At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I generally wake up around 7am, a bit earlier in the sunny summer months and a bit later during winter months (the light makes a huge difference to me)
What is the first thing you do?
I’ve been trying to stop this but the first thing I do is check my phone. I’m American living in Europe so with the time difference, sometimes I have family details or news to catch up on that happened over night. Then I go straight to make my coffee
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I read the Politico playbooks (Brussels, Paris, EU Influence), Financial Times Daily Digest + Moral Money, and then I check my Google Alerts and OPP for various client or research topics. Outside of daily updates, I always check The New York Times, The Economist, and Le Monde for general news. This is why I need my coffee.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I try to answer emails and catch up on news/media monitoring for an hour before I start work, whether remotely or in the office. Remotely I start around 8:30, in the office closer to 9:15 but I catch up on mails on my commute.
How many times a day do you check emails?
Because of the client nature of my work I am checking emails constantly, if I’m not in a meeting, but I file the important ones to save for later rather than responding to all of them right away.
When is your first meeting?
I aim for no meetings before 10:00 so I have time to sort out emails and schedules beforehand, but 9:00 am happens. Thankfully no 8:00 am very often
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I try to keep Mondays for internal meetings and core partners. I tend to schedule trainings I deliver for Wednesdays or Thursday as that’s when participants are most active. Fridays tend to be catch up days for me on internal work.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
I deliver a lot of trainings as part of the education component of my job: if you count trainings, it’s probably 75% external and 25% internal. But in terms of pure meetings it’s about 50:50. I also spend a lot of time on internal meetings keeping the various team projects on track and checking in with staff
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I have turned off all breaking news notifications on my phone: it’s one of the best things I have done for anxiety. When the EU news cycle ends, the American one is taking off, so it’s also helped my sleep schedule. It’s one reason I find the morning newsletters/ curated roundups to be helpful: dedicated news time. If there’s truly breaking news, I’m sure I will get a Whatsapp about it.
How do you organize your calendar?
Client work and training schedules vary a lot depending on our projects, so it varies. I prefer to frontload internal team work early in the week so later in the week can be used for follow-up and check ins. For client work, their schedule is my schedule
How do you take notes?
At my own peril, I still greatly prefer handwritten notes when I’m leading the meeting. I’m working on finding a better system before I find myself buried in notepads. For meetings where I’m designated notetaker, I use Google docs and thankfully so does my team.
What is your relationship to Excel?
It’s probably related to the handwritten notes preference, but I visualize everything so much better on word docs or on paper docs. However, I recognize the benefit of Excel especially for things like event planning or action plans
What is your favorite app & why?
Slack works well for our team and gets us off WhatsApp, I’m pretty emotionally attached to my Google Calendar + Google Task reminders. And certainly DeepL translation for when you have to work across multiple languages quickly
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I have a very American habit of skipping lunch and eating a weird 3pm meal at my desk, but when in office I try to enjoy lunch time and be with our team (we also have a great view). I prioritize coffees for external meetings and probably have 3 a week.
Which time do you go to bed?
I’m a night owl, so I try for 11pm, but sometimes I do my best work at midnight (this is why I avoid 9 am meetings)
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
Politico Podcasts are quite good, especially EU Confidential. I have a pretty good circle of people I follow on Linkedin who post regularly and often take me in interesting directions in terms of suggested articles. One Policy Place (OPP) is good for the nitty gritty
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
As a woman with no kids sometimes it feels like it should be easier for me than for others, but in some ways it’s harder to turn off. It’s easy to just keep going and going. Being friends with people in very different professions, setting an alarm on my phone to stop looking at news/internet before bedtime, and making sure I have time to travel and recharge is helpful.
What do you do to unwind?
During the week: lots and lots of walks or runs. It’s easier when you work from home but when I’m stressed, a walk around the block or a coffee outside and a change of scene can unblock me. If you see me stomping around the EU Quarter with giant headphones on, that’s the “in-office” version.
On the weekend or after work: I try to only do art. I paint, draw, write, read (fiction). It’s good to cultivate the other parts of yourself too.
How does your desk look?
My physical desk is clean and full of flowers. My cat is probably knocking them all over. My computer desktop organization….let’s not go there.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
Yes, mostly if traveling but also sometimes it’s a habit.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
Aaron McLoughlin makes me laugh and also teaches me something in each of his blogs, so that one springs to mind. And of course our Founder Alberto Alemanno has taught me pretty much everything I know. I also think Sophie Pornschlegel is doing great work.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
I really try not to. I would say that I keep an eye out for urgent matters but day to day can wait.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I really loved “Free: Coming of Age at the End of History” by Lea Ypi. For fiction, I just finished “A General Theory of Oblivion” by José Eduardo Agualusa and I loved it.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
I think there’s a level of empathy that will be required to succeed in breaking down the silos between what is traditionally considered “NGO work” and what is traditionally considered “PA work”. The societal challenges we face are overlapping, complex, and will only become more so: I think a good PA pro will need to recognize the interests of diverse stakeholders and be able to persuade clients to do the same. It’s about being proactive and not reactive.
Do you prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, and why/why not?
I don’t use TikTok and I deleted my Facebook because I found it was draining my energy and had nothing to do with my work. I would say LinkedIn has become an app that has surprisingly good resource sharing and ideas sharing now, I use that the most. Twitter I log on for updates to more breaking news but it can become exhausting. It’s good for live events.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
We’re a nonprofit with around 35 employees all working on various levels of political engagement. We’re now based in four cities: Brussels, Milan, Paris, Madrid.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
We’re a nonprofit, so it’s a little different, but we work with companies and the key is alignment: don’t separate your PA team from your comms team from your product development. Everyone needs to be communicating and on the same page: if your lobbying and political activity doesn’t reflect what you’re promoting in PR or what your actual company is doing, consumers, employees and shareholders will notice. So, in a sense, your PA can be wherever you want it, as long as it accurately reflects your core work and political footprint