At which time do you wake up in the morning?
My alarm goes at 7am on weekdays. It’s always a more pleasant wake up time in the summer than the winter.
What is the first thing you do?
Hit snooze! Once that times out, I check my phone, which is also my alarm. I love the idea of getting a traditional alarm clock and leaving my phone in another room so I don’t automatically reach for it, but that’s yet to become a reality.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
Politico’s newsletters, some UK news sites, political correspondents on Twitter, parliamentary monitoring updates and ConservativeHome’s morning mailer.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
9am. If I am in the office, my travel time is about an hour door-to-door. If I am working from home, I’ll make sure to do a work out during the time I save without the commute.
How many times a day do you check emails?
Constantly as they’re usually always open on one of my screens. That said, meetings are a good chance to disconnect from my inbox and I will disconnect from them when I’m deep diving on projects.
As a company, we use slack for about 95% of our internal conversations, my email is therefore predominantly external contact. It’s quite nice having that split and it keeps my inbox more focused.
When is your first meeting?
Usually my meetings start at anytime from 9am but, given one of the jurisdictions I cover is the EU, occasionally things kick off at 8am for external meetings and events.
Trustpilot is a Danish company and our HQ is in Copenhagen, we also have teams in the US and Australia, but colleagues are very respectful of the differing time zones, so pre-9am internal meetings are very rare.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I try to gather my ‘in person’ meetings on the days I’m in the office. This means I can make the most of being in town and see people face to face, rather than on a screen, which I always prefer
I also block time in my calendar to focus on tasks. I find this beneficial, as a part to effectively manage my time.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
It goes in ebbs and flows depending on what’s happening in the external world and whether I’m traveling. If I’m visiting Brussels for example, those weeks will be dominated by external meetings so I can maximise being there in person.
On an average week, I would have more internal meetings than external meetings.
How do you follow news development between meetings
I feel very lucky to be working in the world of current affairs. I find politics and the news fascinating, so if I wasn’t working in this field, I’d be checking in on news developments regularly anyway. Fortunately, I get to combine this as a part of my job.
I keep up to date in multiple ways. Firstly, via monitoring updates and breaking news emails. Alongside that, news sites and political Twitter are a ‘go to’ as well, although I’ve actually never had a Twitter account myself.
How do you take notes?
For offline meetings and events, my notes are handwritten in my notebook. At my desk, I keep my notes on google docs and file them. For my ‘to do’ list, I have a hand-written, numbered list on luminous colored, A6 post- it notes which I can’t do without. For me, no virtual alternative comes close to having a handwritten list.
What is your relationship to Excel?
Excel used to give me flashbacks to not-so-great ICT classes at school, but I’m actually quite a big fan of it now. I like its clarity, be it for stakeholder lists, tracking objectives or metrics and budgeting. That said, I don’t enjoy having to do battle with some of its more technical features.
What is your favorite app & why?
Google’s jamboard or Miro boards. For any collaborative planning work, brainstorming sessions etc I love to get post-it notes on a white board and see it all laid out as we bounce ideas around. As such, anything that enables you to do that in virtual meetings is a winner in my books.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
One or two a month max. I usually plump for a coffee for meetings as trying to match up lunch times with people can be tricky, particularly with hybrid working. I usually attend lunches as part of events rather than for catch ups and meetings.
Which time do you go to bed?
On work nights it’s usually between 10pm and 11pm. I really value my sleep and like a good night’s sleep, plus I feel my most productive in the mornings.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
A range of places. I learn a lot from other PA pros – I love seeing what work people are producing, be it campaigns, reports, events etc. it can be really inspiring. Attending events, newsletters, blogs like this one, catching up with others in the sector and also LinkedIn are ways to source that insight. I also peruse PA-related podcasts and am linked in to some PA communities too.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
Prioritize. You can’t, and shouldn’t, do everything (both in work and life). I’m not saying I’ve got it sussed, but to help with this I keep in mind a phrase someone shared with me – ‘When you say ‘yes’ to something, you say ‘no’ to something else’. I think it’s important to value your time.
What do you do to unwind?
I go for a walk at the end of the day. Stretching my legs, getting fresh air and being outdoors always helps me to unwind. Reading is also part of my routine. Alongside that, I enjoy cooking and baking – it’s nice to use a totally different part of my brain and to do something creative. Catching up with family and friends is also important to me and never fails to be good for my soul.
How does your desk look?
In the office, it’s immaculate as we hot desk. At home I’d say my desk has a more ‘lived in’ feel, but it’s quite small so there’s not much room for clutter.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
Yes, I do. It’s handy to reply to emails when on the move. That goes for slack for messages with colleagues too. Given I mainly use my emails for external engagement, if a longer response is needed I prefer to do this via my laptop.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
I have been really fortunate to have worked with some fantastic PA pros both within the companies I’ve worked for, but also from other organisations too. I’ve learned a huge amount from them all.
A person I particularly respect is Stuart Thomson. Stuart has very kindly supported me in my public affairs development and has been a generous sounding board and source of advice for me for several years now. He has amazing experience and insight, coupled with a great skill for communicating that, as showcased by his podcast and PA blogs. I really admire how he’s shared his expertise with others to help them in their work.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
I don’t and it’s something I feel strongly about. I trust my colleagues to make the right calls whilst I’m away. If something very urgent comes in and they need me, they know they can reach me via whatsapp.
I think stepping away from my inbox is important – we all need to switch off, take a break and come back refreshed. But also, if I start replying to emails on holiday, it contributes to a culture of making that the norm and the expectation, and that’s not something I want to play a part in setting.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Giles Brandredth’s biography of Prince Philip as well as Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beaumont.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
Given how fast the world changes, I think this is a bit like trying to read tea leaves. That said, given the current AI explosion which is currently underway, I think we’ll need to be adept in knowing how to harness and deploy tech tools and AI to support our roles. In the last 5 or so years we’ve had a lot of political volatility to adapt to. I wonder if we’re going to need to use that adaptability in the coming years as the tech world further revolutionises our work and society?
Do you prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, and why/why not?
I’m a fan of LinkedIn – I really enjoy the thoughtful and insightful content people share and find myself reading and listening to more and more content shared there.
I’ve never had Twitter or TikTok, and I don’t intend for that to change. I rarely used Facebook but I have a weak spot for Instagram, that’s very much a work free zone for me.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
I joined Trustpilot in summer 2022 to start to build out its Public Affairs work. We’re currently a team of two but work closely with, and draw on the resource of, colleagues in other teams too.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
In Trustpilot, our PA team sits within our ‘Trust and Transparency’ department and more specifically, within the Platform Integrity team which includes our fraud and investigations colleagues, as well as our proactive litigation team. So there is a very strong legal background within the wider team.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
The ultimate PA question! I don’t think there is a right answer. I’ve worked in various structures – PA sitting with comms, with policy, with corporate affairs and with legal. I think all can, and do, work. Ultimately though, you need strong relationships with all of those teams and also with teams beyond that. I think the ethos you set in your immediate and wider team is what counts and I don’t see where your team sits as diminishing your relationships with any other team. Internal Public Affairs and relationship building is just as important as the external work we do.
About Jane Wallace
Jane is Head of Public Affairs at Trustpilot, a role which covers the EU, UK and US . She grew up in the North-East of England and has a Masters in History & International Relations from the University of St Andrews. She began her career in the European Parliament in Brussels, working for the Chair of a political group and then the Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. She then moved to London to work for the consumer group Which? in a number of campaigning and public affairs roles, most recently as Head of Public Affairs.