PA of the Year
For ambitious VA Gemma Walton, good enough is never enough
Gemma put herself forward for this award and has also been nominated by a client of hers, Andrea Adams.
Gemma became a PA in 2006. After her graduation she had three clear dreams for her career - to be a PA (as her Mum had been for over 25 years), to help people and to own her own business.
Gaining her first PA role helped her achieve the first two goals, combining organisational and administrative skills with a love of providing support to others. The third was to be reached further down the line.
Her career has not been without its challenges. In 2009 and still relatively new to her PA career she was made redundant from her role, which prompted her to consider changing career, as during the recession, PA positions were difficult to find, and she had become somewhat disenchanted with the profession.
Gemma showcased her tenacity and gave herself six weeks to find a new PA role before considering other avenues, treating her search like a full-time job, working from 8am to 5pm every day on applications, CVs and interviews. In week five, she secured a position as PA to the Directors at Yorkshire Water, and over the coming years was fortunate enough to fall back in love with her job, and achieve things within her roles she never thought possible. She recognises now that had she changed career when she was tempted to do so, she would never have started down her current path, had so many amazing experiences and worked with so many fantastic people along the way.
In 2015 she took the decision to pursue her long-held third ambition to own her own business and leave her EA role having become burned out from the demands of working at a high level in a global business. There began Portfolio PA, her Virtual Assistant Service.
That she is making a success of the business is testament in the nomination received from one of her clients who said of Gemma "For Gemma, good enough is never enough. She strives to be and give of her best. She is supremely organised, focussed and she cares about doing things well to her own exacting standards. She 'eats' work and her turnaround time is simply phenomenal" she also said "As her client I think she's a hero and I couldn't do without her. I wish we could clone her!."
To aid with her professional development she began working with a coach who has helped to develop her business. She is also a Fellow of The Executive and Personal Assistants Association (EPAA) and a member of The PA Hub, all of whom have offered invaluable support throughout her PA and VA career.
As well as inspiring others around her she takes motivation from those around her, in particular Lucy Brazier, CEO of Executive Secretary magazine who Gemma says "champions the perception of the role of the Assistant at the highest level, which is something I also personally aspire to, and her confidence, business acumen and knowledge of our profession are amazing."
The hard work and dedication that Gemma has put into her career has received recognition. In 2018 she won Yorkshire VA of the Year and she won Best PA in Business in both 2016 and 2017.
Now, as she continues to set herself new goals and she will be launching 'VA Academy' this year, a coaching and mentoring programme for aspiring VAs. Gemma said "I am truly passionate about being both a PA and VA, and about providing the most efficient, proactive and conscientious service possible. As I grow my VA business and training further through 2019, I hope to encourage and enable other PAs to move the benchmark even further for our wonderful profession."
Andrea completed her nomination by saying "Gemma's story shows what is possible with drive, determination and disciplined application of talent. As a high achiever Gemma has personal credibility within the PA/VA World. As her client I think she's a hero and I couldn't do without her. I wish we could clone her! She has a phenomenal track record and through her training business she is positioned as a thought leader in the VA space. I know she will use this platform to responsibly inspire and influence the next generation of PAs about how to run successful businesses, maximise their value and contribution to the success of the client businesses they become embedded in, whilst also achieving the holy grail of optimal work life balance. A tall order and she'll do it!"
We asked Gemma why should would like to win this award and she said "I would like to be considered for this award as I am truly passionate about being both a PA and VA, and about providing the most efficient, proactive and conscientious service possible to the individuals and businesses I work with, to enable them to be their best. I feel that the role of the modern Assistant goes far beyond 'tea and typing' - the opportunities are endless, and with the right attitude and approach, the ability of Assistants to add value in their organisations is uncapped. As I grow my VA business and training further through 2019, I hope to encourage and enable other PAs to move the benchmark even further for our wonderful profession!"