SO Resi Canning Town

Royal Docks: The PA Show promises a packed programme as it returns to Excel

Wharf Life readers can get 10% off full conference passes to the 2024 event with code WHARF10

The PA Show is set to return to Excel for its flagship 2024 edition

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

The PA Show is set to return to east London with a packed programme aimed at personal, executive and virtual assistants as well as office managers.

The 2024 event, which is sponsored by South Western Railway Business Direct, will take place at Excel in Royal Victoria Dock on February 28 and 29, three minutes from Canary Wharf on the Elizabeth Line.

The flagship event, which has seen significant growth in recent years – with a separate autumn edition now a fixture in the calendar – promises a show designed to boost learning, skills and the personal networks of those attending.

In addition to an extensive range of exhibitors – offering services, products and resources to aid the lives of executive support professionals – the event boasts a packed programme of seminars across its five theatres

“The diversity of our sessions and the calibre of our speakers are truly exciting,” said Lisa Farnfield, sales director at The PA Show.

“We’re also thrilled about the networking opportunities that attendees will have, connecting with peers and industry leaders.

Lisa Farnfield, sales director at The PA Show

“We believe in empowering our attendees with knowledge, skills, and networks that not only enhance their current roles but also pave the way for future opportunities.

“This show is a catalyst for both personal and professional transformation.”

There are three ways for PAs, EAs, VAs and office managers to attend The PA Show 2024. The first is via a free visitor pass, which grants access to all exhibitors and the event’s Keynote Theatre.

This will host sessions throughout the show including Chief Of Staff: Top Five Skills Needed For The Executive Shift, where Sarah Howson and Marianne Whitlock are set to unpack the traits of high-performing executive assistants.

Also on offer will be The Power Of Adaptability, with Claudine Martin offering thoughts on embracing change as a catalyst for growth, and Menopause’s Impact On Financial Health: A Threat To Business, in which Tracey Louise Taylor will explore the issue in depth, finishing with a call to action for 2024 to be the year to confront the various challenges posed.

On the exhibition floor itself, visitors will find the likes of Toca Social, Prestige Hampers, Miss Jones Group, Hyatt Hotels, Flight Club and Electric Shuffle, Eurostar, Center Parcs, Crystal Corporate Travel Management and many more. 

Attendees are once again encouraged to explore via the PA Passport scheme, sponsored by Qatar Airways.

Visitors collect stamps from participating exhibitors, with completed passports entered into a prize draw.

The PA Show features a packed programme across five theatres

Going deeper, full access conference passes offer admission to all five theatres, starting at £149 for one day or £199 for two.

Wharf Life readers can get 10% off by using code WHARF10 when booking.

These include seminars such as The Productivity Triangle at the Key Skills Theatre where Kathleen Drum offers advice on navigating time and energy management alongside strategic planning.

At the Personal Development Theatre, Career Management – Why And How To Be Proactive About Your Career will see Joanna Gaudoin host a session on the significance of proactively shaping a role for long-term fulfilment.

This includes practical steps on developing a career and ways to gain motivation in making it a positive, consistent aspect of visitors’ professional lives.

A highlight at the Tech Theatre will be Fiona Young’s How To Make AI Your Superpower, looking at generative applications and large language models.

The seminar explores how attendees can integrate the likes of ChatGPT, Bard, Bing, and Claude into their workflows. 

The Office Management And VA Conference Theatre will host Maximising Your Potential Through Recognition And Reward, where Hana Gray will chair a panel of award-winning office managers – Caroline Rees Williams, Megan O’Connell, and Sarah James – who will offer insights and strategies for achieving recognition in the sector.

The event offers plenty of opportunity for networking

The theatre will also be the venue for Using Your Existing Network To Get Clients As A VA, a session with Caroline Marshall aimed at helping virtual assistants grow their businesses. 

 “Our aim has always been to mirror the evolving landscape of the PA/EA roles,” said Charlotte Fewlass, event marketing manager and deputy event director of The PA Show. 

“This year, we’re focusing on sustainability, technological adeptness, and career progression, reflecting the current and future challenges faced by our community.

 “Dive in with an open mind and be ready to absorb a wealth of information. 

“Network, engage in sessions, and most importantly, enjoy the experience of being part of this vibrant community.”

Find out more about The PA Show 2024 here

Charlotte Fewlass, event marketing manager and deputy event director at The PA Show

Read more: How the SS Robin has returned home to begin a new life

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- 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
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Technology: How SWR Business Direct offers rail bookings across the country

Platform allows seamless ticket purchases and travel policy tracking for SMEs

SWR has created its Business Direct platform to help firms manage their travel

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

“If you’re looking to save money as a small or medium-size company, you need to have a travel policy in place,” said Joe Thurgood, sales manager at South Western Railway (SWR).

With the post-pandemic return to face-to-face meetings, making journeys to attend events or spend time with clients has been back on the agenda for some time.

That means organisations of all kinds returning – or in the case of some more recent startups, beginning – to booking travel for people to get them to where they need to be efficiently.

It’s something the company Joe works for is taking seriously – developing the SWR Business Direct platform to enable users to book journeys across the whole country, not just on its own trains.

“It’s free to sign up, there are no fees on top of the fares and it’s very easy to use,” said Joe.

“It takes businesses about 20 minutes to set up an account and then there’s a dedicated customer service team to look after clients.

“We also offer online training in how to use the platform, though it’s been designed to be as simple as possible.

“It offers businesses the ability to track bookings that are made and to generate reports that tell them who travelled when and where they went.

“There are also custom fields that can be used to capture things like PO numbers, the department an individual works in or the customer they were going to visit.

“Users can make things as detailed or as simple as they like, so they can easily see whether the firm is operating in line with a travel policy.

Bookings on the platform can be made for journeys across Britain

“Customers can set up different users with different roles.

“For example, a director might be able to travel first class or to book those seats only if the journey is longer than an hour. 

“You can put all this information into the platform, so it acts accordingly when a person wants to make a booking.

“One of the other things it does is that it will show users all of the prices available for their journey.

“That’s in contrast to some other apps that might only offer the cheapest.

“This means you can see options that might be more appropriate – adding on ferry tickets or a TfL Travel Card, for example, to ensure you are buying what you need.”

With the majority of companies taking greater care with their environmental impact, SWR Business Direct also has a built-in tool to help firms assess this.

“You can track your carbon footprint if you’re serious about your green agenda,” said Joe.

“At any point, the platform will provide a detailed report on that, which is something businesses increasingly want to talk about.”

SWR, which operates a network of services from Waterloo to destinations including Exeter, Portsmouth, Weymouth, Reading and Guildford, created the tool in a bid to offer companies and their employees a frictionless way of booking travel on the railways.

“If you’re a large organisation, it’s likely you have a travel policy that’s saving you millions of pounds,” said Joe.

“For small and medium-size businesses, saving money is even more imperative – managing your cash flow is vital – and you need to be meeting clients, tendering for new business or travelling to see existing customers to improve retention. It also helps guard against fraud. 

“We are always happy to talk to organisations to discuss a policy or to help them come up with one.

“When it comes to train travel, that doesn’t always mean just booking the cheapest fare on offer. 

SWR is set to receive a new fleet of 90 Arterio trains

“Especially with smaller organisations, there’s a focus on caring for the wellbeing of staff and so they may be happier paying for a slightly pricier ticket if it means members of their team are less stressed when travelling.

“That might mean being able to listen to a podcast or catching up on work on the train rather than being stuck in a queue of traffic.

“That way companies know staff will arrive at their destination relaxed and ready to work.

“It might also mean having a flexible ticket so, if a meeting finishes early or is cancelled in a certain location, the employee has the ability to get a different train rather than wasting time.”

SWR is currently targeting small and medium-size organisations and those who book travel within them, such as PAs, EAs and office managers.

To that end, the company is sponsoring The PA Show Autumn, which is set to take place on October 17, 2023, at Old Billingsgate on the edge of the Thames.

The platform is always online, allowing users to make and plan bookings at any time and there are no fixed contracts for clients.

The platform offers comprehensive information across Britain

In addition to featuring the lowest fares available for any given journey, the platform allows customers to purchase season tickets individually or in bulk, and to benefit from a range of discounts and offers – including up to 34% off when booking three or more tickets via GroupSave.

The service provides both digital eTickets and paper tickets, which can be collected from any station in the country without the need to present a company credit card.

Business travellers on SWR services can expect free Wi-fi at stations and on board all trains, as well as quiet carriages on selected services.

First class facilities include large tables and at-seat wireless charging.

The railway is also set to receive a fleet of 90 new Arterio trains that will operate on its network, promising better performance, greater capacity, air conditioning, cycle racks and charging points for every seat.

Find our more about SWR Business Direct here

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

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- 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
Subscribe To Wharf Life

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

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

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

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- 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
Subscribe To Wharf Life

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

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

“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

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

- 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

Subscribe To Wharf Life

Royal Docks: How The PA Show trains and serves executive support professionals

We catch up with organiser Mash Media to understand the Excel event’s highlights

The PA Show takes place at Excel from March 8-9, 2022
The PA Show takes place at Excel from March 8-9, 2022

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

Executive support is what Liz Agostini is here to talk about.

The portfolio director at Mash Media, which is set to host The PA Show at Excel in Royal Docks on March 8 and 9, is quick to point out that the event is a larger umbrella than its name might suggest.

“It’s for personal assistants, executive assistants, virtual assistants and office managers – it has really broad appeal,” she said.

If anything, that’s a bit of an understatement. Spread over the two days, thousands of visitors will be able to attend dozens of seminar sessions, listen to dozens of speakers and interact with more than 100 exhibitors.

In addition to a theatre for keynote speeches the show will feature a Key Skills Theatre, a Personal Development Theatre and a Tech Theatre with a packed programme of trainers and industry experts.

It will also host the Office Management Conference with discussions on topics such as project managing office moves, supporting a positive culture in the workplace and engaging staff in sustainability.

“Whether you’re working as a PA, EA, VA or office manager, or considering a career in an executive support role, this show is definitely the place to be,” said Liz.

“There are several ways to attend, with a free visitor pass granting access to the Keynote Theatre and the exhibition floor.

“As a business, we’re real advocates for live events – with exhibitions, it’s about touching, feeling and experiencing products and meeting people.

“We’ve all attended webinars and virtual events, but there’s nothing like being in the room with others – humans are social beings, that’s how we’re hard-wired.

“Events like The PA Show also allow for those serendipitous conversations with people you bump into – a chance to build and expand your network.

“Those who don’t want to take part in the paid programme are absolutely welcome to come along.”

Mash Media's Liz Agostini
Mash Media’s Liz Agostini – image Matt Grayson

Delegate passes – £149 for one day or £169 for both (get 10% off with code PA2216) – not only include entry to the office management conference and all of the theatres, they also unlock Planet PA post-show video content, access to premium suppliers and the option to use The PA Show networking app.

Liz said: “One of the key things about the event is that the educational aspect is absolutely stand-out.

“The whole programme is CPD accredited and the other thing that makes it outstanding is that, within the paid-for programmes, all the people delivering the training are seriously qualified in the area of executive support.

“To go on a day of training with any of these people would normally cost hundreds of pounds on its own.

“At the show what you get is a substantial taster of what they offer. That means you can attend lots of different sessions, see what they are doing and know what you’re in for if you were to book a course with them.

“We cover all sorts of different areas, so it’s a buffet of education – people can choose what they want to attend at the theatres over the two days.”

The PA Show features a number of expert speakers and trainers
The PA Show features a number of expert speakers and trainers

The roster of speakers and trainers includes Lauren Bradley of The Officials, Shelley Fischel of Tomorrow’s VA, Joanna Gaudoin of Inside Out Image, Paula Harding of The Meee Partnership, Kay Lundy of The Expert Admin Coach, Rosemary Parr of the Global PA Association And Training Academy, Paul Pennant of Today’s PA and Lindsay Taylor of Your Excellency.

Liz said: “We’re working with people who are at the absolute top of their game in terms of the PA world – the cornerstones of the training market.

“Outsiders often greatly underestimate the importance of executive support roles.

“But when you sit down with people working in this field and really take time to understand what their jobs entail, it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

“The roles are so varied and strategic – these people are partners for the executives they support. 

“They often have to participate in all aspects of an organisation whether that’s finance, marketing, employment, corporate governance, human resources and sustainability issues. Their remit is absolutely massive.

“I spoke to one PA who answers 90% of her boss’ email as him. Her understanding of the business has to be as good as his.

“That’s why a lot of EAs and PAs move into critical roles within organisations – because of their knowledge of the business they work for.

“I know PAs who have gone into underwriting, stockbroking and mergers and acquisitions. 

“At the top level you need to know how the business works and that’s about a million miles away from the stereotype of getting an executive’s clothes dry-cleaned for them.”

The event is now in its 11th year
The event is now in its 11th year

New for its 11th year is the collaboration with the Office Management Group, bringing the conference into the show’s stable.

“That’s an entirely new stream of content that we’re putting out,” said Liz.

“It covers areas such as facilities and office management and, what’s particularly relevant about that right now, is that so many businesses are focused on bringing their staff back into the office, doing that safely and establishing how they create the right office environment in 2022 and beyond.

“Regardless of how many staff they have in the office in person, businesses are conducting both internal and external meetings virtually, so what kind of facilities do you need to have in place? If people are working remotely, how do you keep everyone connected?

“That might cover questions around scheduling if people are working more flexibly – for example, how do you make sure project teams are running efficiently if participants are only in on certain days?

“Because the whole subject of technology in business is so important we’ve introduced the Tech Theatre to The PA Show this year too and that’s focusing on a whole raft of tools that are now available, not just the Microsoft and Google toolkits.”

PAs, EAs, VAs and office managers are welcome to attend for free
PAs, EAs, VAs and office managers are welcome to attend for free

Liz said for businesses wanting to reach the spending power of executive support professionals, exhibiting at the show was a “no-brainer”.

She said: “Nothing beats the personal touch and the budgets people in these roles have access to are significant.

“Our campaign for the show this year focused on PAs and EAs as the power behind the throne – exhibitors need to come along to make sure they are aware of your products, otherwise you’re just leaving them to search the internet, where it’s much harder to stand out.”

Read more: Skyports set to bring electric aviation to the Isle Of Dogs

Read e-editions of Wharf Life’s print edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

Subscribe To Wharf Life