How the UK VA Conference 2023 helped to cement my resilience for the future

Sam Hogwood shares her experience of the UK VA Conference 2023 and UK VA Awards 2023 in this guest blog: “How the UKVA Conference 2023 helped to cement my resilience for the future”.

A lot can happen in a year!

I recently wrote a blog about how a very special event pretty much helped me turn my business around in 2022

– and how a community of people can help you completely revolutionise your life.

When I attended the UK VA Conference last year, I had no idea what to expect. It was an incredibly positive event and place to be, and the people there made you feel like you were part of something very special. This year’s follow-up – the #UKVAConference23 was no exception.

On Friday 13th October Bournemouth came alive with VAs from up and down the country, sharing what can only be described as the best VA event of the year! I drove down from Kent a day early and met with a good VA pal I’ve known for longer than the community we’re both a part of – and for another VA client meeting on Thursday. It gave me a well-earned day of respite after a bout of covid and a very busy year. The sea air was just what I needed.

The building blocks of success are within us

Thursday evening saw a group of us get together over dinner and drinks so we could rekindle old contacts face to face, get a big hug from our cohorts, and generally pick up conversations from where we last left them. I swear when you get a room full of VAs together, you can hear them for miles!

Friday 13th was the lucky day of the actual conference, and it didn’t disappoint. We were welcomed with packed pink VACT goodie bags and got to settle in with teas, coffees and all our favourite sweeties to hear Jane Thomas of Premier Life Skills – get the conference theme of ‘Resilience’ off with a bang. A lot of us needed to tap into raising our resilience after another rollercoaster year as business owners so I know we were looking forward to it. Jane spoke about resilience being a fundamental trait by focusing on creating a healthier work environment, made possible through effective teamwork, keeping our strength up and tapping into our own drive and ambition while always looking after our wellbeing. She took us through a brilliant Resilience Core Questionnaire and tapped into our ©motivational maps which was a real eye opener for me!

Alan and Emily Braithwaite from Yellow Tuxedo brought us back from our post lunch slump with a fantastic and fun talk about how to be visible in the noise of the internet. Not your average marketing company, they told us their story and how they learned how to effectively stand out from the crowd. They had enlightening tips with a whole approach of your chosen macro content (your core message), and a sensible and honest approach to how to be YOU in the noise of the ether that surrounds us.  Some of us aren’t natural shouters in the realm of being a business owner in the digital age, and they reassured me you don’t have to be in order to be seen in the right way. Focus on simple tactics, the right content and connection was the key message of the day.

Then we got to meet Lauren Malone business mindset coach, mentor and resident BBC expert. Her talk was about money mindset and building a resilient and abundant attitude towards wealth. Lauren is extremely passionate about challenging business owners to look at their money stories to create an abundant and wealthy world. Lauren believes that whoever you are, whatever your upbringing or circumstances, you deserve to be fucking rich – and I’m inclined to agree with that sentiment 100%! Her talk was funny, deeply connecting, and she’s a master of her craft. I loved this one and know this is something aIot of us want to focus more on.

Then one of the final highlights was an incredible and gripping talk by Ryan Ramsey – a servant leader and a veteran; a man who is also passionate about what he does and helping others to do the same. He was a commander in the Royal Navy Submarine Service and his story about a “sweaty Sunday”, where he and his team got into very turbulent waters on a long deployment, was utterly compelling. When he told how he used his skills as a leader to stay calm and be there for his team, especially when they had a dangerous situation on board with people dropping like flies around him, you could hear a pin drop. The room was silent, save for Ryan speaking, while we all listened with bated breath … and when there was a twist in the story you could hear us all gasp. It was an incredible true story, and it was a real-life example of how to overcome the unexpected and stay resilient even when you’re put to the test.


Everyone’s a winner


After all that, we quickly turned our day attire to glad rags for a night of celebration for the VA awards, with cocktails, dinner and dancing our posh shoes off if our feet could take it. And what a celebration it was! The nerves were palpable, the air was electric and each one of those finalists deserved to be there, winner or not. I share the winners here and I look forward to what 2024 brings everyone – a number of these amazing VAs are good friends, and I genuinely can’t wait to see what the future holds for them:

The dates for the #UKVAConference24 have already been announced and I wonder what it will have in store for us. I think this value packed, warm, friendly and fun VA event will be a regular date for the annual diary and I’m looking forward to it already.

My business as a copywriter and researcher has seen growth in the last year and although slow and steady wins the race is all part of my business adventure, I wouldn’t have had the spur of confidence I’ve had in the last year if I hadn’t been a part of the 2022 event.

Thank you to Amanda Johnson of VACT for such an awesome VA event for all of us in 2023 and to Laura Taylor who supported her throughout the organisation and delivery of the event itself.

If anyone is thinking about coming along to the Conference in 2024, come and join us! You can be a VA – woman or man – from all walks of life, and community, offering different services – services that people are crying out for! You’ll be very welcome when you join us. And you can take in the beachfront sea? air as part of the experience. Perhaps you could turn it into a mini break like I did.



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