Office Show 2017 Celebrates 10 Years of the VA Industry

Like many VAs, PAs, EAs and Office Managers, I attended this year’s Office Show.  It had been a few years since my last visit and a few things had changed.  For the first time, Office included the VA Conference as it marked 10 years of the VA industry.

It was a fabulous few days despite the frustrations of negotiating the Office Show website trying to sign up for the VA Conference itself and some of the paid seminars.  I really hope the VA Conference can be integrated into the Office Show on a permanent basis and the teething troubles in doing so are smoothed out for 2018.

The past 10 years of the VA industry has seen much change and growth.  More and more administrative and marketing professionals are becoming VAs in search of the work-life balance and the early pioneers are gaining traction as industry influencers.  Even better, VAs are better understood, better appreciated and better valued by the 21st century business world than some years ago.  This trend is, in my view, set to grow further as working practices will undoubtedly evolve further to take advantage of our increasingly mobile business world.  I see corporations limiting the number of PAYE administrative staff on their payroll and increasingly outsourcing to VAs as the benefits and financial savings begin to really be appreciated by management and shareholders.

With this in mind, trade fairs like the Office Show and the VA Conference will become even more necessary to ensure that this key professional group have access to the latest and greatest of technological developments, personal development and skills training.

In previous years I had only attended free seminars and, indeed, just one of the two days, but on this visit to the Office Show I paid to attend two specific seminars as well as the full VA Conference, taking up the two full days.  On day 1 Nick Bishop (Solution Focused UK) Ltd, at short notice, led the “Getting Your Mojo Back” seminar and inspired the delegates with a run-through of the skills of a leader.  It was intriguing to hear Nick go through the qualities of good leaders, stress that PAs, EAs, VAs and Office Managers are good leaders as they shared the same skills possessed by leaders: motivation, delegation, positivity, trustworthiness, creativity, able to give feedback, good communication skills and commitment.  A very instructive and interesting seminar, well put together and delivered (at short notice since the original speaker had to drop out).

I also attended Microsoft Tips and Tricks with Vickie Sokol Evans, trainer to Bill Gates’ Microsoft team.  Vickie was everything I had heard with pizzazz.  Her presentation showed me that there were so many great shortcuts still to learn!  Wow! Without attending the Office Show I would still be in the dark and, even better, I signed up to train with Vickie in June so I can’t wait for that.

On day 2,  I attended the VA Conference first time.  Meeting some of the VAs I have been talking to on social media was great and some who I had not had a chance to engage with before too.

The VA Awards have now, unsurprisingly, become an established annual event.  Although the regional categories have yet to be announced, the UK Outstanding VA 2017 and the UK Best Newcomer VA 2017 categories were announced at the VA Conference/Office Show:

Michelle Smith Collects Outstanding VA 2017 from Aimee Bateman,

UK Outstanding VA 2017 Category Winner:
Michelle Smith
Value Add Business Solutions Ltd., Glasgow

Heather Greig
VPA-NI, County Down, Northern Ireland

Gwen Backhouse
Curlew Secretarial Solutions, Cumbria

UK Best Newcomer VA 2017 Category Winner:
Ruth Dyer – RDVA Virtual Assistant, Great Billing, Northampton

Imogen Allen, Umbrella Digital Media, Staffordshire
Lucy Tipler – Your Loyal VA, West Malling, Kent


I have to confess that I was bursting with pure pleasure and pride to see Amanda Johnson win the first ever Best Virtual Assistant Training Course Provider Category in the PA Assist Members Voice Awards which was also presented at the Conference.  It was an accolade which was very well deserved as supported by the cheers in the room at the announcement.  Having started out on my VA journey at the same time as Amanda, I can honestly say we have trod very different paths.  Amanda has been straight as an arrow on target from day 1 whilst I, like many VAs travelled a path with some significant twists and turns.  Amanda has helped me to get slowly back on track and I cannot thank her enough for her unstinting support.  The tears Amanda shed on the day were real and is typical of how much Amanda cares about getting VAs to fulfill their potential.  If you are a budding VA you will not do any better than to work with Amanda Johnson at VACT.

Amanda Johnson & Stella Gooch – Office 2017

PA Assist – Members Voice Awards 2016:
Best Virtual Assistant Training Course Providers:
Amanda Johnson – Virtual Assistant Coaching & Training Company *** Most Popular 2016***
Caroline Wiley – The VA Course for UK VAs (SVA)
Jo Munro – The VA Handbook
Charlotte Wibberley – VIPVA
Michelle Dale – Virtual Miss Friday

There was even a VA Conference Quiz which was won by Caroline MccAble. It was great to be at the VA Conference for the first time on my VA journey so far.  I certainly plan to repeat it again and again.

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