DISCOVER DXB: Having a virtual assistant with My PA



We’re doing our best to fight the slide into becoming ‘so Dubai’. We regularly catch the Metro, take a packed lunch into the office and we still know how to work a vacuum.

Having a PA seemed both daunting and a luxury. What would they do, we wondered. Pretty much everything, it turns out.

MyPA UAE is a Dubai-based service offering an extra pair of hands and promises to become the 25th hour in your day.

After a quick meeting with our PA, Helen, we agreed to send over a ‘to do’ list. But work was so busy, a week passed before we found time. Like a small child learning to tie their shoelaces, we were reluctant to ask for help. However, once we drew up an SOS of office emergencies, we felt like we’d swapped fumbling with tricky laces to the easy sweep of Velcro.

MyPA offers traditional office services including dictation and note taking. But Helen was willing to turn her hand to more diverse requests.

Transforming our drawer full of business cards into a neat spreadsheet? Not a problem.

So we set our office angel a more complicated task – replace a missing competition prize for one of our beloved readers. Postal issues might have left us frustrated but Helen sourced a replacement and dispatched it to our office the same day. We’re impressed.

MyPA will also smooth over the bumps in Dubai life outside of the workplace. Booking doctors appointments and scheduling childcare are common requests and with longer-term bookings they can take over the management of your diary in and out of work.

We toyed with asking Helen to take over weekly phone calls to our mother, following a close script of “yes, it is hot” and “how’s dad?”. But instead we handed over a bag of clothes that had been awaiting repair since we moved to Dubai – one quick trip to the tailors and they were back in our wardrobe the following day.

Finally, the ultimate task – cleaning up our inbox. Confident that she was up to the task, we handed Helen the log ins to our personal email and instructed her to do a hatchet job. Newsletters from gyms we quit a year ago? Gone. Special offers from supermarkets back in the UK. Binned. She dutifully unsubscribed from every useless electronic missive and our server breathed a sigh of relief.

Although we found it strange at first, having a PA for 10 days definitely made our life easier. It’s ideal for new or small businesses that don’t need a full-time member of staff and you don’t need to worry about visas or sick days. MyPA offers bespoke packages and we think a longer-term booking would have seen Helen become even more useful – perhaps even taking over the weekly catch-ups with our parents.

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So good, she bought the company

Fiona Swaffield become managing partner of MyPA in 2014 after being a happy customer. The events agency manager moved to Dubai in 2000 and found a busy social and work life left her with little spare time.

She has a simple maths for using a PA: “80 per cent of the time at work, you spend time doing things that aren’t your core skills.

“I remember my first meeting (with MyPA), when I told them I didn’t have much for them to do. Within six weeks, I had two PAs.”

So how did it change things for her? “I got my life back,” she smiles. “I have enough time now to run two companies.”


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