Meet the Winners of the 2020 PA of the Year Awards

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 13 Nov 2020

PAs, EAs and Office Managers celebrate their successes at our first ever virtual PA of the Year Awards. It’s time to meet this year’s winners.

PAOTY thumbnail 2020

Last night, twenty of the UK’s finest Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants and Office Managers joined us as finalists for the ninth consecutive PA of the Year Awards.

The event, which is usually held at The Ivy in London, instead took place via Zoom, but our hopeful finalists and their supportive bosses donned glamorous dresses and smart dinner jackets regardless; their sparkling attire outshone only by their dazzling achievements.

This year has been fraught with uncertainty and volatility, but that did not stop Assistants and their bosses from turning out in droves when we opened this year’s PA of the Year Awards nominations. When nominations closed back in September, we had received more than 600 entries, making it tougher than ever for our esteemed judges to shortlist 20 finalists and then choose just 4 winners.

“We were impressed by the positivity, perseverance and professionalism shown by PAs, EAs and Office Managers from many different organisations,” said judge and Chief Executive of event sponsor Tay Associates Susanna Tait of this year’s nominees.

Once all our finalists had popped open the prosecco and popcorn from their goody bags, it was time to begin announcing this year’s winners.

Legal PA of the Year – Tanya Jennings | PA to Piers Reynolds, Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

First to be announced was the winner of the much-coveted Legal PA of the Year Award. Following introductions to fellow finalists James Marrow and Rachael Newton, it was revealed that Tanya Jennings – PA to a Partner at global law firm Freshfields – had been chosen as the 2020 Legal PA of the Year.

Nominated on five separate occasions this year, Tanya is known at work as an “unfailingly helpful” individual who “extends her support to many areas beyond the usual reach of a PA.”

Our judges were astounded by the broad scope of Tanya’s role which this year has included the unique challenge of negotiating an office move during a global pandemic.

Office Manager of the Year – Sarah Kingdom | Office Manager at ghd

Next up was the Office Manager of the Year Award. After introducing this year’s three Office Manager finalists – Izzy Kitts, Jenna Brown and Sarah Kingdom – PA of the Year Awards host and SecsintheCity Sales Director Dan Richards named Sarah Kingdom the 2020 Office Manager of the Year.

The ghd Office Manager is no stranger to the PA of the Year Awards, having been nominated and shortlisted as a finalist for last year’s ceremony. Judges were pleased to see Sarah’s return and blown away by the nomination that was submitted on her behalf by Kate Burn, Director of People at ghd.

“Sarah goes above and beyond, not only to provide exceptional office management for London but also to support our Cambridge and Leeds offices by mentoring our office managers there,” wrote Kate. “She quickly picked up the role as COVID Response Team Coordinator […] then moved to ensure all 300+ staff were set up to work from home safely, individually reviewing all their DSE assessments and taking relevant actions.”

Outstanding Achievement – Gemma Hughes | PA to Chris Leader, Vice Principal of Salford City Academy

The Outstanding Achievement Award cannot be nominated for. Instead, our judges choose a PA, EA or Office Manager from the pool of nominees who is an unfaltering champion of the profession.

This year, Gemma Hughes stood out to judges as a PA who has shown inspiring levels of commitment and care in her daily working life.

In his nomination for Gemma, Chris Leader, the Vice Principal of Salford City Academy, described her as “a true inspiration to all staff and students in the Academy.”

PA of the Year – Bethany Burns | PA to James Watt, Captain & Co-Founder of BrewDog plc

Finally, it was time to announce the winner of this year’s flagship award.

Competition for this year’s PA of the Year Award was tougher than ever, with fourteen of the UK’s most talented Personal and Executive Assistants going head to head for the title.

Ultimately, Bethany Burns was named the PA of the Year, having wowed our judging panel with her contributions and commitments in her role as Personal Assistant to the Co-Founder of Scottish multinational brewery and pub chain BrewDog.

From helping to transform the brewery’s gin distillery into a hand sanitiser factory to having a hand in the creation of special beverages and organising online bar sessions for the craft beer community, Bethany went above and beyond this year as her boss and his company adapted to a global pandemic.

Congratulations to the winners of the PA of the Year Awards and to all our incredible finalists!

Nominations for the 2021 PA of the Year Awards will launch next Spring. For now, stay tuned to the SecsintheCity blog for exclusive content, interviews and more.