- by Merryl Futerman
- 6 Jun 2017
The Career Moves Office Support team met Merryl Futerman at the recent Practically Perfect PA Assist Conference. Having worked as a celebrity PA and learnt a lot over the last 20 years she & fellow PA, Josephine Green have set up PA Insiders - a place where PA's can connect and share their knowledge. Inspired by her work ethic and knowledge we have been catching up with them both and plan to bring you something exciting soon. In the meantime, check out her brilliant blog about being a assistant and some of the unusual requests she’s received which helped form what would become the seed of PA Insiders
Having worked as a celebrity PA for nearly 20 years, one of the things I love most about the job is never knowing what task is coming my way next. One of these unusual requests formed what would become the seed of PA Insiders. Let me explain. My boss bought an antique grand piano at auction for his country house. I needed to arrange delivery, but also for the baby grand that was there to be moved to the London property to make space. This in turn meant moving the art deco ship’s piano from the London home to a friend’s house in another part of the country, and the friend was donating his piano to a local school. And so it was I spent several days researching, getting quotes, insurance, booking, confirming etc so that on one fateful day I had 4 pianos in simultaneous motion around the country. I was an expert in piano removals. And yet would probably never need those contacts again.
This is often the way with us PAs – we have banks of knowledge which sometimes we only need to use once – a big office move, a one-off international conference. I was chatting about this with my colleague, Josephine Green, and she also pointed how collaborative PAs usually are, happy to share their contacts and knowledge with other PAs. So together we came up with the concept of creating a place where PAs could share information with each other, and more to the point understand instantly the requirements – PA to PA recommendations. Better still, if it was online it would mean that PAs from anywhere in the country and even beyond could access it – and so the idea started to take shape.
It has taken over a year and been through many stages but we are delighted to have launched www.PA-Insiders.com – a website where PAs from anywhere can search the database to find a supplier suggested by another PA, with their reason for recommending and relevant contact info etc. These are genuine recommendations, from someone who understands the requirements.
We are also great believers in networking, so there is a Conversation Wall where PAs can ask a question, share a great tip or post a picture, an e-card feature to send to someone to ask for advice about their city, or say ‘thanks for the help’, or just ‘I think our paths have crossed’. We have thrown in a competition and a regular poll for PAs to get involved in and tried to include everything we ourselves would find useful in our day to day working lives. We have also set up a twitter account to work in support of the main site.
Our dream is a PA in Exeter having to plan a business trip to Glasgow for their boss, and simply by asking for help on the Conversation Wall and searching the database by city, being able to set the whole thing up in a few clicks - from travel to hotel to a great restaurant for dinner. Or needing a specialist piece of tech for a board meeting and having someone know exactly what to use and how to source it.
One of our key requirements was that the site be free to use for PAs and we're very proud to have achieved this, but its success is now down to our members - by uploading their great suppliers, engaging in the conversation wall or responding to a poll. Do go and have a look – you can download the brochure on the home page before signing up. As all communication takes place via the website you can rest assured that only your name, company and city will be displayed on the member database.
There are approximately 65,000 PAs working in the UK, imagine the shared knowledge available to access. Why not get involved and be part of a supportive online community. We’d love to see you on the site!
Merryl’s background was in film and publishing PR, but keen to combine working with motherhood set up as a freelance Celebrity PA in 1997.
She has worked for many British television personalities including Julian Clary, Jonathan Ross and Anne Robinson, and is well known in the PA industry, speaking at industry events, writing trade articles and blogging as well as being a founder member of the Celebrity Assistant Network.
In 2012, together with her colleague Josephine Green, she set up a training company “PA Access All Areas” to pass on experience and knowledge to PAs from all industries and 2015 they partnered with Exempla Global to launch PA Insiders an online forum and database, enabling PAs to network and share recommendations with each other, creating an online community.