The personal assistant to world record-breaking pan-American cyclist Dean Stott, from Peterculter in Aberdeen, has been named Best PA Newcomer in the Scottish PA Awards 2018.
Frances Race, 23, from Aberdeen, was unable to collect the award in person because she was in London helping the elite cyclist as he prepared to attend Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.
The awards are run as part of the Scottish PA Network Conference, in association with recruiting experts Hays PA & Secretarial, and aim to showcase the crucial role that PAs play in today’s workplace.
“Every day is different,” Frances says of her work with former special sources soldier Dean Stott, 41, who has just completed the 14,000-mile Pan-American Highway Challenge 2018 from Argentina to Alaska in 99 days, achieving two world records and raising almost £500,000 for charity in the process.
“There were a lot of logistics for the challenge, and between me and Alana (Dean’s wife), we arranged three support vehicles, which we picked up in Florida and drove down to Panama through seven countries in seven days – the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.
“I also help with fund raising events and press and PR. We recently just got back from Alaska and Dean had 11 interviews in one day.”
Dean is a former military training partner to Prince Harry and arrived back just in time to attend the royal wedding in Windsor on Saturday.
Judges look for new or emerging talent who demonstrate real passion for the PA role and commitment to personal development and organisation.
Frances only had six years’ experience in the hospitality industry before landing her dream job with the Pan-American Highway Challenge 2018, and says her top tip to other PAs is “Believe in yourself.”
“I think that’s very important,” she adds. “A lot of people might tell you that you don’t have enough experience or you’re doing things wrong. But you should just believe that you can do it, and be yourself as well.”
Nearly 100 personal and executive assistants from across Scotland attended the Scottish PA Conference and Awards at the Glasgow Central Hilton DoubleTree hotel.
Roddy Adair, director for Hays PA & Secretarial in Scotland, said the role of the PA was changing from traditional diary management or organising travel.
“The role of the PA is becoming far more strategic, so PAs now are more focused on adding value to senior management, and in some situations actually being involved in the decision-making process,” Adair says.
While many big businesses have been consolidating, Hays has seen growing demand from medium-sized businesses or new businesses recruiting their first PA.
“We’re also seeing a change in job title from the traditional secretary role, to reflect those changing responsibilities,” Adair adds. “So PAs are business support managers, business support executives and executive assistants. We’re also seeing an increase in virtual assistants – PAs who work from home, who have far more work-life balance, and maybe work on behalf of a number of different clients. That’s a trend that’s growing in the market.”
Other winners on the night included -
Shona Laing of Archerpoint Group
Linda Drummond of DC Thomson
Julie Burns of Glasgow Caledonian University
Hays supports PA talent in Scotland through tailored events and its specialist PA/secretarial team.