Debbie Grimshaw ǀ Brother UK

debbie grimshawMy name is Debbie Grimshaw and I am Executive Assistant to Phil Jones, Managing Director of Brother UK, the Information, Communication and Technology Company.

During a 25-year career with the business, I have provided EA and PA support to the senior leadership team at Brother UK and Brother International Europe. In my current role, I manage the complex and demanding diary of Phil Jones, one of the North West’s prominent business leaders.

Alongside my day-to-day duties, I also have a leading role in Brother UK’s corporate responsibility and community engagement projects. These include a role in a Year 10 student mentoring programme at Copley Academy in Tameside and involvement with the Hallé Impresarios Project, a scheme which introduces students at Denton Community College, near Manchester, to classical music and how to run a business.

I continually invest in my own personal development and expand my horizons by flexing myself in all areas of the business to ensure I have a thorough knowledge of the organisation, including the induction of new people. This gives me an insight of how it feels to be new to the business and allows me to demonstrate our company values.

I am an active member of the Manchester PA Network and the CityCo PA Network as I love to promote our profession. I also encourage colleagues to attend, to grow their network and confidence.

My attendance of Office Show is a key event in my diary each year and in 2014 I was proud to be announced as a runner-up in the PA Contributor of the Year award on National PA Day.

My passion to promote the role drives me to coach and mentor key colleagues in my peer group, creating a strong sense of togetherness amongst the team. I share best practice and strive to be the best possible role model I can be. Recently I acquired an assistant who came to us as an apprentice. Sharing all my experience and knowledge with her and watching her grow has brought great mutual benefit.

Outside of work, I volunteer as Charity Secretary for the Convoy of Happiness Children’s Charity, which provides day trips to sick, disabled and terminally ill children and their families. I also manage the charity’s social media channels.

I have two daughters, two dogs and I live in Tameside.


Donna Olliver ǀ KPMG

Donna Olliver

I left Catering College not really knowing what to do, but knowing I didn’t want to be a chef, so I applied for various office type jobs as they were all termed then.

I was working as a waitress to support myself through my Catering course when the owners asked me what I wanted to do when the course finished. I was 18 years old and had no idea. I just wanted normal hours like my friends were doing. Keith and Carl offered me the role as Receptionist and later Head Receptionist at their hotel. I really enjoyed the job and learnt a lot, but after a few years I found it wasn’t challenging enough for me. I was also working alone in the afternoons so I wasn’t really learning anything new from anyone.

I started my PA career at the age of 20 after I found a role as a doctor’s Personal Assistant. Where I stayed for 4 1/2 years. I decided to move into Finance when an opportunity came along. I loved my job as a doctor’s PA. The job was very pressurised, and you really have to be aware of what was happening at all times. The phone was constantly ringing and you had to help patients who could sometimes be seriously ill. This was my first real taste of the PA role and I loved it. I was really torn to leave my colleagues, the three lovely doctor’s I was looking after as well at the 5 nurses but I wanted to see what Finance would be like.

I then started with one of the Big 4 Accountancy firms – Deloitte and was PA to the Audit Director, the tax Director and the tax team as well as helping out in the finance department. The Director was then promoted to Partner which was great for him and for me. I really enjoyed my time there.

I was then given the chance to move to another finance organisation and as well as being the PA I could also undertake a HR qualification. As I have been doing bits of HR for Deloitte, I decided to move and I really think that this was the making of me as a PA. I was the only PA for the office of 14 and was PA to the 4 Directors. I was also in charge of the HR function and was supported by someone in our sister office until I became HR qualified. I loved the job and even helped with the move into a new office. When they decided to close the Guernsey office, we were all made redundant, and as I didn’t wish to leave Guernsey, I moved to another accountancy firm.

I then found a role at KPMG Channel Islands where I have been for over 3 years now. I look after the Channel Islands Advisory Partner, Advisory Director and the team of 11, which is still growing. I love my role and can hand on heart say this is the best role I have had. I love coming to work in the mornings (just don’t tell my colleagues that). I’m fully supported in all I do and I know that they appreciate all our hard work. I also mentor another PA in the office, who is doing amazingly well in her role, we are very proud of her. My team are amazing and we work together and support each other really well.

In my spare time I mentor for The Hub in Guernsey which is part of Barnardos. We mentor young adults who need someone to talk to about any issue that they are having. This is so rewarding and I’m very proud to be such a small part of this amazing charity.

In February 2015 I decided that I would launch a local PA network in Guernsey called “Guernsey PA Connect” as PA networks in other places are really popular and we had nothing like that here in Guernsey, I believed it was time we had one to. One of my oldest friends came on board and we have gone from strength to strength. We now have over 180 members and are still growing. I’m really proud of the ladies for being part of Guernsey PA Connect. We have truly only just touched the tip of the iceberg as to what we are going to do, but we have already had 4 events, an amazing speaker and we have 1 more event yet to come this year. We have promoted Guernsey and the PA role, the people in Guernsey are talking about PA’s and how important we are – the feedback has been immense and the sleepless nights about launching are a distance memory. It’s definitely #PAPower and we shall ensure that we continue to get the PA’s of Guernsey taken seriously.

Thank you so much for awarding me the “We Are The City” Rising Star award in the Personal & Exec Assistants category. I’m very proud to have been not only shortlisted and voted for but to have been recoginsed. Thank you.


Donna Evans | Barclays

Donna has been an assistant with Barclays for 21 years, joining the Structured Finance Team in 1994 where she worked for the departmental head. Following a nine-year period with the Structured Trade and Export Finance team, Donna was approached to work for the Head of Global Loans. During this time, she also worked closely with the team’s COO and managed a team of seven other assistants. For the past six years, Donna has been working in Leveraged Loans - a move she made with her manager when he was promoted to Head of Leveraged Finance EMEA.

Donna has been actively involved with the Barclays Women’s Network (WiN) for the past four years and was approached this year by a senior sponsor of the network to form an Assistants Forum in London. Donna is now Co-chair of the Barclays WIN Assistants Forum and successfully launched the network in March 2015. The launch was followed by a “Power of Profile” networking event in June and there are many such inspirational events and initiatives planned for the rest of the year.

Prior to joining Barclays, Donna worked at two other Banks; Heritable and General Investment Bank and ANZ, and also spent time working in a summer camp in America. Donna has a passion for art and during her spare time she volunteers as a Guide at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain. She is currently half way through her OU History of Art Degree. In addition, Donna sits on the committee for the Assistants Support Group in Banking, through which she helps organise a number of fundraising initiatives and philanthropy days. Donna is active in the voluntary sector, having spent two years volunteering on a Learning Partner scheme – helping children improve their numeracy and literacy skills with George Green School on the Isle of Dogs.


Vicki Ghiotti | Sodexo

Photo©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy® 401009Vicki joined Sodexo in 1994 following various PA roles within the pharmaceutical, IT and medical industries.

Vicki left Sodexo in 1999 to become self-employed and successfully ran a secretarial business from home providing support to local businesses and individuals.

Vicki returned to Sodexo in 2001 as PA to the Business Development Manager, Justice Services.

During her time with Sodexo, Vicki has also worked as a Project Coordinator within the Business Development Team assisting in the production of bid documentation for new custodial business. In 2009, Vicki travelled to South Africa where she worked with a team in Johannesburg producing bid submissions for four new build prison projects.

Vicki is a member of the Leadership Team for Women Work (Sodexo’s gender employee network) and assists in all activities including scheduling monthly team meetings, minute-taking, communicating with the network membership and promoting events. The main event in the Women Work calendar is the Annual Conference, and Vicki is heavily involved in the organisation of this. She also sits on the Events Sub-Committee which arranges and schedules regular events for the network’s members.

Vicki is currently PA to the Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director of Sodexo Justice Services. However, from 1 September Vicki will move into a new role as PA to the CEO, Justice Worldwide.

In her spare time, Vicki enjoys spending time with her young son. She also volunteers at events to increase awareness and raise much needed funds for Iain Rennie Hospice at Home.

Sue stoner

Sue Stoner ǀ PwC UK

I am a passionate and busy PA working at PwC where I work for 3 partners and 3 directors. I have been here since 1988 and love working here because it is a great place to work - lots of opportunities, and a bunch of very talented people. Each of the partners and directors I work for require different levels of my time - the busiest being the main partner I look after and he says I am an essential part of his life - his job takes him to some of the most challenge places around the world (Congo, Pakistan, Kenya, Kosovo, etc) and so this involves a lot of travel, including obtaining visas - often at short notice which results in major diary management. I also help him to do what he loves at PwC, he runs our international aid consulting business but he's also hugely passionate about strength based leadership, diversity and strength based development, so I help him make sure he gets to deliver his day job and keep him organised to do more of what he loves. One of his events are called Genius Power Dreams workshops - which he created about 4 years ago and these workshops are run every other month and I do all the administration for it which involves diary management, booking rooms and registration - we currently have around 500 people on our mailing list for these events - of which between 20 and 60 people attend each session. I also help him keep healthy by carefully scheduling hospital appointments and check-ups - he had heart failure last year and I have helped keep him going by scheduling hospital around his passions at work.

Over the last 5 years I've become increasingly involved in the PwC International Development business, not only do I support the main Partner in this business but I also get involved in helping the entire team when it comes to events and international travel (including flights and visas), this can be very complicated and often requires last minute country evacuations and flight changes due to the changing security situations in many of the countries that the team operates in. Based on this work I've now been asked to take on another Partner, the new leader for our UK/Africa Alliance, his schedule will no doubt be a nightmare and will require complicated travel in and out of African countries, my knowledge and experience with the International Development team makes me perfect for the role with him.

Finally, my main Partner is also a trustee for 2 charities, Diversity Role Models and Action Breaks Silence. I've been supporting him in getting board meetings scheduled and helping the charities to get their marketing information refreshed. I've been able to use the full capability of PwC's design team and facilities team to make sure we are supporting these charities as much as possible. For ABS, we arranged some Self Defence Training for PwC staff, to which the team from ABS came along to do for us – we had over 30 attendees attend this with some fantastic feedback. He is also heavily involved in working with Stonewall and also National Diversity Awards.

I have a vast knowledge about the firm and am often used as the point of contact for new joiners, or employees from our regional offices if they need help in any way. I am known as the "go-to" person!! Last year I was extremely proud to have won the London PA of the Year Award for the Above & Beyond Category - beating 65 other nominees.

Outside of work, I commute to Kent by coach and have been doing this for the last 20 years, I became a ticket collector on the coach about 18 years ago, and then about 6 years ago I was asked if would become the supervisor - so I currently manage around 25 ticket collectors, ensuring that all our coaches have cover, arranging cover and also meeting/interview/train new collectors - and all whilst commuting to work!! We also keep chickens at home and so I am known for selling my eggs in the office!!