The PA to the chief executive of one of the region’s best known firms has established a new organisation for personal assistants across the region.
Gemma Nicholls, who has held number of high profile PA roles - including working for the chief executive of Gatwick Airport - moved to the region recently on taking up a job at Sage (UK) Ltd.
After attending an event for PAs at the company - which included an extensive discussion of social media - she established a Twitter presence and soon discovered that there was little in the region to help those in her profession connect with one another and develop their skills further.
“It was clear there was a gap,” she said. “So one Sunday morning, I decided to create Newcastle PA Network and it just took off.
“The response has been huge - everybody I spoke to said they had been looking for something like this. People had spoken about it before, but nobody had actually set anything up.”
Initially interest was generated through Twitter.
Ms Nicholls then wrote to her contacts on Linked-In and continued to receive positive responses.
Only a few weeks on, she has now secured 47 attendees from 30 companies for a launch event at the Hilton Gateshead on November 18, which will include a talk from chief executive and founder of Executive Secretary Magazine, Lucy Brazier.
Monthly events have been secured right through to February next year, with everyone involved, including the venues, offering their services for free.
“The feedback I received was that, while there had been some networking events in Newcastle before, there were sometimes ulterior motives behind them,” Ms Nicholls said.
“For instance, they were sometimes run by recruitment agencies and, while people enjoyed them, they felt there was a bit of a hard sell.
“For me, the main thing is that these are free events, run by PAs for PAs, and are only open to personal assistants, virtual assistants and administrative professionals. It’s about creating a professional but relaxed environment.”
How the network develops will depend largely on feedback from those involved.
But Ms Nicholls said many were interested in training opportunities, masterclasses and guest speakers.
“I also think it’s really good if people can meet peers from their own industry,” she added. “For example, there are quite a few people working in the education sector, which is very different to a commercial environment.”
The launch event in November will run from 5pm to around 8pm.