Client Story: Value not virtual

Jenni Bowman, pictured above, is The Passionate PA for Bournemouth. She joined The Passionate PA in January 2018 in order to fulfil a life-long ambition of running her own business; doing what she loves to do whilst working alongside like-minded people.

Meet Ali Carmichael

Ali is Founder and Managing Director of Experience UX, a successful business based in Bournemouth. Experience UX helps clients create powerful journeys on their website, app or software – ensuring their customers’ user experience provides convenience, efficiency and confidence.

Ali’s career started in 1999, working within the digital space in Sales, Project Management, and latterly customer experience. He started his own company in 2007 and is now responsible for leading the client services team and building long-term relationships with customers. As the MD, Ali is also charged with shaping business strategy and direction… there is never a dull day!

How it all began, the search for a personal service

Ali had used Virtual Assistant (VA) services in the past. Although these worked for him to some extent, they were pretty transactional and – being all about the experience – Ali knew something was missing. Ali needed someone that could deliver a personal service, really add value to his business and bring new ways of working. He also wanted to ‘see’ his PA – you know, in the old-fashioned way where you sit together at a table and share a cup of coffee (global pandemic permitting!).

The Passionate PA was recommended by a mutual acquaintance who understood this. Within days, Jenni was sat at Ali’s boardroom table, talking about the ins and outs of how a freelance PA could create efficiency, structure, value and – fun!

The team at Experience UX are no strangers to outsourcing. It’s very common in their industry to use outsourced specialists, so to Ali’s mind, this role was no different.

“Ali is a dedicated and loyal business leader. His vision was clear from the beginning and from our first meeting, I couldn’t wait to start helping him clear a backlog and move into a new phase of leadership in his business.”  Jenni Bowman

Getting Started…

Ali had reached a pain point, he realised he was too busy. A classic business issue where the time required to manage everything well, simply outweighs the time available to be in the business. With a growing team, brilliant clients, and a thriving business, it was back-to-back meetings and appointments leaving only the evenings and weekends for admin, planning and thinking. With a family including four young children, this just wasn’t a long-term way of working.

From the outset, Jenni therefore provided:

  • Structured daily email management, leaving Ali to respond only to a handful of emails each day – the most important emails being clearly highlighted
  • Strategic diary management, creating a system and protecting time for all functions of the business and important meeting follow ups
  • Weekly to do list management, helping Ali prioritise what only he could do and either delegate or outsource the rest
  • Regular phone or Zoom check-ins to ensure that nothing was missed and share feedback
  • A monthly face-to-face meeting to review Ali’s emails, diary and priorities – always leading to additional ways to improve communications and leadership
  • Holiday cover to ensure Ali’s return to work (and the inbox) was nowhere near as daunting as it had been previously.

Having this traditional PA service quickly alleviated the feeling of “missing something” for Ali. It was good to share the detail of his work life, and have a skilled organiser creating structure and efficiency – along with the personable approach and camaraderie.

Ali said “After a few months, it was Jenni running my inbox and diary rather than them running me. This resulted in a better service to my clients, more time to lead the business and a better home life too. Jen is so much more than a PA to me now.” 

Finding your Why?

The trust that has been built up over time between Ali and Jenni is strong. With a set routine that proved crucial for business growth, and reliable, honest communications, Jenni has become an integral part of Ali’s working life. The flexibility, understanding and personality on both sides create a relationship full of value.

When Ali decided to ‘Find his Why’ (Simon Sinek), he asked Jenni to help him. Because she knows him so well, understands his business and cares deeply about his happiness and fulfilment, doing this project together was a blast. In complete confidence, Jenni knew just the questions to ask and created succinct, powerful interpretations of his ‘brain dumps’. The outcomes of this project have transformed Ali’s view of his business, the growth path it is now on and his own leadership style.

This project has definitely been the pinnacle of a two-and-a-half-year relationship. Working together throughout Covid has created another opportunity for learning too.

Jenni says “It’s been an absolute privilege to support Ali through such uncertainty and change. Every business owner has found it tough, but Ali has led with purpose, passion and dedication.  When I began my business nearly 3 years ago, I never imagined I would be so fortunate as to work with such inspirational leaders. I plan to continue to support Ali through the uncharted waters that lie ahead and my vision is for Ali to feel supported and to build on the great working relationship we have.”

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