At which time do you wake up in the morning?
Never later than 06:30 – I have two small children, Patrick and Gigi – and together they are a highly effective alarm clock!
What is the first thing you do?
Read the news and check the latest headlines. I’m a news addict – if its not checking the news I will be firing up a coffee.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
Politico, BBC News, Guardian, the Times, and the FT.
At which time do you go into the office?
If I am at home its normally after the nursery run, so 09:00am. I travel a fair amount with work, to various UK cities, including London. In which case I will start work on the morning train, at 07:30. I prefer early starts to late shifts.
How many times a day do you check emails?
Too many times, is the short answer. I organise my to do list on Outlook, so its often something I go back to. If I am in meetings, working on a project to deadline or events I’ll not check in though. We now have Teams, Whatsapp and other ways to keep in touch (for better or worse).
When is your first meeting?
It depends, but usually 09:30. When meetings drift too late – say 5pm onwards, I am not at my best.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I’m not a fan of pointless meetings – so I am quite ruthless about what I will and will not attend. That said, I try to keep Fridays and Mondays as meeting free as possible to let me get on with projects.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
I think I have twice as many internal meetings as external ones – which for now seems the right balance.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I don’t, I’ll check in over my lunch or if something ‘big’ is happening I might have rolling news on in the background, depending on where I am working.
How do you organize your calendar?
Around trains, childcare, my wife’s diary and the things II can make most impact doing. Sometimes planning my diary feels like four dimensional chess.
How do you take notes?
I confess this my weak point. Pen and paper is the usual way, but my notes are often written with other ideas that I have during a meeting. I also don’t feel like I am actively listening and participating if I am jotting away in meetings.
What is your relationship to Excel?
Troubled and guilt ridden.
What is your favorite app & why?
Spotify. How else do I get my music fix?
How many external lunches do you have a week?
None – gone are the days of lengthy lunches.
Which time do you go to bed?
No later than 10.30pm
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
Politico is a good source, but nothing beats the right events to catch up with fellow professional and get the latest gossip.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
Disconnect from work completely when you get chance, don’t check in – just check out and create your own time. Sometimes its best to walk away from stressful situations and reflect rather than react immediately (this has taken me time to learn, and I am not perfect at it).
What do you do to unwind?
Walking in Dales, near where I live. Music is the other, especially live music. Caveat – I have two small kids, so it’s rare to completely unwind.
How does your desk look?
Tidy. Clear desk, clear head, I guess.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
I do, often they are brisque though.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
He’ll not enjoy the name check, but Steven Coventry, the Head of Government Affairs at Siemens UK. Contrarian to the core, he always brings a completely unique take to tackling some of the most thorniest of issues.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
Andy Spinoza’s magnificent read Manchester Unspun: Pop, Property and Power in the Original Modern City. I have had the pleasure of working with Andy over the years, and his insight into Manchester, and how culture meets regeneration is second to none.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
The world is becoming increasingly volatile, so I would say to be extremely adept to changing circumstances and dealing with political alongside market ambiguity. The other is embracing tech such as AI – it has the potential to radically improve our work and make PA more productive in the coming years.
Do you prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, and why/why not?
I like Twitter, not least because my daughter went viral on the platform (search “Georgina Addison, hearing aids” and you’ll see) I use Linkedin, as its great for networking. TikTok is hugely addictive so I took it off my phone!
How big is your PA department?
It’s new to Arup so there are three of us globally and we have recently onboarded an agency to support in the UK where we need ‘arms and legs’.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
Our clients, marketing and communications function. Our UK public affairs activity is overseen by our Cities Planning and Design Business, which interacts with government/s frequently.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
This is a tricky one and is often contentious. PA is a close relative of public relations, so working hand in hand with corporate communications is key. A direct line into the board is also hugely important as the ability of a PA function to be autonomous, supporting the decision making of the c-suite. Where PA teams struggle is when they are seen as a marketing or business development function. PA is about influencing policy not market positioning.
About Paul Addison
Paul is a Director at Arup, leading the policy strategy and delivery. He is an expert in reputation protection, issues management, high-level corporate-government relations and strategic communications, and has a broad experience in producing high impact campaigns and board level communications strategy. He is also a party member, and started his career working for Labour MP’s Anne Snelgrove, and Gerry Sutcliffe MP
Also passionate about education and social mobility, he is a Non-Executive Director of the Collaborative Learning Trust and the Community Interest Company ‘Vocl’, focused on developing future business leaders to become responsible contributors to society.