The Benefits of PA Networks: Introducing The EUMA PA Network
Posted: 5th May 2016 | Share this Article:
Tell us about EUMA and its history?
EUMA was created by a formidable British woman called Sonia Vanular in 1974. Now in its 42nd year, European Management Assistants (EUMA) was previously entitled European Association of Secretaries (EAPS) and is registered both in Europe and the UK as a voluntary and not-for-profit association.
What is EUMA’s mission statement and vision?
EUMA is today synonymous with optimal learning, collaboration and networking at a regional, national and international level. Our member led network provides quality, interactive networking and training events with the opportunity to learn about other cultures through its unique platform. EUMA is committed to supporting professional development as well as enhancing and championing the professional status of Assistants and management support staff.
How many members do you have currently?
EUMA currently has over 1700 members spread across 25 countries. There is fantastic camaraderie between all EUMA members as we all share a common bond of wanting to share best practice, knowledge and ultimately a desire to elevate the profession. We do this via social media and with face to face networking at our national and cross border events. English is the working language of EUMA for all of its membership correspondence and training.
How often does the EUMA network meet up and how are the events structured?
On a regional and national level we have face to face networking events every 6-8 weeks in London and Manchester. Each event follows a similar format and begins with some informal networking followed by a speaker and rounds off with the opportunity for a show-round of the venue and/or more networking. Internationally each year a country is chosen to host our Annual Spring Training Day and another to host our Annual AGM and Conference. All members are welcome to attend cross-border events. Stockholm recently hosted the Spring Training Day and welcomed 200 Assistants from across Europe including our role model and founder Sonia Vanular.
Over to Sheila Anderson – the founder of EUMA NW in Manchester 25 years ago
Describe your involvement with EUMA and what has been your highlight to date?
When I joined the European Association of Professional Secretaries (EAPS) nearly thirty years ago, I had not heard of any other network for Secretaries. I felt then and still do that Secretaries/PAs should be recognised as an essential part of the management team.
After a year or so travelling to Yorkshire each month to my nearest EAPS branch, I was tasked with setting up a region for the North West – Manchester being the hub but taking in a 50 mile radius. It was like launching a new business and along with a few starter members we set about creating our strategy:
- We needed something to offer potential members (meetings, training etc)
- We needed to organise venues and relevant speakers
- We had to raise funds to pay for rooms, speakers & refreshments
- We had to publicise what we had to offer (both locally and within Europe)
- The objective was to recruit more members and grow the network
The highlight for me was celebrating 25 years in the North West at last year’s UK Training Day and featuring on the EUMA website. The birthday cake was also a lovely surprise.
What are the benefits of joining a PA network and EUMA?
I have been a member of EUMA for almost 30 years and my company and I have benefitted from a wide network of contacts. My self-confidence has grown because of the skills and knowledge I have developed at EUMA meetings and training events. I feel part of a European family and always get a buzz out of meetings.
What challenges does the network face?
There have been many changes for organisations and for PAs over the last 25 years – responsibilities, technology, the economy etc. and so our strategy has to be reviewed and changed in order to meet the changing markets and needs of our members. We have to recognise what is in our circle of influence, listen to what our members and potential members want, re-evaluate and adapt to provide an organisation that meets their requirements (both at the European level and within our small regional groups).
Back to Jennifer.
What’s next for EUMA?
Firstly thank you Vivien for giving us this opportunity to talk a little about what we do and stand for. The month of May is an exciting one for EUMA UK.
Our members and committee are looking forward to attending office* at ExCeL on 11-12 May and you can meet us there on stand 621. We are delighted to announce our EUMA Midlands Launch in Birmingham May 19th with the help of our new Midlands leader Tracey Paton. On May 21st we will host our AGM and it is a fantastic opportunity for members and the committee to meet, ask questions, share ideas, explore volunteering opportunities and discuss potential improvements for the network. We would be nothing without our volunteers! We are extremely excited that Adam Fidler has agreed to host a special session on ‘Executive Presence’ for us.
The international theme for EUMA in 2016 is ‘Self Development’ and we have a future rebrand in the pipeline. Our Annual AGM and conference will take place in Copenhagen on October 21st and is entitled ‘Working in the eye of the storm’.
EUMA is an ambassador of change and as a network we recognise that we need to continually evolve in order to stay connected, current and relevant. We have recently forged some amazing media partnerships with Executive Secretary Magazine and Julie Perrine (All Things Admin) so the future is looking very bright.
Thank you Jennifer and Sheila!
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