Meet our 2015 Manchester PA of the Year

Debbie Grimshaw - Brother UK

I'm sure some of you already know my face from the Manchester PA Network Events and from the Awards but let me tell you a little more about me.


I am the eldest of three sisters, Julie is a childminder and Tracey is a care assistant.  My Dad is 77 and retired from Brother himself after working for the company for 42 years.  Sadly I lost my Mum to breast cancer when I was just 21 years old, 8 weeks before I was due to get married.  I have two daughters, Emily 23 and Olivia 17.  My partner of 5 years is Andy.  He has been one of my friends for over 20 years as he also works at Brother.  He has two sons, Calan 17 and Logan 14 and we have two dogs Little Ted and Lilly.  That readers is my lovely family introduced.  


At work I am Senior Executive Assistant to Phil Jones, Managing Director of Brother UK, the Information, Communication and Technology Company. 


During a 27-year career with the business, I have provided EA and PA support to the senior leadership team at Brother UK and Brother International Europe.  In my current role, I manage the complex and demanding diary of Phil Jones, one of the North West’s prominent business leaders.


Alongside my role as an EA at Brother, I also have a key role in our corporate responsibility and community engagement projects. These include mentoring Year 10/11 students at schools local to our offices and working with the Hallé Impresarios Project, a scheme which introduces students to music and the insight of how to run a business.  I am also on the judging panel for the Pride of Tameside Business Awards. 


I continually invest in my own personal development and expand my horizons by flexing myself in all areas of the business to ensure I have a thorough knowledge of the organisation, including the induction of new people.  This gives me an insight of how it feels to be new to the business and allows me to demonstrate our company values because as EA to the business leader it is important that new starters know who I am and where to find me.


My passion to promote the role of the PA drives me to coach and mentor key colleagues in my peer group, creating a strong sense of togetherness amongst our PA team at Brother UK.  I share best practice and strive to be the best possible role model I can be, as I too learn so much myself by helping others to grow.


Outside of Brother, I volunteer for a Children's Charity called The Convoy of Happiness.  They provide fun day trips for children with autism and disabilities whilst also giving their families and carers the opportunity to meet people facing the same challenges in life.  My work is to take care of the bulk of their admin and manage their social media channels and website so that the Trustees can put all their efforts into fundraising rather than using their precious time doing administration.  I can honestly say that volunteering is one of the most rewarding things you can do.  There are so many little charities out there who need help.  By creating their social media channels and also using my network to spread the word, the fabulous work of Convoy is now much more established in the community and has a greater reach for potential fundraising.  Although the work takes up some of my personal time, the pleasure you feel in seeing those little smiling faces when you join them on a day trip is priceless.


One more key fact about me personally is that I claim to be Manchester’s biggest George Michael fan and my dream job is to be his PA…so if anyone has any connections, please let me know J




So that's a little about me, now what about my connection with MPAN?  Well I went along to my first event and joined the network in November 2013, very nervous, on my own and not knowing what to expect.  Because our business operates from outside of central Manchester I hadn't heard of MPAN before and I wasn't active on Twitter at that time either. 


Little did I know back then the impact that joining the network was going to have on my career, my personal development and me as a person.   


Since that day being an active member of MPAN has raised my profile greatly in the EA/PA world and my network has extended way beyond Manchester and the UK, I am now connected with EAs/PAs all over the world and have made friendships with people I used to read about.

I have written articles for various industry magazines, had my career showcased in Exceptional EA Real Careers interview, been interviewed by Sheila Anderson, Founder of EUMA North West and have sat on a University of Manchester PA panel.  I've been runner up in Office Show PA Contributor of the Year 2014 & 2015, won a prestigious WeAreTheCity Rising Star Award and in November 2015 I received the highlight of my 27 year career being crowned Manchester PA of the Year 2015.  

Someone said to me the other day "but Debbie you must have the ingredients in you to achieve these awards".  Well maybe I do and I am slowly starting to believe in myself, but if it hadn't been for that day when I took the decision to be brave and go and see what Manchester PA Network was all about, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had the same fantastic platform to launch my career.

Because of MPAN I have made so many great friends, business contacts, had the opportunity to view venues and I have the Google of Manchester at my fingertips…there's not a question you can put to the network that someone won't come back on with help, suggestions or even a solution for you.  It's greatly improved my confidence, boosted my personal profile, given me personal development and helped me to recognise that having been a PA for 27 years there is so much knowledge and experience I can share and give back, inspiring others to believe in themselves and achieve their dreams.

So what's next…


Well I am truly honoured to have been invited to sit on the board of the EPAA (Executive & Personal Assistants Association) which launched in January 2016 and whilst awards are wonderful to receive, I want to go out there now and make a difference in the PA community.  Alongside the other inspiring Assistants on the board of the EPAA I should be able to achieve that.


So thank you Manchester PA Network founders and members, your support and encouragement has helped me to achieve my dreams.   If I can be of any assistance to you, please follow me on Twitter @DebbieG_EA or connect with me on Linkedin as Debbie Grimshaw or drop me an email