How Winning a PA of the Year Award Could Impact Your Career

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 14 May 2021

Bethany Burns cropped
Bethany Burns, PA of the Year 2020

“It’s amazing what something like this can do to bolster opportunities and forge new paths for the journey,” Bethany Burns tells us when we ask how her role as PA to the co-founder of BrewDog has evolved since being named the PA of the Year at the 2020 PA of the Year Awards.

For Bethany and many of our other past winners, the long-term positive career impacts of holding a PA of the Year Award are even more important than the glamorous ceremony and the fabulous prizes up for grabs – although those are quite spectacular too!

Having recently opened nominations for the tenth anniversary of the PA of the Year Awards, we caught up with several successful finalists from years gone by to find out how winning a PA of the Year award continues to benefit their careers.


New Job Opportunities

Having a PA of the Year Award on your CV or LinkedIn profile can help you to stand out from the crowd when applying and interviewing for new jobs; it says to employers in no uncertain terms that you are an elite business support professional worth investing in.

In fact, our iconic awards are so highly regarded by employers that some past winners told us they had been headhunted thanks to their triumphs.

“When I think back to my interview for the job I’m in now, I recall my current boss referring to my PA of the Year award,” says 2015 winner and EA to the CEO of Craneware Sheila Lyburn. “He mentioned that this had been one of the factors which prompted him to reach out to me in the first instance.”

Similarly, 2019’s Legal PA of the Year Joanne Wilson received job offers following her win but knew all along she would stay with her long-time employer.

“There is absolutely no doubt that winning the award could have taken me down different routes and to different companies,” Joanne told us. “However, I am completely loyal to Hall Brown and completely love my job so knew that I would stay here.”

Joanne Wilson cropped
Joanne Wilson, Legal PA of the Year 2019


Raising Your Profile

Being named the PA, Legal PA or Office Manager of the Year can boost your personal brand and raise your profile as a leader in the business support profession, resulting in speaking engagements, guest article writing and more.

“Winning this award has helped raise my profile both internally and externally,” says Amy Franklyn, Business Support Manager at Bird & Bird LLP, of her Legal PA of the Year win in 2018. “I have been asked to write articles and speak at various conferences which has increased my own visibility.”

Meanwhile, Joyce Adewale – who won 2018’s Outstanding Achievement Award for her unfaltering efforts as an EA at alternative law firm Axiom – says, “I have had the opportunity to sit on panels and attend Q&A sessions in which I have been able to network with others in the same field and exchange tips and stories of our EA and PA careers.”

Amy Fanklyn
Amy Franklyn, Legal PA of the Year 2018, with PA of the Year Awards host & SecsintheCity Sales Director Dan Richards

Building Your Network

Networking is of high importance to Joyce, who says that winning her award instilled the confidence to join the UK PA Committee at her new place of employment.

“Using this platform with two other EAs, I ensure knowledge is shared amongst the 65+ PAs, EAs, admin and support staff in the network,” Joyce continues, “supporting with performance reviews and goal setting across departments, being ambassadors of new technology as well as ensuring that any process changes have EA insight and support.”

If Sheila’s experiences back in 2015 are anything to go by, winning a PA of the Year award might also result in growth of your online professional network.

“Immediately after winning PA of the Year, the number of views of my LinkedIn profile and invitations to connect with others from a variety of occupations escalated,” Sheila told us. “Over the years, my visibility within the PA field has increased and I am now connected with many individuals within the industry.”

Joyce Adewale
Joyce Adewale, Outstanding Achievement Award Winner 2018

Mentoring Opportunities

As an award-winning professional with an accolade from the UK’s only specialist job site for PAs, EAs and business support staff, do not be surprised if enthusiastic junior Administrators and Assistants come to you for career support and guidance.

“I have been asked to personally mentor and coach people, including clients of my firm, and help them with their own personal development,” Amy tells us. “This is the best part of my role! I really enjoy spotting talent and developing people.”

Following her Office Manager of the Year win at last year’s awards ceremony, ghd’s Sarah Kingdom has noticed a surge in mentoring requests from colleagues.

“There has been an increase in those asking for my guidance and support with projects,” Sarah told us, “especially from those new to the company or the Office Manager and EA career paths.”

Sarah Kingdom
Sarah Kingdom, Office Manager of the Year 2020

Expanded Responsibilities

“My role since winning the award has continued to grow,” says Gemma Hughes, PA to the Vice Principal at Salford City Academy, when asked if her role has changed since taking home the Outstanding Achievement Award last year. “I already felt like a valued member of the Academy staff, but my role continues to develop more and more.”

Since winning, Gemma’s responsibilities have expanded to include line management of the Student Services department, organising a rewards day for students and being an active member of the COVID testing team at the Academy.

“I continue to feel valued at the Academy and I love every day. I can honestly say there has never been a day since working at the Academy that I haven’t wanted to go into work. It’s fab!”

Other winners also reported a broader range of duties since winning an award. Amy Franklyn says she is “now trusted to make key business decisions” while Sarah Kingdom has seen her responsibilities grow and adapt during the pandemic.

Gemma Hughes cropped
Gemma Hughes, Outstanding Achievement Award Winner 2020

New Opportunities

Since being crowned Legal PA of the Year in 2020, Freshfields’ Tanya Jennings has been busy indeed.

“In the few months since winning the Legal PA of the Year Award, I went on to win a BOOM Award at Freshfields in recognition for being a team player and going above and beyond in my contributions to the firm,” Tanya tells us. “I am also currently on a part-time client secondment in a project management capacity to one of our T300 financial institution clients and really enjoying the experience. I am also very much looking forward to seeing what new challenges Freshfields have in store for me next!”

Another of last year’s champions – PA of the Year Bethany Burns – says that, while her role remains the same, “my trajectory has changed.”

“For example, I finished my mini-MBA course,” says Bethany, “and I am looking at other ways to continually increase my knowledge and personal value.”

Tanya Jennings
Tanya Jennings, Legal PA of the Year 2020

Recognition & Reward

Although the importance of new jobs, new responsibilities and new opportunities cannot be overstated, at its core the PA of the Year Awards is simply about recognising and rewarding the business support professionals who work tirelessly to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes.

“Winning this award has brought so much positivity, confidence and opportunity! I am proud of my role and my career,” affirms Joyce. “Winning this award has made me want to be an advocate for EAs and PAs.”

For Joanne, being named Legal PA of the Year gave her the self-assurance needed to undertake new duties, even when they are outside her comfort zone.

“I feel like I am part of a very special and elite group of people who have been honoured for just doing their jobs – it is very unique.”

Meanwhile, for Sheila, the PA of the Year Awards provided a career changing confidence boost.

“Personally, winning the award helped me to believe in myself and my abilities much more,” she told us. “It gave me the courage and confidence to drive my career forward and make the transition from PA to EA. I have been working as an EA for nearly four years now.”

Sheila Lyburn
Sheila Lyburn, PA of the Year 2015

If you would like to join the “elite group” of PA of the Year Awards winners and start feeling the positive impact our awards can have on your career, why not nominate yourself today? Alternatively, if you have a colleague or friend whose hard work deserves recognition and reward, submit a nomination on their behalf. All nominations can be made here.

Find out more about the tenth anniversary of the PA of the Year Awards here.