, I remember saying to my colleagues and family who came with me that I didn’t mind at all that I didn’t win, it was such a privilege just to be nominated and to share an evening with so many inspiring professionals.
I’d had such an amazing evening that I was already planning to buy a ticket for myself for the 2019 awards, so when the same PA told me about the new CSR Champion award that she wanted me to apply for, I couldn’t believe it. She asked me to answer a few questions and then got information and quotes from people in and out of the business who I’ve been working with and sent the application off.
So the first step of the process was done and I was invited to a telephone interview with Dan Skermer, Narinder Sira and Jayne Forgham. All three of them were so easy to talk to and it didn’t feel like an interview at all! It was a great opportunity to be able to share some of the CSR work I’d been doing, and the 10-minute interview was over in what felt like seconds. Then that evening, I got an email congratulating me for making it to the final four!
The next and final stage was the bit I was nervous about – meeting the judges, Angela Mortimer and Andrew Jardine. I received the questions they would be asking me a few days beforehand so I could prepare some answers but typically in that kind of situation, I forgot half of what I wanted to say! But Angela and Andrew were so good at making me feel relaxed and again, the interview was over in a flash.
Then came the big night… amazing food, lovely company, great hosts and speakers and an electric atmosphere. It was planned to perfection and all the comments from my table after the event were about how brilliant it was and how different it was to ‘normal’ corporate awards evenings. It’s the best experience being in a room with so many inspirational PAs, EAs and other colleagues celebrating our profession. But it isn’t just about the awards night. There are so many evenings and events that you get invited to as an applicant and that continues long after the awards ceremony with invites to the Birmingham PA Forum events including their Learning and Development Conference.
It’s a rare thing to meet someone like Dan who is so passionate about recognising what we do and he and the committee work so hard to give as many different opportunities as possible. Learning events, social evenings and of course The Awards. I’m so proud not just to have won this award, but to be part of this community, so if you’re thinking of applying... do it! It’s a brilliant way of making new connections with a whole host of different people and the Birmingham PA Forum members, the awards committee and the judges have all been and continue to be so supportive. And it’s a brilliant night out! I can’t wait to see what they do next.