At which time do you wake up in the morning?
On weekdays, I normally get up at 6am. I live near the sea and a few times a week I go for a morning swim. I do this year-round. In Denmark it gets rather frosty in the winter, which keeps a fresh mind. My teenage daughter, and a local friend, both like to join. It’s a nice way to start the day.
What is the first thing you do?
Coffee. It’s essential. People who work with me will be aware that a good cup of coffee is a lifesaver for me. When I am traveling, I am willing to walk several blocks in the morning for a decent cup of coffee. This is why the mission of Starbucks’ resonates well with me: “to nurture the human spirit.”
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I normally start the day looking at LinkedIn. For me it’s a good news channel. I follow life science policies and the latest developments across Europe, and a lot of people in my network share relevant news and updates. Then I take a quick look at the Guardian to check for dramatic news that I need to be aware off. When I get into the office, I normally have my second cup of coffee while reading Politico and Altinget (Danish political news site).
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I normally start in the office between 8-9am. I have two teenage daughters and a son who is in kindergarten. Mornings can sometimes be challenging when looking for a lost swimsuit.
How many times a day do you check emails?
I would always start the day with checking e-mails. Depending on meetings, I would normally read e-mails throughout the day and a last glance before going to bed.
When is your first meeting?
Many days my first meeting is a 9am, however I prefer to only have meetings from around 10am, as that allows more time to plan the day.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I prefer to have some time between meetings to allow enough time to prepare and allow enough time to agree on next steps. When possible, I like to have mornings to do the thinking and strategic work. Then I can answer e-mails in the afternoons. Reality is sometimes more hectic, and I need to adjust to clients’ schedules.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
Overall, I think it’s around half-and-half. As we work in project teams in FTI Consulting, and sometimes teams across various geographies, then many internal meetings are about planning and proposing a strategy or way forward for the client. External meetings are mainly with clients and then as many coffee appointments as I can possibly fit in to my schedule, to ensure that I stay on top of recent developments impacting on life science companies in Europe.
How do you organize your calendar?
I travel to Brussels frequently. I would normally plan meetings with my team and the larger FTI team when in Brussels. Longer strategy sessions and client face-to-face meetings would take place in both Copenhagen and Brussels, and occasionally in London. As our office in Copenhagen is rather new (FTI Consulting only opened an office in Copenhagen less than two years ago), we are fewer people, and I can more easily free up time for deep thinking. Therefore, I try to work on longer documents, impact assessments and reports while in Copenhagen.
How do you take notes?
I always carry at least four notebooks with me. I have each notebook dedicated to one or two clients and a particular topic that I am “deep diving” into. I always take notes during meetings, in this way I can more easily remember the conversation and what was decided. I do make some notes in OneNote as well, this is more for one-to-one conversations with team members to keep track of agreed goals and personal development.
What is your relationship to Excel?
I use Excel for budgets and to track larger projects. I have not always been a fan of Excel, however the last 8 years it’s really grown on me.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
Lunch maybe 2-3 times a month for a longer conversation, or sometimes I would propose to have a client meeting combined with lunch for a longer and more informal talk, it’s a good way to get around topics and test a few ideas.
Which time do you go to bed?
I aim to be in bed around 11pm. I like to have at least 20 min for one of my favourite crime novels. I guess it is a rather Nordic thing. Due to dark winters and gloomy weather (that’s my theory at least), we are quite obsessed with serial killers and weird murder stories. We are lucky in Denmark that crime rates are pretty low, anyhow we have amazing crime authors.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
Mainly by talking to smart people. When I find interesting articles or publications, I try to stay up to date on latest trends.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
Always remember to have fun. Maybe easier to quote Dolly Parton “Don’t get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.”
What is the biggest challenge in Public Affairs right now?
Public affairs is an important business function. I believe we have an obligation to keep professionalising the profession, by having high ethical standards and always be pro-transparency, as that will profit our function moving forward. I also think it is important to use relevant matrixes to track progress and measure outcomes for public affairs activities, to make the return of investment clearer to the company. Finally, I think public affairs should be taught in business schools, as part of the curriculum for future CEO’s and business leaders.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
Well, there are a few. I have had the privilege of working across different geographies and companies. I started in my young days working in the Danish Youth Council with Martin Engell-Rossen, he later became an advisor to the Danish prime Minister. He is a brilliant strategist. During the Brexit years, I worked for GSK in London. I worked with a gifted public affairs colleague, Natalie De Lima, who was leading GSK (large UK headquartered pharmaceutical company) through some challenging years, always with a clear strategy, good political understanding, business acumen and ability to work across different geographies
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I wish I could write something a little more sophisticated, maybe related to management theories or economic trends. If the truth should be told, I am secretly in love with the main character Harry Hole in the crime novels written by Norwegian author Jo Neboe. He is a very good travel companion.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
I think sector knowledge will become in even higher demand. Opening doors comes handy, but deep sector knowledge is often needed if you work in heavy regulated industries. A deep understanding of the business, the regulatory and the policy landscape will ensure the public affairs team is an integrated part of the company. I also think that public affairs and communication will need to go hand-in-hand to ensure message alignment across all channels, and to use every opportunity to repeat a call to action. Clearly social media skills and AI will become more important parts of the skill set moving forward.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
As close as possible to the CEO or C-suite. For heavily regulated industries, such as life sciences, the PA function is vital, and it should be aligned with commercial strategies at the highest level of the organisation.