MacKay Hannah

8th Annual Conference and Award for Executive Secretaries and PAs in Scotland: ACES 2015


Wendy Mitchell

Branch Manager, Inverness, Brook Street

Wendy is Branch Manager at Brook Street in Inverness and is celebrating her 12 year anniversary with the high street recruiters on the day of this event!

Wendy's career at Brook Street got off to a great start, after being promoted from a Temporaries Consultant to a Branch Manager in the space of a year. Over the past 12 years, Wendy and her team have experienced some great successes - from winning an internal Branch of the Year award three years running to achieving regular quality at work awards for their performance. Wendy firmly believes that regularly rewarding her team for a job well done helped them to achieve this success, and can bring a whole host of additional benefits too - as she will be discussing at this event.



Angela Garry

Author of 'Brave PAs', Editor of NAHPA and CEO at Pica Aurum

Angela Garry is a qualified teacher and psychotherapist with 24 years’ experience in administrative roles in England and Ireland. Her career has included working in corporate organisations (including a utility company, engineering consultancy, international seaport, banking, management consultancy), and in education (three universities, a sixth form college, a government-sponsored training organisation and most recently in an Academy for 11 to 19 year olds).

Shortlisted for both the UK “Headteachers’ PA of the Year” and “The Times / Hays PA of the Year” awards in 2011, Angela has combined her teaching and PA skills to become a renowned trainer, mentor and coach for Personal Assistants and Administrators. On business networking site LinkedIn, Angela is the most connected Personal Assistant and PA Trainer globally, and now travels the world training PAs under her company Pica Aurum (

One of six speakers at the first ever conference for PAs in Moscow, Angela has delivered training events and seminars for more than 2,500 attendees worldwide (England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, UAE, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Japan) since 2010 – including over 400 Headteachers’ PAs from state, independent and international schools.

Angela is CEO and Editor for the UK’s National Association of Headteachers’ PAs magazine, NAHPA. Her first book “Brave PAs” for PAs working in education was published in March 2015 ( and she is currently writing her second book “The PA Circus” for PAs in corporate / industry roles.


Andy Nichol

Strategic Business Manager for the Chief Executive's Office, City of Edinburgh Council

Andy is Programme Manager (PMO), Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal/Edinburgh 2050 City Vision within the Strategy & Communications Division of the Chief Executive's office in City of Edinburgh Council.

He was previously the Strategic Business Manager for the Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council. Andy also headed up support for the political groups and councillors. Andy was Business Manager to the Leader of The City of Edinburgh Council between 2003 and 2012, serving Council Leaders from different political parties and in both majority and coalition Administrations. In this role Andy helped: to promote the importance Edinburgh’s role as Scotland’s Capital City; to support a pro-business, wealth creating agenda; and, to improve the Council’s engagement with partner agencies, businesses and Edinburgh residents.

Andy has also worked within central government both on policy matters and in directly supporting Cabinet Ministers having held the posts of Assistant Private Secretary to the First Minister (Donald Dewar and Jim Wallace during his period as Acting First Minister) and Private Secretary to the Minister for Social Justice (Margaret Curran, Iain Gray and Jackie Baillie). 

Andy also worked in the private sector as Senior Policy Adviser within Saltire Public Law and Policy, advising clients on how best to engage with government and to influence and enhance legislation and guidance.

Andy is married with three daughters and lives in Edinburgh.


Jackie Cameron

Owner, Cameron Consulting

Since setting up Cameron Consulting in January 2004 I have been on a wonderful journey.Building on the coaching skills I learned while working with one of the Big4 international accounting firms the range of clients has developed to include senior executives, business owners, new graduates, first time managers and headteachers. Increasingly I have been working with clients during their career transition process. My workshops are aimed at getting people to speak up and have their voices heard and I have been engaged by organisations to help them hear those voices.

Based in Edinburgh, Scotland I am an Associate of the Edinburgh Institute at Edinburgh Napier University and also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ( CIPD).

To demonstrate that I do what I teach I love to find out more about others and you should have no trouble finding a way to get in touch with me that suits you whether it be by phone or email or Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

John Curtis

Managing Director, That Friday Feeling

John Curtis leads the team at Revolutionall, the "home of the Circular Economy". Revolutionall are dedicated to eradicating waste and making the best use of our available human and physical resources.

Having spent 10 years as a civil servant, as the Head of Low Carbon Vehicles and Fuels for the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, John found his passion lay in advocating and making better use of all resources and reducing the costs of inefficiency, for businesses and consumers.

Revolutionall are developing a new centre of excellence and visitor centre to showcase the very best of renewable energy, SMART connected vehicles, sustainable transport and the information communication technology that connects it all up.

John writes a weekly sustainable transport and motoring column for the Daily Record and appears regularly as an expert on BBC Radio.

RevolutionallUK JohnWCurtis

Margaret Williamson

Director, Boardroom Development Ltd

Margaret Williamson is Director of Boardroom Development Limited, the business she established in 1993. She is an experienced strategy and organisation development consultant specialising in working with business and community leaders. She is skilled in a number of different approaches including consulting, coaching, leadership and team development, large group facilitation, multi-cultural/multi-lingual facilitation and appreciative inquiry. Her main area of interest is in the link between strategic outcomes and leadership behaviours.

Margaret helps people at the top of organisations make the connection between their own beliefs, attitudes and behaviours and the outcomes they achieve for staff and customers. She combines a clear understanding and skill in strategic thinking with an ability to design and facilitate innovative learning opportunities that sensitively raise the self-awareness and capability of her clients. She began her consulting career in 1987 with PA Consulting Group where she was a Senior Strategy Consultant in their International Financial Service Group and a key account manager for the public sector in Scotland. She is an experienced non-executive director in the public and not for profit sectors and has executive level experience in the private sector.

Gilly MacMorran

Managing Director, Priority Management (Glasgow) Ltd

Gilly MacMorran is the Managing Director of Priority Management (Glasgow) Ltd, the productivity training specialists.  She established the company in January 1998 and has now grown a successful business in the west of Scotland over the last 14 years.

Gilly gained practical management experience in finance, sales, marketing and training in a variety of roles at Midland Bank, Mars Confectionery and Kettle Foods. With a strong business background and interpersonal skills, Gilly is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable trainer and developer of people. 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. Gilly now has a first class team working with her to deliver the Priority Management programmes.

Priority Management’s reputation for delivering results speaks for itself with a client list including South Lanarkshire Council, Glasgow City Council, East, South & North Ayrshire Councils, Dumfries & Galloway Council, East Dunbartonshire Council and in the private sector:  Cigna Healthcare, Aggreko, Transocean, Maersk, Black & Lizars and Eclipse Blinds in addition to many small and medium sized companies. 

Priority focuses on 2 areas: personal effectiveness & productivity, and project management. Most busy managers are recruited for their skills, brains and leadership but regularly find themselves being ‘work-flowed’ by emails, meetings and paperwork which results in an overload of tasks and rushing to deliver the big things at the last minute. By introducing people to new working processes and by leveraging existing IT, productivity and performance improvements are immediate, tangible and measurable.

Inspirational and impressive, Gilly is dedicated to helping business leaders and managers improve their working practices, leading to higher productivity, less stress and more enjoyable working lives.  A mother of 3 sons also means that she practices what she preaches.

A lively, approachable and impactful presentation style makes Gilly a popular and sought after speaker. 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.

Amy McDonald

CEO, Headtorch

Amy is the founder Headtorch, an organisation that aims to enable people to feel good and be more productive at work. Headtorch creates and delivers dramatic stories in live learning & development sessions and in dramatic e-learning, namely Headtorch WORKS.

This e-learning programme drives towards a workplace that understands that:

  • we all have a responsibility toward our colleagues’ mental health and well-being. If we think someone is unwell then doing nothing is not an option
  • our attitude, behaviour and communication has an impact on our colleagues

With a background in theatre and education, business, mediation, neuro-linguistic programming and coaching, Amy’s purpose is always to provide highly accessible, thought-provoking and engaging sessions.

She has worked with a wide range of organisations including: PepsiCo UK, Crossrail, the NHS, CIPD, Healthy Working Lives and the Scottish Institute of Business Leaders.

Amy hopes you enjoy her interactive presentation - she’ll be very interested in your thoughts and ideas throughout.

Blue Twitter Bird @HeadtorchAmy

Gail Welsh

Winner of the Scottish PA of the Year Award 2014 and Judge of the Award for 2015

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 remained until her retiral in early 2019. 

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.

Joan Serafini

Managing Director, Equator Events and Public Affairs and Judge of PA of the Year Award 2015

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

Lucy McNicoll

Regional Director of Sales - Scotland, Principal Hayley Hotels

Lucy recently joined Principal Hayley Hotels to assist with the merger of the new Scottish Cluster Hotels across Edinburgh and Glasgow, consisting of Grand Central Hotel Glasgow, Blythswood Hotel Glasgow, George Hotel Edinburgh, Roxburghe Hotel Edinburgh & Bonham Hotel Edinburgh. With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry Lucy is looking forward to meeting the ACES delegates.

Picture of Laura Pattison

Laura Pattison

Marketing and Communications Director, Jeans for Genes

I have 18 years marketing and communications experience in the not-for-profit sector, with 13 at a senior level. For the last 12 years I have been managing the Jeans for Genes Day Appeal where I have been instrumental in raising over £35 million.

With a strong background in marketing, my skills and experience lie in recruitment and retention strategies, the production of marketing and advertising materials and securing and managing corporate partnerships plus brand building and PR communications to raise awareness and drive income. I am a creative and strategic leader, with a dedicated and determined disposition and passionately committed to the charity sector.

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The role of the PA is in a state of flux and evolution. 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. That's why events like ACES are so important. 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.

Lucy Brazier, CEO, Executive Secretary Magazine,