At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I am an early starter between 6 – 6:30 and I love my mornings when the house/apartment is quiet.
What is the first thing you do?
I prepare my morning coffee, turn on P1 (the Danish national talk radio) and whilst listening and drinking my coffee, I check the news on my mobile and any highlighted mails.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I would normally check the national news sites in Denmark (being a Dane), sometime the BBC (British husband) and then the professional stuff on Politico, Reuters etc. The push notifications from Twitter I also check if times allow.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I am a residence in Belgium with my husband living in our house in Copenhagen, so I work approx. 15 days in Brussels and the rest from the home-office in Copenhagen. In Brussels I normally walk to the office, and I like getting there early around 8 -8:30. At the home office, I would start before 8.
How many times a day do you check emails?
I tend to check the mails between meetings, but I am not sure I have a fixed routine. It also depends on how many Teams chat I receive. There seems to be a tendency that mails are sent when not urgent while you are expected to respond more swiftly to Teams chats and even faster to mobile text messages.
When is your first meeting?
I have recurring meetings during the week that start both at 09 and at 10. If I meet up for a coffee with a colleague, I will meet them at 09 to be able to start other meetings at 10.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
In a way, Brussels already has its own schedule and most external events and meetings take place Tuesday to Thursday. In my office, our team and planning meetings are therefor scheduled for Mondays and on Fridays would normally be a day for catching up on eventual back logs, draft papers and make the calls I didn’t manage to make during the week.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
I have been in this role for a year, and I have spent most of my time to get processes running, to study the files and to get acquainted with our members and their positions. I guess the split have been 3:1 but I expect this will change to the opposite 1:3 after the summer break as I am now on top of the files and as I also expect the files to “take off” with possible proposals coming from the European Commission.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I “surf” in between meetings and on my way to meetings on the mobile. For twitter I get notifications but not for other media. As I am always together with colleagues or members – any hot news will travel fast.
How do you organize your calendar?
A colleague in the office prepares a weekly radar that covers meetings/events/milestones for the week ahead and for larger events the coming months. This is a really good tool to oversee who is doing what, to prioritise and most of all to organise my calendar. Otherwise, I am simply using Outlook and the calendar is being filled up based on our agreed priorities.
How do you take notes?
I always have my checkered notebook with me which I use for both listing prioritized tasks and for taking notes during meetings and events. I take a lot of notes! I learned years ago that I remember stuff much better when it’s been through my hand. By the way I was asked by someone at a recent event whether I had a math background as I was using the checkered notebook – he was a sociologist and used a lined notebook.
What is your relationship to Excel?
I am a big fan and a super user of excel which I have used a lot as part of the toolbox in my former roles as project manager. I use it privately to keep track of my whereabouts for tax purposes. In my current role, we have a group wide system in place to track e.g., meetings with stakeholders etc. so I do not use Excel that frequently any more.
What is your favorite app & why?
These days my favorite apps are (unfortunately) Brussels Airlines and SAS because I travel a lot between Belgium and Denmark. Besides that, I use Whatsapp a lot to keep contact with my kids who lives abroad, and then I really appreciate the Danish Mobile Pay app which allow you to transfer small and large amounts between all accounts in Denmark, no matter which bank you belong to, if you have a Danish mobile number.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I hardly ever go to external lunches except for team lunches organized by the office. I normally go for a coffee to catch up with colleagues and members. At least for me there’s been a change in behavior compared to last time I worked in Brussels where all catchups and meetings took place over lunch. It could be the consequence of Covid or that we are more conscious about being efficient these days.
Which time do you go to bed?
Usually between 22-23.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
If we talk about public affairs as a discipline, I had a very good mentor and training in my earlier job in Telenor. I still think timeliness, persistency and credibility are important aspects of PA. Now I am trying to listen to members to learn how they organize themselves to optimize their PA efforts. In terms of intelligence, I am part of a large organisation that develops its own studies and reports but also commission external studies with e.g., academic institutions sometimes also in collaboration with members and other Brussels based associations.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
First, I think it’s important that your company is attentive to work/life balance and provide you with the necessary flexibility (to manage kids, elderly family, yourself, eventual education). If your company accept the premise that a good work/life balance produce better outcome and you have a good dialogue with your manager, you’ve come far. In Brussels its unavoidable that there are intense peak periods of work. What’s important is that these periods do not become the normal. There must be less intensive working periods and I think it’s important to keep track and your raise concern if it becomes too much.
What do you do to unwind?
Sport has always been my preferred way of unwinding. In Brussels I go jogging in the Woluwe park or I take the train to Tervueren Park for a long walk. Back in Denmark, I am a keen kayaker when the weather permits and I have also joined a kickboxing team in the local fitness center. As my children, who are now young adults have left home, I have many ideas to new sport activities I want to try out.
What is the biggest challenge you are working to solve right now?
I am deeply involved in the debate about the future of Europe’s digital connectivity. The EU has set very ambitious targets for connectivity and digital transformation by 2030 and our industry want to contribute to meeting these targets. BUT the current regulatory framework for telecommunications is not sufficiently supporting a secure, sustainable, and competitive network infrastructure for Europe. As an industry, we have therefore put forward some ideas and proposals to improve the framework that we would like to see reflected in a Commission proposal. I expect this file will be a long stretch and it may take us into the next Commission thus it will require a lot of persistency.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
Yes, if I see that a swift response is needed, and I am not next to my PC.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
I think we have many talented PA pro among our members. Some are really well connected with stakeholders, and some are very well prepared with evidence and very credible arguments. Others have very strong governance processes and work very systematic.
A PA pro I highly respect, I will point to a former manager I had in Brussels. She was Norwegian and representing a state-owned company. Despite not coming from an EU country, she managed to position the company extremely well in Brussels by communicating and bringing stories, messages, and evidence to the right stakeholders in Brussels at the right time. She had the full backing of the headquarter and the management who would deliver the same messages at the highest level.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
No, never. I would, however, not turn down ay call/text if my manager contacts me with an important issue.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
Unfortunately, I am a bit behind on books. I still need to finish the last 100 pages of Obama’s autobiography from 2018. In the meantime, however, I managed to read Troels Kloevedals “Hvad sirenerne sang” during my flights between Belgium and Denmark. It’s a wonderful book about his voyage with the northern privateer in the Polynesian waters.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
For me the ideal PA professional for the future has in-depth understanding of the strategy and business in which he/she works. The person will be able to match this understanding and insight with the political and regulatory environment and ideally be able to translate that into an appealing narrative and messages. Finally, the person should be and excellent communicator who can communicate effortless on complex matters and messages to a variety of stakeholders. If this person cannot be found, I think the trick is to establish a team that bring these different competences together.
Do you prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, and why/why not?
Sorry to say but I have never joined Facebook (now Meta) and I have no plans of getting on TikTok. I think Twitter is a very useful tool for PA work and I also see that LinkedIn is getting more and more traction as it combines video and text.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
We are currently 9 people in the Brussels Office working on a variety of files important to our members. We use external consultant ad hoc.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
As I work for an industry association, we have a slightly different set up. We have a chief regulatory officer who covers public policy and advocacy worldwide who is part of the association management so in a way the line to the CEO is short. The CRO has regional heads and the Brussels Office belong to the European/CIS head.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
I my previous positions I have seen the PA function being placed in various functions in the organisation. I think one of the best combinations is where the PA function is linked with regulation and communication as part of a corporate unit as these disciplines are intertwined – preferably also in a close relationship with the company strategy unit. At the end of the day it comes down to the senior management. If they understand the role of PA they will ensure that the function is used optimally to promote the company agenda and priorities.
I have broad experiences from the telecommunications sector working with regulators and policymakers at national, European, and international level. I was e.g., heading up Telenor’s Brussels Office for 6 years and spent 3 years at Telenor’s headquarter in Oslo. Before returning to Brussels to work for the GSMA as a director for public policy, I spent 3 years in a large Danish Bank.