Our Advisory Board
Here at APVA we are passionate about the future of the VA profession.
APVA aims to be one of the leading professional body and organisation for virtual and remote based independent business owners including VAs, Social Media Managers and Online Business Consultants in the UK, Europe and across the globe.
We train, we educate and above all we champion virtual independent professionals and support and encourage our members to be professional, safe business owners. APVA sets best practice and professional standards across the profession.
It is our mission as a Board and an organisation to elevate the profile of our growing profession, ensure professional standards are met whilst changing the perception of the role and improving the industry for those internally and externally.
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”
Holly Partridge, CEO, APVA
Find out more about Holly
Holly started her VA Business – Pear Tree in 20219 after she was made redundant while on maternity leave and wanted to find a way to work around my family. She quickly fell in love with being self employed and began working with small business owners to support them in their day to day running of their businesses and in particular building online courses, managing memberships, creating email automations and email marketing.
After launching Kickstarters our 8 week mentoring programme via APVA, Holly became CEO of APVA when founder Charlotte stepped down in July 2021. She is continuing to lead the organisation with a mission to support, nurture and champion the VA & Freelance industry, and to create a safe space for high performing online businesses to collaborate, knowledge share and continue their professional development.
As an industry body the APVA supports & trains aspiring and existing VAs & online business owners and supports existing VAs to maintain professionalism as well as grow their businesses. Through their pioneering accreditation they are committed to regulating and supporting the industry as it grows and run as a not-for-profit organisation.
Outside of work Holly can be found binge watching medical dramas, doing jigsaw puzzles and running around after her two young daughters.
Advisory Board Member
Find out more about Heather
In 2018, Heather set up Enigmatic Business Solutions from her home office in Dunfermline, Scotland. It was definitely the right time to set up her own business, realise a lifelong ambition, leave the commute to Edinburgh behind and channel her energies and expertise into a new and exciting challenge.
She enjoyed an amazing 25-year career in Edinburgh working as an Executive Assistant and Business Manager supporting some of Scotland’s top CEOs, Boards of Management and C-Suite level executives. Some of her highlights included working on a £100m construction project in the education sector spanning over 6 years and working in a 5-star hotel where she loved meeting the celebrity guests. Her favourite guest though has to be the Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, for his wit and humour, he has us all in stitches laughing at him.
As an advocate of lifelong learning, Heather completed a BA (Hons) Business Management (1st class) and an MBA at Edinburgh Napier University. Continuing to learn is a critical part of her life and one she absolutely loves. Heather continues to mentor students to degree and Master level, by sharing her expertise and experience, and finds it very rewarding as she nurtures them to achieve their academic goals and graduate. CPD is very important to Heather and she has attained Fellow Practitioner status of the Executive and Personal Assistants Association.
Starting her business in 2018, there was so much to learn to transition from corporate employee to business owner, Heather welcomed the opportunity to join the Nurture programme and it proved to be invaluable, it was a great foundation to set up her business and provided her with a collaborative and supportive community to share ideas and solve problems.
Heather is delighted to join the APVA Advisory Board to offer her expertise, insights, experience and passion to ensure that the VA industry continues to go from strength to strength. She is fully supportive of accreditation and believes APVA is definitely leading in the way in pushing the boundaries and championing high standards to provide a professional environment and a clear way to stand out professionally for all VAs and online business managers.
Outside of work, Heather is a huge Disney fan and loves visiting the Walt Disney World in Orlando with her husband Dave (although she is far too scared now to go on the big rollercoasters!!). Plans are already in place for her next big adventure and she would love to go back to New York too. She also loves reading, live concerts and eating out. Two claims to fame are that she has been to the top of the Forth Road Bridge between Fife and Edinburgh (absolutely amazing view) and she has been in a prison cell, but that is another story!!!
Advisory Board Member
Find out more about Sheona
After 35 years working in both private and corporate sectors Sheona has gained wide and extensive experience working in business. Over this time she has worked in the core areas of procurement, processes, and customer service.
She initially enjoyed 12 exciting years working for an independent retailer, learning all the responsibilities required to run a business and giving her experience of working across the areas of sales, marketing, bookkeeping, procurement, and customer service. It is what Sheona refers to as her on the job apprenticeship in Business Management.
Having started as the Saturday girl she rose to become Deputy Manager until in 1999 she moved into the corporate world working for an international distributor as a buyer. Working in this demanding environment Sheona was able to further develop her skills in systems and processes. Here she successfully led a team to assess, create and deliver a new operations system that was also effectively rolled out across the rest of their European Group.
In 2007 this business was bought out but sadly Sheona was unable to relocate, so she took the opportunity to start a family and was blessed with the arrival of her daughter in 2008. When Sheona went to return to work she was faced with two offers. One was a full-time job as a buyer that after childcare and fuel costs would leave her with £20 in her pocket each month, or the other a part time job in retail that was only round the corner where she could work around bringing up the family and keep her pay.
Looking to maintain a healthy work life balance Sheona took the retail role, this time working for national company ASDA. Always wanting to learn she was able to tap into their colleague development programme until eventually being offered a supervisor role. This would have meant working a rota of very unsociable hours, so it was of great interest when in 2015 a conversation with a new contact mentioned they knew someone who was working as a VA. This immediately grabbed Sheonas interest and which after further investigation was clear it offered the flexible lifestyle she was looking for. Plus it opened an exciting new opportunity for her to run her own business. Thus Trent Virtual Assistant was successfully launched in March 2016.
Based in Nottingham, Sheona has been running Trent VA for the last 7 years providing business management support to micro businesses in the construction and services sector and was lucky to be introduced to VIP VA very early on. As VIPVA grew to become APVA Sheona was honoured to become a founding member of the organisation.
Over the last 3 years Trent VA has continued to grow and now includes a team of accredited UK VAs supporting clients to understand, create, manage their processes. Our clients enjoy having the organisational foundation and consistency that makes it easier for them to scale and grow.
Outside of work Sheona is a self-confessed stationary hoarder whose favourite place is a bookshop, preferably with tea and cake. Away from such temptations Sheona enjoys reading, listening to music, and sewing.
Sheona is excited to be joining the APVA board to share her experiences and further support their mission to provide the UK VA industry with a beneficial and accredited professional body. She strongly believes in supporting both new and established VAs to be seen as a valued profession and she looks forward to helping both APVA and individuals grow to fulfil their business goals.
Rachel Locke, Director, Arlo PA Services Ltd
Advisory Board Member
Find out more about Rachel
Rachel Locke set up Arlo PA Services following a career break to raise her young family. Originally from London, Rachel built her career as an Executive Assistant working for investment banks and financial services companies in both London and Europe.
In 2015, Rachel knew that returning to work, commuting and juggling childcare was something she no longer wanted to do so she decided to become set up her own business as a Virtual Assistant. Her skills in organisation, finance, administration and time management were exactly what many small business owners were lacking and therefore willing to pay for.
In 2018, Rachel was delighted to win the North East VA of the Year. Winning was the culmination of a three-year journey from London to Durham which saw Rachel uproot her family and change her life completely.
The small North East town where Rachel is based is buzzing with small businesses and entrepreneurs who perhaps aren’t in a position to employ someone, so hiring a virtual assistant was the perfect solution, although Rachel now works with clients throughout the country.
Arlo will shortly celebrate its eighth birthday and Rachel now counts management consultancy businesses, executive coaches, psychologists, photographers, doll makers and medical translators amongst her very varied client base.
Whilst Rachel loved her career in City, the impact of what she did wasn’t always visible. Working directly with her clients, she now gets to see the results of her work first hand and the peace of mind her support brings her clients gives her a huge sense of satisfaction.