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Joanne Hawkins

Joanne Hawkins is the owner of Executive VPA. Since 2012, her company has worked with businesses on making them as efficient and productive as possible whilst providing back office, transactional and operational support through a team of Virtual PAs.

EXPLAIN A TYPICAL WEEK IN YOUR WORKING LIFE: My week is normally split between on-site client work, networking and client/associate meetings.  I do make sure I have one day a week in my own office to plan and prepare for the week

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUR INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW? I feel education of business owners can still be a challenge, the understanding of how businesses can work with Virtual PAs and the benefit and value they bring to the business sometimes still needs explaining but we’re working on it

AND WHAT ARE THE BIG OPPORTUNITIES? The expertise in the Industry is growing fast, giving us the opportunity to work with an expanded variety of businesses.  Business owners that do ‘get it’ are keen for VAs to be an integral part of their growth and success

HOW DO YOU GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR STAFF? We don’t employ staff but do use Associates who are all experts in their own fields.  I feel it’s more important to ‘walk the walk’ and show our clients that we believe totally in using the right people for the right job and that this doesn’t have to be in an employed capacity

WHAT WAS YOUR LAST MEETING ABOUT, HOW LONG DID IT LAST, AND WAS IT PRODUCTIVE? I work with a Rugby League Club and attended a pre-match meeting, it lasted 1.5 hours and was very productive, we need to make sure that everything runs smoothly on match days, H&S is taken care of and the whole fan experience is covered

HOW MANY EMAILS DO YOU GET IN A DAY, AND HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO READ THEM? As I work for a number of clients, I have email addresses for them all, I probably receive around 50-60 each day, thankfully I have a VA myself who manages these when I’m with clients so it’s pretty manageable

DO YOU ANSWER WORK CALLS OR EMAILS AT HOME? WHAT’S THE RIGHT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? I am a huge believer in Lifeblend rather than Work-Life Balance, I allow myself to be available for clients in the evening and weekends should it be needed and they also know there are specific times that I’m not available, it’s all in the relationship for me

HOW DO YOU HOPE YOUR COLLEAGUES WOULD DESCRIBE YOU? I would hope all my associates would consider me approachable and always there to encourage and support them, I am very open with sharing my experiences and vision for their own businesses

BREXIT – WHAT’S YOUR VIEW OF WHAT IT’S ALL GOING TO MEAN? Personally it isn’t a great option for me, we have a house in Spain and I worry about how Brexit will affect that.  On a work front, I don’t know how that will affect potential financial issues with oversees associates and clients. Time will tell !

HIGHLIGHTS OR LOWLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR? 2 years after starting the business I won North of England VA of the Year which was a real highlight for me.  It means so much when I meet a new VA who tells me that they have been told ‘You must speak to Joanne, she’s the Go To person for VAs’

PET HATES? Being blatantly sold to at networking events, I want to build relationships with people and see what opportunities may come

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF SOME WISE ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Perception is a dangerous thing, never presume when you walk into a room of business owners that they are all totally confident and happy with what they’re doing.  Be comfortable with yourself and your own ability

HOW DO YOU RELAX AWAY FROM WORK? I have 2 grandchildren who we spend a lot of time with and we all love rugby league.  Thankfully my granddaughter is now a big fan so we follow Salford Red Devils home and away

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS SPECIAL ABOUT CHESHIRE, AND ITS BUSINESS COMMUNITY? The North is very ‘real’ and ‘genuine’ overall but we have such a mix of people in Cheshire, there is always someone you can get on and do business with.  The businesses in Warrington in particular have a great community and having recently joined the Warrington Business Exchange I’m excited to get more involved

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULDN’T KNOW. In 2003 I had a small cleaning/ironing company but had to sell it because I had both of my feet broken and reset, meaning I couldn’t work for a few months, not long after we moved over to Spain where we bought a plot of land and built a house.

YOU CAN TAKE ONE BOOK, ONE FILM AND ONE CD ONTO A DESERT ISLAND – WHAT WOULD THEY BE? Anything by James Patterson (My brain is always ticking over so I need something that has short chapters !). A film I could watch again and again is Eat, Love Pray.  One of my all-time favourite albums is Parachutes by Coldplay.

YOUR FIVE DREAM DINNER PARTY GUESTS, DEAD OR ALIVE? Anyone that could make me laugh, Peter Kay / Victoria Wood / Caroline Aherne / Tom Hardy / Micky Flanagan

WHAT WOULD YOU COOK FOR THEM…? My favourite dish from living in Spain was Paella, I was taught by a Spanish neighbour and pretty proud of my dish.



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