Q&A with Sarah Hodson: PA of the Year 2019
We are excited to have just launched nominations for the PA of the Year Awards 2020. Now in its ninth consecutive year, the event is an iconic celebration of the talents and successes of PAs, EAs and Office Managers in the SecsintheCity audience.
We caught up with Sarah Hodson, Personal Assistant to Jason and Irha Atherton of The Social Company, to find out more about her career so far, her experience of the awards ceremony and what it was like to be named the PA of the Year in 2019.
How did you become a PA?
“I had been working in the Hospitality Industry for many years but as I approached my 30th birthday I was looking for a change in my career. An opportunity presented itself with a gentleman who was looking for a PA to assist with the running of his restaurants which I gladly accepted. Funnily enough, he was a fan of Jason Atherton’s cooking and each time he opened a new restaurant we would visit. So, when I saw the position advertised at The Social Company, I knew it would be a dream job for me.”
What’s great about your job at The Social Company and working for Jason Atherton?
“The team is just so incredible to work with. The chefs have become like family and its great how we all support and help each other. Jason & Irha are great to work for, naturally it’s very busy managing everything for them but it’s good to be kept on your toes sometimes!”
What do you love about being a PA?
“Every PA will tell you that each day is so different. One day I could be liaising with film crews to organise the schedule of Jason’s TV series, and the next I might be arranging a VIP dinner for one of Jason’s ambassador relationships. I really enjoy that my position has so much variety alongside the day to day tasks.”
The judges admired your round-the-clock dedication to your boss – how do you maintain a work-life balance?
“Naturally, a PA role is very much 24/7 – especially when The Social Company has so many restaurants around the globe. But Jason & Irha are very respectful that I have a daughter and commitments at my church on a Sunday morning.”
Do you have any great stories from your time as a PA so far?
“What happens at the Christmas party, stays at the Christmas party! I belong to a fantastic PA network group where we all look after celebrities or ultra-high net worth individuals. We meet up once a month to connect over a glass of wine and we have an email chain where we can ask, or answer, any requests – need an elephant for an Indian wedding? Someone will know someone! Some of the requests really brighten a day; same day business class flights for a cat, for example. Another needed to find a pet owl, and it later followed that they wanted a vegetarian owl as they didn’t like the idea of feeding it mice!”
How did you find the application and interview process for the PA of the Year Awards?
“To be honest, I found the interview a little terrifying as it had been so long since I had been in that kind of setting. I came away thinking that I had completely blown it and did the usual post-interview response of thinking of great answers to the questions after I had left! So it was a real surprise to be invited to the ceremony, and I was shocked when I was announced as the winner!”
Tell us about the night itself!
“It was such a wonderful evening and lovely to meet so many other amazing PAs and EAs. Everyone was so friendly and sharing stories of how it is to look after our principals.”
How did your colleagues react, and have you seen any lasting effects from what is a tough award to win?
“Jason announced my win on his Instagram which was really sweet! The team have been really great, with congratulations coming in from far and wide!”
What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as a PA or EA?
“Believe in yourself. Build a network of support; whether within your own team, a PA Network Group or your own ‘Black Book’ of contacts – much of the job is reliant on who you have connections with. Google is a great friend!”
If you know someone who deserves to be crowned the PA of the Year at this year's awards, why not submit a nomination today?