At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I’m normally woken around 6.30am by our dog Bert, keen for his morning walk!
What is the first thing you do?
I’ll often quickly check the news online.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I tend to read Politico London Playbook for UK politics news and their Brussels Playbook to keep abreast of what is happening Europe-wide. I will usually also check the BBC News pages as well. I tend to also listen to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I start work at 9am, although I also travel a lot for work, so the location differs!
How many times a day do you check emails?
Pretty much constantly over the day unless I am in meetings.
When is your first meeting?
I normally have a call with my team at 9.45am each day, to check in and discuss what each of us is doing that day as well as plan ahead and catch up with all the politics gossip!
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
They are spread across the week.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
It constantly varies, but I try to get out and meet external stakeholders as often as possible, be they politicians or representatives from many of the charities that our players fund.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I will occasionally check on news websites over the day, although if any major story develops, I will often receive a message from a colleague or friend. When in the office we also tend to have the BBC News Channel on in the background.
How do you take notes?
I take written notes on an A4 pad.
What is your relationship to Excel?
I can use it but certainly not an expert!
What is your favorite app & why?
I’m not sure if it’s my favourite, but I certainly use the Twitter app a lot!
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I’d say one at most, although most weeks none.
Which time do you go to bed?
Normally around 10pm, so I can get enough sleep (see my first answer!) Although if I am caught up in a good book this plan can go to pot!
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
I have lots of friends and colleagues working in either public affairs or in politics, and I am also involved in the Association of Scottish Public Affairs. In my group wide role, I also engage with public affairs colleagues working in the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, which is great to get an international perspective.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
I try to ensure I leave the office or close the laptop by 5.30pm each day. There are occasional exceptions and sometimes I will be at evening events, but it is a good discipline to ensure work life balance, and something I am much better at now than I used to be!
What do you do to unwind?
I like walking on the beaches near where we live in the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland, and also hillwalking in the Scottish highlands. When I get a chance, I also love to do a bit of seakayaking.
What is the biggest challenge you are working to solve right now?
We are working to secure a change in the law on charity lotteries in the UK to enable People’s Postcode Lottery to reduce some of the bureaucracy we have to contend with to distribute funds to the charities our player’s support.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
Yes, I do. I do quite a lot of train travel, both to commute to the office, and also to travel between Scotland and London, so I will regularly use that time to respond to emails.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
I always value the views and advice of Will Walden, Executive Director at Edelman.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
I sometimes do for the first few days, but then I try to switch off unless it’s an emergency!
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I have just finished Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris, which I would highly recommend for anyone interested in historical fiction. It’s about the hunt for the those who signed the death warrant of Charles I.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 years?
I think many of the key public affairs skills will remain relevant, however with politics fragmenting in many countries, being able to navigate that increasingly complicated environment will be key.
Do you prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, and why/why not?
I use Linkedin for professional contacts, Facebook for friends and family and Twitter as a source of news. I must admit to never having tried out TikTok.
How big is your PA department?
Across the Postcode Lottery Group we have 11 PA professionals working for us, all with great experience of their local political contexts as well as passion for the work of the Postcode Lotteries mission to maximise funds for good causes and great knowledge of the legal and regulatory contexts relating to charity lotteries in the countries we work in.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
For my Group wide role I report direct to our Group Chief Executive, and for my UK work to our Managing Director.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
Given the importance of the Public Affairs function and the pivotal role it plays in stakeholder engagement it is important that it works closely with senior management.
About Malcolm Fleming
Group Public Affairs Manager and UK Head of Public Affairs, Postcode Lottery Group
President, Association of Charity Lotteries in Europe.
Former Special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland.