Full Name: Sharon Williams
Business Name: OIVAC & Global VA Week
Business Websites: http://www.oivac.com
Location & Country: Maryland, USA
Sharon brings 25+ years of administrative, marketing and business management experience to her numerous ventures and diverse clientele. She holds a Bachelors of Art degree in Business Management with a minor in Labor Relations. Sharon worked as an Executive Secretary and was promoted to Program Compliance Officer for a local government agency, until she was laid off in 1989. She opened her business in November 1990, specializing in digital dictation and transcription services. Her passion is marketing and event coordination and she has coordinated several 5000+ attendee events, golf tournaments and galas, including a 2008 unofficial Presidents Ball for US President Barack Obama. She is the inaugural winner of the Thomas Leonard Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award and holds several certifications, including Master Virtual Assistant, Professional Author’s Assistant, and Social Marketing Specialist. She has written three publications, Marketing Your VA Practice, Nuts & Bolts of Branding, and Racism in State Government. Her expert team of internationally-based Virtual Assistants handles the responsibilities busy and often overwhelmed executives and entrepreneurs dislike or lack time to complete. The company is open 24/7, always reachable and willing to help.
- Your current or past contribution to the Virtual Assistant industry in Africa
Sharon is an active advocate for the global virtual assistant industry and has promoted the industry worldwide. She is the founder of Global VA Week, the first weeklong intercontinental celebration of the industry. VAs from across Africa planned and participated in the 1st annual countywide-sponsored celebration. In addition, she is the founder of the Online International Virtual Assistants Convention, the global training, networking and mentoring event of which representatives of the African VA community are members of the international steering committee. Sharon is always available to assist VAs that contacts her for mentoring and/or to respond to questions about running a successful practice.
- Why do you think you deserve this award?
I have advocated for and supported the VA industry since its inception and been in the forefront of educating the global business community about professional virtual assistants. I continue to strongly support VAs (individually and collectively) with mentoring and training, and respond to all requests for interviews, clarification and support. During the past 20 years, I have been an innovative thinker, helping to build practices for aspiring, newbies and seasoned entrepreneurs, alike. It is my goal to continue to grow and strengthen the VA industry as well as provide exposure and acceptance of the industry and our professionalism across borders. This award will add to my personal and professional creditability, which will assist in opening business and media doors to communicate our message across all platforms.
- How do you balance career, personal and family life?
Sometimes I wonder myself! I spend many hours growing my business and developing and supporting my multi-VA team. During non-work hours and select weekends, I read, walk the dog and spend time with my granddaughter. Often it is difficult to separate work from home life, especially when developing new projects/products, which I develop/host at last 4 per yearly. However, I take walks and vacation with friends.
- What is your personal inspirational message to Virtual Assistant in Africa?
I understand that virtual assisting is a nascent industry in Africa, one that many African business owners are still unaware of. Use this to your advantage, as there is unlimited opportunity and potential to make connections and grow your business, locally and internationally. However, you must be prepared for and open to success. My strongest recommendation is to become an expert in your preferred field of choice OR in the “much in demand” services, as Virtual Assisting is no longer ONLY typing documents and transcription. There is a wealth of opportunity to specialize and niche your service offerings, particularly in areas such as social media and marketing support, website and blog updating and maintenance, article writing and submissions, or virtual event management, such as seminars, teleseminars, webinars and conferences.
There are industries searching for qualified virtual assistance support, such as coaching, speakers, realtors, and financial planning, to name a few. Avail yourself of all educational opportunities. Network among various industries and identify their member needs. Share your knowledge and experience. You will be recognized as an expert in your chosen niche, which will allow you to charge what you are worth and live the lifestyle you desire. If you need a role model, look at other VAs in your country that are achieving their goals. Reach out to them and ask for their advice. Now don’t inundate them or attempt to consume all of their time. Show initiative and join VA groups or save funds to enroll in a training program. Most important, don’t give up. Success may not happen overnight, but when the opportunity comes you MUST be prepared. Take charge of your destiny, be prepared and step through that door when it opens. I invite you to join the Alliance for Virtual Businesses and contact me personally if I can be of assistance.