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Way back in 2012, I won the NZ Virtual Assistant of the Year Award, sponsored by Xero, BeMyVA (USA) and Private Box. The NZ Business Review published an article at the time, ‘The PA is dead, long live the VA’, written by Darren Greenwood.

It’s certainly been a rapid change in the industry from when I started back in 2006 when the term Virtual Assistant (VA) was practically unheard of in New Zealand. If people I spoke to had any idea, they generally thought it related to an answerphone message or something that happened offshore, generally in India, how things have changed.

The industry is now thriving, and if Covid had any positive outcomes (there cannot be many), companies now fully appreciate that virtual working is possible; it can be very productive. Some have even enjoyed the lack of commute. Perhaps my favourite comment was from a law firm that always thought they could not use a VA or work virtually, but post-Covid admitted it was possible; it was a different way of thinking. Since 2020 VA Agencies and Freelancers have been growing rapidly, with demand continuing to rise.

Who uses a VA and what do they do?

Companies use VA’s for various reasons. The main being that the business wants to concentrate on what they are good at; trades, beauty salons, PT’s, SME’s etc. They are working in their industry all day and want to outsource the finance, creative and general admin areas to free up their time and use an expert in the area. 

Others are one-person businesses that need help or want their company to appear larger than it is. You’d be amazed how many ‘about us’ web pages include photos of VA’s who appear to be staff in the business but work as VA’s, either contracting or freelancers.

Many use a VA without even realising it. If you employ anyone doing something online, they are virtual and, therefore, a VA. Think of graphic designers, web designers and bookkeepers. Even multinational companies employ VA’s as they may have expertise at a level their staff do not.

Perhaps the most significant misunderstanding as the years went on was regarding ‘what a Virtual Assistant can do’. Although we tried to change the name to ‘Virtual Professionals’ after the first conference, the term from the USA stuck. Some of us felt the word ‘assistant’ undervalued what this position meant. Often a VA will specialise in an area and have expert knowledge gained over many years.

The Legacy Award – Sponsored by the Virtual Assistant Network New Zealand

Best Virtual Assistant Specialty or Niche Award sponsored by the Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers

This is a reason I am particularly proud to be a finalist in the ‘Best Virtual Assistant Specialty or Niche Award’ sponsored by the Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers. I specialise in Mailchimp and am very pleased to be alongside fellow finalists and friends Kellie Beaumont from ‘Released‘, whose niche is working with trades to run their daily admin, and Kate MacGregor of ‘Out of Office‘ specialising in Kajabi, the online training platform.

Debra Metcalfe, then owner of Admin Corp, organised the initial 2012 awards. After the event, we went on to have regular meetups across New Zealand and planned to create a larger network of VA’s. Life sometimes takes turns, and as I continued to hone my specialities, Debra went in other directions. Hopefully, one day her vast knowledge shall return to the industry. However, I was delighted to see that Samantha Browne of ‘My Girl Friday‘ started the New Zealand Virtual Assistant Network in 2019. It is an enormous success, and the online directory of NZ VA’s a helpful resource for anyone needing to outsource work. Her partnership with Jo Jensen of Strictly Savvy sees them running regular podcasts and training for those new to the industry. Together they launched the awards this year. Their professionalism, personalities and passion for the industry shine through. The sector could no be in better hands under their joint venture The VA Foundry.

I am delighted to see so many talented and professional VA’s take part in the awards this year. From newcomers to full agencies and freelancers, there is scope for everyone to have entered.

The Legacy Award – Sponsored by the Virtual Assistant Network New Zealand

Marion Jackson of My Virtual Assistant shares the finalist spot with me in The Legacy Award. It feels like a time warp as we were in the same position back in 2012, have remained friends and referred each other since.


The community of VA’s that Sam and Jo have created is outstanding. I think Katharine Hopkins of 1 Hour a Day Ltd summed it up beautifully by adding this quote to Facebook, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

I’m very much looking forward to celebrating everyone’s success at the awards night in September and see another VA take the ‘VA of the Year’ title. It is also the weekend when Outbox Ltd turns 15 years old – I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than with like-minded dedicated, funloving VA’s. 

Here’s to the next 15 years of the VA industry in New Zealand.

Tickets are on sale at https://bit.ly/37ktNwB.