MacKay Hannah

12th Annual Conference and Award for Executive Secretaries and PAs in Scotland (ACES 2020): A New Decade - It's all about the cloud...


Joan Serafini

Managing Director, Equator Events and Public Affairs and ACES 2020 Judge

Few people understand the importance of looking after high-profile figures than Joan Serafini. She spent over 22 years working for Government, firstly in the Scottish Office and then the Scottish Executive. As well as working in a variety of departments like Scottish Enterprise, Historic Scotland and the High Court in Edinburgh, Joan was latterly Private Secretary to former First Ministers, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell.

With years of experience dealing with high-profile visits, including those of royalty and Prime Ministers, 2002 was the year in which she decided to put her talents to good use in the business world by starting Equator Events, a subsidiary of the Equator (Scotland) Group – the number 1 full service digital marketing agency in Scotland – owned by her cousin, John McLeish.

Joan’s ability to transfer the skills she used as a Private Secretary in Government to her business, meant that she was successful in securing clients such as The Big Lottery Fund, RBS, the Shanghai Govt, the Thai Govt, Korean Biotech Association, MTV Europe, VisitScotland, Xerox, Sony, PA Consulting Group, Erskine, Enable & Tomorrow’s People charities to name but a few.

Her own personal claim to fame was when she organised possibly the most glamorous event ever to hit Scotland – the world premiere of the Braveheart Movie in Stirling. As the Scottish co-ordinator for 20th Century Fox, Joan had to liaise with the likes of BAFTA and essential services such as local police & the council, to ensure that the event for some 1,000 guests, went smoothly. And the highlight for her was when she was rewarded with a dance & a kiss from Mel Gibson, even though according to Joan, she “had to stalk him” to get it!

Joan’s obvious enthusiasm, experience and the good relationships she has built up over the years are reasons why so many businesses entrust high-profile, big budget events to her company.
Blue Twitter Bird@EquatorEvents

Gail Welsh

Executive PA – Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling - Scottish PA of the Year 2014 and ACES 2020 Judge

Gail Welsh, founder of ESPA (Education Sector PAs network) was winner of the ACES Scottish PA of the Year award in 2014.  Heriot-Watt University is where Gail’s career started, after being awarded Best Commerce Student at college.  The rest of Gail’s secretarial/PA time in Edinburgh was spent at The Scotsman newspaper, a market research company and an environmental design company.  

Gail moved to Stirling just before the Millennium and for the next 15 years worked in Colleges Scotland.  After a sabbatical, in March 2015 Gail took up a 4-week temporary assignment as PA/Administrator in the School of Social Sciences at Stirling University where she remains to this day!  Gail is now Executive PA – Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling.

In her spare time, Gail is continually networking.  She is also known for her passion of foreign travel and living the good life with her husband.

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The content of this day was so relevant to Scottish children and all presentations were extremely relevant in their own context.

Raising Young Scots Conference, November 2017

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