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Tower Hill: How The PA Show Autumn is all set for a show at Old Billingsgate

New venue for the October 17, 2023, edition allows event to grow following its debut in Canary Wharf

The PA Show Autumn is set to return following a debut event in Canary Wharf

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The PA Show Autumn is back in east London with a new location and an expanded programme of attractions, training sessions and networking.

Following an event that was so popular it tested the capacity of the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf last year, organiser Mash Media has moved things a little further upstream along the Thames to the vaulted brick arches of Old Billingsgate’s lower ground floor.

Conceived as a more intimate, boutique edition of The PA Show at Excel, the feel is intended to be deliberately festive and seasonal as Christmas approaches. 

The new venue allows for growth and greater capacity

It’s somewhere for personal, executive and virtual assistants as well as office managers to meet suppliers and each other in warm comfortable surroundings.

“We’re really happy with the new location,” said Lisa Farnfield, sales director at Mash and the woman responsible for organising the show.

“It has a direct connection to Canary Wharf via the DLR to Bank and is easy to get to from the West End, the City and the South Bank too. 

“It fits really well with our audience in those locations but it also gives us greater capacity. The event last year was brilliant – it was rammed – but this gives us room to grow, with more exhibitors and more space for our two show theatres.”

The PA Show Autumn 2023 is set to take place at Old Billingsgate

In similar fashion to The Excel event, the boutique version is also very much focused on providing visitors with accredited continuing professional development (CPD) sessions.

“The new venue means we can have bigger theatres so more people can participate, as we were completely at capacity in Canary Wharf,” said Lisa.

“We have a fantastic programme of speakers running sessions on both key skills and personal development.”

Training on offer includes the likes of The Officials’ Lauren Bradley on next generation tech, Inspireful’s Hayley Watts on motivating yourself and others around you and Smile Box’s Donna Fisher on wellbeing in the workplace. 

“Last year showed a one-day experience was something assistants can fit into their busy schedules – attend a session and then meet the exhibitors,” said Lisa.

“With the location, they can easily come for half a day, a full day or the whole experience with networking and drinks at the end. 

“We’ll also be running speed networking sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon with 10 companies taking part in each.

“Those will be supported by M&S Corporate Gifts, with chocolate and wine tasting from Lindt and Ridgeview to enjoy. 

“We want the people who come to feel connected.

PAs, EAs and VAs will be able to meet a varied range of suppliers and businesses

“An assistant’s role can be isolated and many are very busy, so networking and finding suppliers can be a challenge day-to-day. Here they can find it all in one place. 

“We’ve got a lovely mix of exhibitors attending, including lots of new companies, so there will be plenty that people haven’t seen before.”

Sponsored by South Western Railway’s Business Direct platform, the show’s exhibitors include the likes of Fairgame, The Savoy, Qatar Airways, Virgin Experience Days, The Groucho Club, PA Life magazine, Harvey Nichols and many more.

“It will be a very relaxed environment with hotels, venues, hospitality, corporate gifting companies and travel supplies all represented,” said Lisa. 

“We’ll also be operating our PA Passport, where visitors collect stamps from exhibitors to receive a fantastic goody bag and be entered into our fabulous prize draw.

“We’re looking forward to a buzzing event – the demand is really strong and it’s a great time of year to bring people together in the run-up to the festive season.

“We want people to come down, meet each other and explore at their own speed.”

The PA Show Autumn is set to take place on October 17, 2023, at Old Billingsgate near Monument station from 10am-6pm with networking drinks until 7.30pm. 

Free passes to the show are available to PAs, EAs, VAs and office managers or those in similar roles.

The next edition of The PA Show will run at Excel in Royal Docks from February 28-29, 2024.

Mash Media sales director Lisa Farnfield is in charge of the event

WHAT’S ON – Theatre sessions at the 2023 show

Personal Development Theatre

  • Difficult conversations for EAs – 10.30am
  • The “WFH-battle” is on: Employee vs Employer. Who is right? – 11.20am
  • Motivating yourself and others – 12.10pm
  • The project mindset – 1pm
  • Your best is yet to come – 1.50pm
  • Assisting yourself to mental resilience – 2.40pm
  • The tactical triangle: 
  • Three perspectives from a strategic partnership – leader, chief of staff and executive assistant – 3.30pm
  • Talking anxiety – how to forge ahead! – 4.20pm
  • Be seen, be heard – create a credible, powerful voice – 5.10pm 

Key Skills Theatre

  • Do your minutes actually achieve anything? – 10.30am
  • Navigating an increasingly complex sustainability landscape – 11.20am
  • Unlock the power of ChatGPT – 12.10pm
  • Wellbeing in the workplace – 1pm
  • Skills to differentiate yourself and progress your career – 1.50pm
  • Growing your professional network on LinkedIn – 2.40pm
  • How to excel at corporate gifting and Christmas party organising – 3.30pm
  • How to stand out amongst the crowd – 4.20pm
  • Your career’s make-or-break moment: Emerging tech defining next-gen assistants – 5.10pm 
The show takes place on the venue’s lower ground floor under brick vaulted ceilings

Read more: Sign up for the Santa Stair Climb at One Canada Square

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How The PA Show Canary Wharf aims to bring a community together

Mash Media’s boutique event is set to be held at the East Wintergarden on Wednesday, November 2

The event will be hosted at Canary Wharf’s East Wintergarden

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“Community” is the word on the lips of Lisa Farnfield.

As Mash Media sales director, she’s responsible for organising the first PA Show Canary Wharf, which is set to take place on November 2 at the East Wintergarden in Bank Street – and she’s determined to make it a place of connection as well as business. 

Mash runs The PA Show at Excel – a nationwide gathering of those working as personal, executive and virtual assistants or office managers – which is gearing up for its 12th edition when it returns to Royal Docks in March.

Building on the success of this year’s show, the company decided to try something new in the interim.

“The PA Show Canary Wharf will be an intimate event for those working in the sector in London, that we’re holding due to popular demand,” said Lisa.

“It’s boutique – a way for people to come and meet suppliers, connect with like-minded people and learn from the great content we’ll be putting on.

“The East Wintergarden is a great venue, exactly the right size, and it has great facilities at the heart of Canary Wharf.

“There will be two theatres on the day, one focused on tech and the other on personal development.

“Speakers include Abigail Jones, an EA at Instagram, Lauren Bradley, founder and lead trainer at The Officials, Abigail Barnes founder and CEO at Success By Design Training and Sarah Howson and Marianne Whitlock – co-founders of Strategic PA Recruitment.

“It’s a chance for people to brush up on their skills and to come together – especially as being a PA, EA or VA can be an isolated position.

“The show is just in the run-up to Christmas and it will have a really special feel to it.

“We’ve got corporates and companies coming along – venues, restaurants, bars, hotels – a lovely selection of high quality businesses.

“Our focus will be the PA community and we’ll be running some great activities during the show, such as speed networking and a prize draw. 

“We’ll also be inviting everyone who attends to after-show drinks so that our visitors and exhibitors can wind down together and connect.

“That’s what people want and it’s our job as an organiser to tune into that – to make sure we have the right content and the right suppliers.

“Our experience with this new style of event will also feed into the main flagship show in March – our all-singing, all-dancing gathering of the sector nationally.”

Mash Media’s Lisa Farnfield – image by Matt Grayson

Visitors to the East Wintergarden will get access to The PA Show Passport allowing them to get stamps from exhibitors to qualify for a goody bag and entry into a prize draw. 

Prizes include a £500 gift card from passport sponsor Harrods Corporate Services and Eastbourne Tennis corporate hospitality tickets for four from Keith Prowse.

Exhibitor slots at the show have nearly sold out, with only a couple remaining.

Lisa, who used to live and work in Docklands, said: “I think that’s about location – being in Canary Wharf has drawn people’s attention.

“Live events are back and people want to go to them. It’s not just about putting on a show, it’s about putting on an experience.

“There’s so much change in this area, it’s important for people to know what’s coming up. 

“We want people to say: ‘Wow, that was a great experience’ – that’s our main aim with this more intimate show, a very select group of exhibitors and a layout that allows people to stay connected throughout the event.

“On a personal level, I’m thrilled to be back in Canary Wharf.

“There’s a real community here, not just for those who work here, but among those who live locally.

“It’s really meaningful to come back and deliver something like this here.”

Lisa said planning for this event had also informed how Mash will evolve the main PA Show when it returns to Excel from March 1-2.

“Because it takes place in spring it will have a different feel, but it will be a more intimate experience,” she said.

“We’ll be having five theatres but also more activities to attract a wider, larger audience.

“It’s about what we can do to make sure there’s a real buzz on the show floor. 

“Throughout there will be exhibitors that really pull people in and we’ll have the PA Passport and speed networking – some of the things we’ve developed for this smaller show.

“We’re always striving to ensure the layout and ingredients that go into the show are both as good as they can be so we deliver something that people want to return to again and again.”

  • PAs, EAs, VAs, office managers and those in similar roles can attend The PA Show Canary Wharf – sponsored by South Western Railway – for free.
  • Registration is essential for entry. Theatre sessions cost £42 including VAT. Visitors can get 10% off through Wharf Life with code 1009.

Read more: How Third Space helps Wharfers make the most of their time

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com

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