Fiona Burlow – Blog

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.

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