At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I have a very fixed routine. My alarm rings at 6:20, and it has actually become so precise that I sometimes wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. Then I have 40 minutes to get myself ready and prepare lunch for my daughter before waking her up at 7:00.
What is the first thing you do?
Previously, I used to start my day by diving headfirst into social media, news updates, and emails – combination of very bad habits and addiction that fueled this routine. I’ve changed my morning routine over the past couple of years. The very first thing I do in the morning now is to make myself a lukewarm lemon water and dedicate 5 minutes to meditate. I know it might sound a bit cheesy, and like everyone else, I still have days where I feel very tempted to reach for my phone and indulge in my old habits, but I truly see the positive impact it has had on my overall well-being and work performance not to fall back.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I follow specific topics that interest me, which I, of course, use Ulobby to monitor. Besides that, I check the larger news sites here in Denmark and some specific international sites depending on what’s happening in the world. For example, I’ve been relying on international media to follow the election in Turkey, as I feel it hasn’t been covered enough in the Danish news.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
Unless I have meetings, I usually go to the office around 8:30 and start working at 9. Working remotely is very rare for me.
How many times a day do you check emails?
It depends on how many meetings I have, but I usually check my emails quite often, maybe once every hour if I’m not in a meeting. Some people only check and respond to emails once or twice a day, but that approach doesn’t work for me.
When is your first meeting?
Depending on the day, my first meeting is usually at 9:30 or 10:00.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I try to timebox Monday and Wednesday for external meetings in Denmark, and Tuesday and Thursday for virtual meetings. Fridays are normally kept free of meetings.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
A typical week usually consists of 2-3 times as many external meetings as internal ones.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I try to stay updated on the news between meetings and have notifications turned on for the most important issues.
How do you take notes?
I use my laptop because it’s more effective and allows me to type much faster. And to be honest, my handwriting has now reached a point where understanding my own notes is a challenge.
What is your relationship to Excel?
I’m not an Excel kind of person, but it is a necessary tool. Not for managing stakeholders in the traditional sense, but rather for budgets and tracking metrics.
What is your favourite app & why?
Favourite must be Slack. It’s a great tool for team communication. I use it all the time to stay in touch with my colleagues and follow up on tasks. Most used? Must be Google Maps. I’m extremely terrible at navigating.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I have a few external lunches each week, but more often a quick coffee instead of a long lunch.
Which time do you go to bed?
I usually go to bed between 10 PM and 11 PM. If I didn’t have children, it would probably be later.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
It’s really important for me to keep learning and being updated on my own industry, and this is also why I follow several PA experts on different channels and listen to various podcasts with public affairs experts about lobbying. One of them is of course our own podcast, The Persuaders Podcast, but I also tune in to other podcasts like Pluxcast by Patrick Keating and Connor Allen.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
My best tip for maintaining a healthy work/life balance is to prioritise tasks and take time to rest both mentally and physically. Turn off notifications when at home and don’t underestimate the power of nature – take some breaks from screens and get outside!
What do you do to unwind?
There is nothing quite like the simple pleasure of going for a walk – sometimes for hours – to unwind, recharge and clear my mind.
How does your desk look?
My desk is super tidy and neat at home, but at the office, it tends to be (much) more messy. It’s something I’ve been trying to improve for many years, but without exaggerating I would say there is still room for improvement on that part. I’m sure my colleagues would agree with me on that.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
I usually don’t. I read emails on my phone but respond when I’m back at my desk.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
I am particularly impressed when public affairs PA professionals successfully reshape the perception of PA within their organization and when this reshaping also is being reflected on the organizational chart. I understand that this is not an easy task. However, when PA professionals are recognized on the organizational chart with direct reporting lines to the CEO or, at the very least, one level below, it demonstrates that the C-level executives understand the value of PA and its impact on the company’s overall strategy and bottom line. In response to your question, while there are many names worth mentioning, I would like to highlight George Morrison, Director of Global Public Affairs at Arla Foods, and Benedicte Staalesen, Head of Political and Public Affairs at Eviny.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
I try not to, and I would say that I’m definitely better at avoiding it now compared to five years ago. But there are situations where it’s necessary, and in those cases, I reply.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I’m not particularly good at reading books, but I enjoy listening to audiobooks. I recently finished “Insider,” a book by Simon Emil Ammitzbøll, a former minister of economy and interior in the Danish parliament. The book provides insights into his experiences in the Danish parliament and was quite interesting.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 years?
I think that the pandemic has brought some interesting changes in the PA industry. It has served as an eye-opener for many CEOs, as they have witnessed the consequences of political decisions and their impact on business. I have observed companies that previously neglected public affairs now actively hiring professionals, and in some cases, PA professionals have been integrated into the management structure, which is a positive development.
But I think that PA professionals would be making a grave mistake if they take this position for granted. If they want to maintain their relevance and position, they need to develop new skills that go beyond having an extensive network and knowledge of the political landscape and strive to speak the language of C-level executives, embrace technology and its role in shaping public affairs, and demonstrate a solid understanding of how to generate business.
Do you prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, and why/why not?
I’m not a fan of TikTok for private matters. But I do acknowledge that it could be interesting in terms of PA in the future, especially for politicians during campaigns. I don’t really use Twitter myself, but I use it to navigate and follow the news and relevant stakeholders. LinkedIn is a channel that I use every day, actually multiple times a day, and I consider it to be super necessary for me.
How big is your PA department?
Ulobby is a software company providing SaaS for PA professionals, so we don’t compare in terms of having a dedicated PA department. But I regularly speak with PA professionals across the Nordics and Europe, and typically, departments range from 3-5 people, although it can vary. I have also spoken to PA professionals running PA departments with 100+ employees.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organisation & why?
If you’ve read this post and have reached this question, I think you know where I believe the PA department should be positioned within the organisation. The only way to achieve that position is if C-level understands the importance and value of PA and its potential contribution to the C-levels primary concern, which is ultimately the bottom line.
About Sosun Sendi Breitenbach
Sosun is a Public Affairs Director at Ulobby, a technology company developing software for Public Affairs & Stakeholder Management.