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Joan Stringer was appointed Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University in January 2003 having previously served as Principal and Vice Patron of Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh. Professor Stringer has contributed to a number of policy initiatives through external organisations, committees and working groups, which included membership of the Scottish Committee of Dearing. She also served as a Board member of the Interactive University (which formed a bridge between Scotland’s universities and students worldwide who wished to study for internationally recognised qualifications from their home countries) and is a former Council member of the World Association of Co-operative Education (which promotes work-integrated learning worldwide and builds links between education, industry and government). In 2001 Professor Stringer was awarded a CBE for Services to Higher Education and was awarded Hon D Litt from the University of Keele for her contribution to higher education and public service.
In 2009 Professor Stringer was awarded a DBE for services to Local and National Higher Education. Robert Black stepped down as Auditor General for Scotland at the end of June 2012, a post which he had held since 2000.
In this role he was the accountable officer, and therefore in effect chief executive, of Audit Scotland. Between 1995 and 2000, Dr Black was Controller of Audit with the Accounts Commission with responsibility for the external auditing and reporting on all expenditure by local authorities and NHS bodies in Scotland. Prior to this, he was a local authority chief executive for 10 years, first with Stirling District Council (1985-90) and then with Tayside Regional Council (1990-1995). His earlier career (1975-1985), was in policy planning and research with Strathclyde Regional Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and Glasgow City Council. Since his retirement from the post of Auditor General, Dr Black has been appointed to the British Library Board, joined the Court of Edinburgh University as a lay member and become a public interest member on the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.
Currently she is Chair of NHS Education for Scotland, Chair of the Scottish Association for Mental Health and a Scottish Funding Council Board member. She is a graduate of Edinburgh University, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Maureen is an experienced Business Risk Consultant, currently working in a freelance capacity, with a proven track record in developing and delivering risk management solutions across a range of multi-functional businesses, representing both clients and consultants. A keen advocate of the business benefits of a robust risk management strategy, her approach is practical as well as technical, which assists in raising awareness and engaging buy-in at all levels in the organisations. Maureen began her career in risk as Insurance Manager at a major utility company where she was responsible for developing and managing insurance and risk financing arrangements, including the establishment of a captive insurance company.
In 1994, she moved into the public sector as Risk Manager to Strathclyde Regional Council, at that time Europe’s largest local authority. She joined Sector (part of the Capita group) in July 2006 to head up its Business Risk consultancy services, prior to which she spent four years as a Business Risk Consultant (Vice President level) with Marsh UK Ltd, becoming Regional Leader of their Public Sector Practice.
Dr Ian C Elliott is a lecturer and programme leader of the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Services Governance at Queen Margaret University.
In addition to programme leadership Ian teaches across undergraduate, MSc and MBA programmes in subjects including operations management, economics and strategy. Ian is also Chair of Dads Rock, Scotland's only network of free playgroups for dads and kids. Jessica Crowe is Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny, an independent charity founded in 2003 to promote better scrutiny and accountability in decision-making across the public sector. Prior to joining CfPS in 2006, she was a councillor for eight years in the London Borough of Hackney, where she was Deputy Mayor. In 2007-08 she was on the independent Councillors Commission, which investigated the barriers and incentives to becoming an elected councillor. She has extensive experience in elected and lay member training and adult education and has worked as an adviser to a government minister and for various local government organisations.
Claer sits as a part-time Tribunal Judge and as a non-executive Director of both the Paradigm Housing Association and Ravensbourne College boards. She works with public, private and third sector Boards and Organisations to achieve good ethical governance; increasing productivity, profitability and performance. Sarah Hutchison was appointed Head of Policy and Information for the Scottish Information Commissioner in 2003. He advises a wide range of public sector clients and those engaging with the public sector on all aspects of procurement law (both contentious and non-contentious), corporate structuring and collaborations, contracting and grant matters, public administrative law, governance and state aid. Robin's background also includes significant experience in advising clients on European law, competition law and regulatory law. He also advises a large number of charities and third sector clients and those engaging with the third sector in relation to: charity law and regulation (including advising on regulatory investigations), governance, formation and structuring, contracting and community renewables.
Andy has been working in communications for 10 years, in post-devolution Scottish politics, for large banks during the financial crisis, before moving to a professional charity, during which time he dabbled back into politics to run strategy and communications for Murdo Fraser’s campaign for a new political party in Scotland. His areas of expertise are organisational strategy and positioning, communications change and turnaround, PR and reputation management, campaigning and writing for a variety of audiences.
Andy holds an MA (Hons.) in Economics and Politics from The University of Edinburgh, and is a member of the CIPR. Yvonne is Communications Manager at Wheatley Group and leads an award-winning team which delivers communications for staff, stakeholders and customers - both in print and online.
Donald Anderson started work as a Medical Scientist with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. In 1999 he was elected Leader of The City of Edinburgh Council, a position he held until he stood down in the autumn of 2006 to stand for the Scottish Parliament.
During Donald’s involvement in economic development, Edinburgh became one of the strongest city economies in the UK.
Victoria Darragh is an award winning Executive Assistant with over 10 years' experience working in the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors. A Fellow member of the Association of Personal Assistants as well as a member of the Institute of Professional Administrators, EUMA and the Global PA Network, Victoria regularly presents at conferences and companies across the UK and Ireland, Europe and internationally.
Victoria recently won an award at the Mayfair PA Awards for 'Outstanding Contribution to the PA Profession' and has a wealth of experience in creating internal and external PA networks and  working with top companies in the UK helping them to achieve this.
Victoria is extremely passionate about the role of the PA and actively encourages it as a truly fantastic career choice. Lucy Brazier is CEO of Marcham Publishing, specialist publishers of Executive Secretary and The VA Magazine - global training magazines dedicated to the professional development needs of senior and aspiring administrative professionals.



As editor of the magazines, Lucy works with some of the best trainers of Executive Assistants in the world to deliver the most up to date and current training in the market. Lucy runs a LinkedIn group for assistants which currently has over 11,500 international members who share information, network and learn.
A sought after trainer in her own right, Lucy regularly speaks at and chairs conferences & webinars all over the world. She collaborates with trainers including Susie Barron-Stubley, Sue France, Julie Perrine, Melba Duncan, Dewoun Hayes, Eth Lloyd, Dr. Outside of work Nicky enjoys all aspects of the Barcelona sunshine but when it gets slightly too hot you can find her at the cinema or in the shops.
She has worked as a Legal PA for the past 15 years in a variety of Entertainment companies including Sony Music (PA to Director of Business Affairs), MTV Networks Europe (PA to SVP Business Affairs) and the BBC (PA to Head of Independent Drama). Alison took a year-long career sabbatical in 2006 to live and work in Oslo, Norway as an English teacher and in her spare time is writing her first novel. Katie’s role working for Jacqueline is quite extensive and has grown in recent years to include people management, business project management and also the leadership of the (small but mighty!) Ann Summers internal PA network. Laura began her career in marketing, and was lucky enough to work on a number of Britain's best loved brands, including Wall's Ice Cream, Flora margarine and everyone's favourite spicy snack- Peperami!
Her active involvement on a range of company-wide initiatives earned her the promotion of EA to the CEO.
Having worked in various administrative roles for 11 years and being raised in a family run guest house, Sherien brings a wealth of knowledge and adaptable skills to the PA role. Sherien is an award winning PA whose achievements include being awarded PA Newcomer of the Year. Allan has built a network of very talented and successful partnerships across Europe, along with running his own consulting & coaching business in the last 10 years, with Innermetrix being at the forefront of this Journey. A dynamic Training & Development Consulting specialist with extensive Management experience working with leading bluechip Companies.
Ability to communicate effectively at all levels of an organisation has been pivotal to success.
Gilly gained practical management experience in finance, sales, marketing and training in a variety of roles at Midland Bank, Mars Confectionery and Kettle Foods. A lively, approachable and impactful presentation style makes Gilly a popular and sought after speaker.
Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction. Few people understand the importance of looking after high-profile figures than Joan Serafini. Dr Black was the first Auditor General for Scotland, appointed by HM The Queen under the Scotland Act which brought into being the Scottish Parliament. An appointment as Risk Manager at South Lanarkshire Council then followed, where she established their Risk and Insurance functions and gained considerable experience in issues surrounding organisational change. Maureen decided to leave Sector in July 2010 to work in an independent capacity and pursue a wide range of consultancy projects. In 2010 she became one of three Commissioners appointed by the government to help improve the governance of Doncaster Council and in 2013 she was appointed to the Welsh Government’s Recovery Board for Pembrokeshire. She has also been a school governor and a non-executive director of her local Hospital Trust.
His responsibilities in Scotland include raising awareness of the Data Protection Act and related legislation, influencing policy and practice in all organisations handling personal data and providing advice and guidance on specific data protection queries. Her role includes strategic responsibility for publication scheme approvals, media strategy, information resources, research, external relations and promotional work. The Group’s services include the provision and management of housing, regenerating and sustaining communities and developing support services that help people and communities thrive.
He was also a member of the Boards of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the International Festival. Most notably he led Edinburgh’s response to the hosting of the G8 Summit in Scotland and the call by Bob Geldof for a million people to march to Edinburgh.
With access to the most forward thinking, passionate and knowledgeable trainers in the world as well as personally meeting and speaking to literally thousands of PAs over the last two years, Lucy’s knowledge of the market and what Assistants all over the world are facing on a day to day basis are second to none. She also launched adminchat in January last year – a weekly free training session presented on Twitter and hosted by a different world class trainer every week.
This year alone she will have delivered training in the US, Canada, South Africa, Moscow, Milan and of course the UK.
Monica Seeley, Marsha Egan and Bonnie Low Kramen as well as organisations including Pitman, OfficeTeam & Hays. Lucy has previously worked as a Publishing Director for Wilmington PLC, and has managed a team based in Singapore, New York, Germany & London responsible for 13 magazines, 12 international conferences, awards, trade show attendance and marketing for EMAP.
Nicky blogs about her experiences and knowledge which has grown over the last decade working her way up from a Junior Administrator through to an Executive Assistant and Marketing Manager at a global events company. Aspects of her PA roles have included drafting record deals for world-famous bands and working on the annual MTV Europe Music Awards. Within three months she had been promoted to PA to the Chairman, CEO and CFO, and in addition to her PA duties was appointed to a number of projects and forums.
As the most senior assistant in her company, Laura now manages her own assistant and works to expand and promote the roles of other PAs within ELEXON. Since winning she has really enjoyed presenting to PAs at numerous conferences and events in both the UK and internationally. Sherien currently works as a PA to four directors, the Chief Executive and provides secretariat support to the Board of Trustees of a charity organisation. This has brought with it a vast amount of opportunities which she has taken full advantage of, networking and encouraging Scotland based PA’s to go for awards, connect with each other and share ideas. Certified Professional Behaviour Analyst, Professional Values analyst Attribute Index Analyst.
With a strong business background and interpersonal skills, Gilly is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable trainer and developer of people.


With speeches full of helpful tips and practical suggestions that audiences love for their immediate benefits, Gilly’s approach is enjoyable, frank and very memorable.
She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, which specialises in supporting individuals and organisations to design and deliver winning pitches and presentations.
The first was providing technical support for physiology and neurosciences departments in further and higher education, across Edinburgh.
For the first time in their history, Assistants are starting to get the recognition that they deserve as strategic business partners and not just as a support mechanism. He has contributed to publications including two book chapters on Innovations in Financing Public Services and a peer-reviewed journal article in Journal of Education and Work. Her previous career includes teaching children with learning difficulties, a formative spell with Oxfam in the UK, leading equality policy in Fife Council and supporting the Fife Community Plan.
With a housing career spanning 20 years, Hazel has extensive experience of leading staff teams who deliver and develop services for tenants and communities.
Yvonne joined Glasgow Housing Association, part of the Wheatley Group, five years ago after 20 years as a journalist. From 1990 he was Convenor of Economic Development, a position he held until the Scottish Local Government Reorganisation in 1995, when he was elected to the City of Edinburgh Council. The Council’s response was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, with the award of their Grand Prix award in 2006. Other companies worked for include The Times, The Independent, Centaur Communications and Glass's Guide. Nicky has experience working in a variety of industries including accountancy, banking, insurance and in the public sector.
Laura is also a passionate member of several different PA organisations and is very proud to be a Board Director of the Association of Personal Assistants.
Laura is always keen to connect with assistants that also share her love of the PA profession and she feels that the highlight of winning PA of the Year has been the opportunities it has provided to meet and learn from so many different PAs from around the world. Previous to this Sherien worked in such roles as Secretary to a group of Consultants, Marketing Assistant for an Architect firm, Facilities Coordinator for a construction company and Purchase Ledger for NHS Legal department just to name a few. In addition, Gilly has developed and grown Priority Management in Glasgow with year on year growth; her high standards and expectations throughout the business from administration to delivering training have resulted in a significant market presence. By introducing people to new working processes and by leveraging existing IT, productivity and performance improvements are immediate, tangible and measurable.
Her concept of an event management company seemed to fit in well as another arm of the organisation.The success has come from spotting the possibilities of business events and trips, to and from Scotland. This involved designing and developing practical teaching materials at a time where technology was developing. Ian has previous experience at the Employment Research Institute, Scottish Government, University of Edinburgh and Glasgow Caledonian University.
Prior to taking up her current role, Hazel was an Area Director at Glasgow Housing Association, part of Wheatley Group, with responsibility for delivering customer services to around 15,000 tenants across the south of Glasgow.
She worked on the Evening Express and Press and Journal newspapers in Aberdeen in a variety of roles including Assistant Editor and Political Editor, the Daily Record and Sunday Mail and, prior to joining GHA, was Head of News at the Evening Times in Glasgow.
Donald was given responsibility for Economic Development in the new Council and in 1998 he left the Health Service to become a full time politician. She has worked for a number of high profile organisations and Executives in both London and Barcelona. Sherien realised that she wanted to be a PA early on in her career but knew she had a long way to go before being considered for such a role and natural progression in hand with determination and hard work would get her there. History of successful delivery of a wide range of training solutions within blue chip organisations. Gilly now has a first class team working with her to deliver the Priority Management programmes. She has to organise possibly the most glamorous event ever to hit Scotland.She was the Scottish co-ordinator of the Braveheart film premiere in Stirling, liaising with BAFTA, 20th Century Fox and essential services, such as local police, to ensure the evening for the event went smoothly. She has worked on computer aided learning for both Medical and Veterinary graduates and developed interactive practical programmes using video technology. They celebrate and recognise the role and its importance while encouraging Assistants to take control of their personal development, and drive their own career agendas. Hazel’s housing career started in London but she has also worked in the sector in Stirling and in West Lothian.
Nicky plays an active part in the Assistant community and has written many articles for high level industry publications, presented at events, webinars and trade shows. As well as several science qualifications she has the Training for Trainers Certificate and joined the Institute of Trainers in 1993. Since then she has gained a Certificate in Social Science, with a special interest in Scottish Politics, Equalities and Scottish Law. In 2002 she became a Quality Scotland accredited EFQM assessor and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers & Commerce (RSA).
This move was planned, having found she spent a great deal of time volunteering, training and developing youth organisations.
She worked for the National Bible Society for Scotland, developing teaching programmes for schools across Scotland – including remote rural communiites.
This work involved high-tech computer simulations and often travelling back in time 2000 years, 3 times a day! This company has expanded in 2007 and focuses on Training trainers and organisational development. For the last 7 years, Sheila has worked for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), and now works part time for them assisting the sector access rural funding.




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