On 18 November 2021, SecsintheCity, the UK’s only dedicated job site for business support professionals, celebrated the tenth annual PA of the Year Awards, partnering with Tay Associates.
These awards are an important event for the recognition of the excellent work that PAs, EAs, and office managers carry out every year. Given the uncertain nature of the last year, it’s especially important to speak about the redoubtable nature of these professionals and the crucial role they play in every business.
Though the awards typically take place at The Ivy in London, this year – as was the case in 2020 – they were held virtually. Even so, attendees still turned out in their black-tie outfits on Zoom.
By the time nominations had closed in September, SecsintheCity had received more than 450 entries from deserving candidates. Like every year, competition was fierce. The judges had their work cut out picking the 19 finalists, and choosing the winners proved even more difficult.
This year, there were four accolades and three categories under consideration: Office Manager of the Year, Legal PA of the Year, PA of the Year and the Outstanding Achievement award.
The winners of PA of the Year Awards are:
Office Manager of the Year – Ruth Houlsby | Office Manager at Sir John Soanes Museum, London
This year’s Office Manager of the Year award goes to Ruth Houlsby, who has been delivering results at Sir John Soanes Museum in London for the past two years.
The judges were particularly impressed with how quickly Ruth managed to establish herself as a vital member of the team, and in such challenging circumstances.
Joanna Eccles, the Head of Operations who brought forth the nomination, was keen to emphasise the key role Ruth plays as “the driving force behind well-being for everyone at the museum.”
Legal PA of the Year – Breanna Worton | Legal PA to Practice Group Managers, Business Services, at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London
The award for Legal PA of the Year was given to Breanna Worton. Described as a “force of nature” by Scarlett Hepting, one of the Practice Group Managers at Freshfields, Breanna has been working at the company for three years now. Equal parts technical guru and team motivator, she has become a vital cog in the Freshfields engine.
Assisting multiple managers is a major challenge, but Breanna “gracefully battles competing demands” ensuring that everybody has the support they need on a day-to-day basis.
The judges took note of Breanna’s enthusiasm, proactivity and willingness to launch herself into large, complex projects.
PA of the Year – Sarah-Jayne Makin | PA to Nick Salt, CEO of SYSTRA Ltd, York
The crown jewel of this year’s event, the PA of the Year award, went to Sarah-Jayne Makin, the PA to Nick Salt, CEO of SYSTRA Ltd.
Competing against nine other finalists, Sarah-Jayne was chosen by the judges, in part, for her continual motivation to improve, learn and adapt.
Her illustrious 22-year international career is all the more impressive because she did not pursue a formal education route, something that is characteristically demanded for such roles.
Outstanding Achievement – Sangita Arya | PA to Eduardo Ustaran, Partner at Hogan Lovells LLP, London
Sangita Arya, a legal PA at Hogan Lovells LLP, claimed the Outstanding Achievement award at the 2021 PA of the Year Awards.
This special award is given to a nominee who encapsulates all the finest qualities you could expect from a business support professional – to someone who displays commitment and exemplifies the profession.
The judges noted the immense determination and resolve that Sangita exhibited on the road to becoming an accomplished legal PA. Helping not only Eduardo, her manager, but other members of the team at Hogan Lovells LLP, Sangita has more than demonstrated her incredible value to this organisation.
Congratulations go to all the winners. The nominations for the 2022 PA of the Year Awards will open next spring.
SecsintheCity is the UK’s only dedicated job site for PAs, EAs and other business support professionals.
Part of Reach Work, a portfolio of specialist job sites, SecsintheCity is the outstanding career advice and job site choice for business support professionals.