At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I used to be a morning person! But then I discovered the snooze button. Now, I’m more of a “give me 10 more minutes” person.
During my university years, I woke up at 5 to improve my German and stay ahead of the curve. But now, I’m lucky if I can remember how to say “Guten Morgen” before the first cup of coffee. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the popular rule of thumb of 8 hours of sleep
What is the first thing you do?
“But first, coffee!” A double espresso! The sound of the coffee machine in the morning is the best symphony to my ears!
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
In the morning? No news at all:
I have turned off news notifications to keep my mind clear and focused. The overwhelming amount of information out there can be distracting, making it difficult for the brain to start the day with a clear head and fully focus on the tasks ahead. Even if I read a news outlet, I prefer to read some inspirational content. Yesterday, for instance, I immersed myself in an FT Weekend interview featuring Christine Lagarde. She is a real inspiration for me, not only due to her impressive professional accomplishments but also because of her unyielding strength as a woman in the male-dominated realm of central bankers. Also, her unwavering advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality further amplifies this admiration for her.
In the interview, she delved into topics such as inflation, Ukraine, and the mid-term of her mandate. Intriguingly, she also shared her fondness for grapefruit and revealed she regularly makes homemade marmalade from grapefruits harvested in her own garden in Corsica. She transports these homemade delights to Frankfurt, generously sharing them with colleagues. I find this personal touch in a professional setting quite endearing. After all, whether one is at the top of the European Central Bank or running a quiet corner bakery, we are all bound by our shared humanity. That being said, I do make an effort to stay informed about current events throughout the day and checking news sources periodically.
At which time do you go into the office?
If I work from home, I start around 8-8:30-9. If I go to the office, the day starts early to catch the airport train (our office is somewhat outside the city, close to the Zaventem airport).
How many times a day do you check emails?
I’d say 5-6 times a day. I check my emails in between meetings. Emails can be quite distracting. I make a conscious effort to avoid distractions during important tasks and meetings. I also try to be mindful of others during meetings and avoid reading emails when someone is speaking. I find it important to devote undivided attention to the speaker, as a sign of respect for their time and the effort they've put forth. Yet, in a dynamic and fast-paced company like ours, there’s always a little more room for improvement on that front.
When is your first meeting?
My first meeting typically starts at 9, although the rhythm of the day can occasionally dictate an earlier start, especially when it involves coordination meetings with colleagues across different continents.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
My workweek typically begins on Sunday evening, the moment when I plan my week ahead. I use a paper calendar to organize both my professional and private events for the upcoming week. This physical calendar is placed next to my screen throughout the week serving as a constant aide-mémoire of my planned sequence of events.
I strive to keep Mondays free of meetings. The first day of the week is when my mind is the most fresh and therefore the day is dedicated to important strategic tasks that require undivided attention. While it’s a guideline rather than a strict rule, navigating a large global company involves juggling a large number of external and internal meetings, diverse working hours, and varied work cultures. Therefore, if one doesn’t consciously carve out time, meetings can easily eat up your entire schedule.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
50-50, more or less.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
There is rarely any news so important that it can’t wait. Usually, I do it at the lunch break or at the end of the day.
How do you organize your calendar?
I have a structured approach to organizing my calendar. On Sundays, I set the goals for the week ahead, on Mondays, I focus on strategic tasks. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are typically filled with external and internal meetings and different tasks. On Fridays, I deliberately carve out time to debrief, providing an overview of the state of play and progress on various projects. At the end of the week, I review the progress and make any necessary adjustments to schedule the following week.
How do you take notes?
You may label me old-fashioned, but I have a strong preference for handwriting. Research shows that writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor system of the brain, which enhances our learning capacity and memory retention. My evidence for that: most of the time I leave my handwritten grocery shopping list on the kitchen table, yet, when I am in the store, I can recall what was on it with almost 100% accuracy.
What is your relationship to Excel?
Honestly, I have a strong dislike for it and I hope new technology will replace it soon. However, I have great respect for individuals who ”excel” in this field. I recall attending a meeting with my former manager, Wolf Kunisch, who within seconds was able to perform complex budget calculations with such ease. If I were to attempt to replicate his work, it would take me several hours.
What is your favorite app & why?
I like apps that offer a range of podcasts. They are great for gaining knowledge on political issues and topics of your expertise, for example, “The Economist Podcast” by The Economist, or “The Daily” by The New York Times, and of course, warmly recommending to industry experts the very own “Navigating Digital Payments” by Worldline 😉
There are also some great apps of female founders worth highlighting that help society closing the gender gap:
HeForShe: This app is designed to encourage men to take action and support gender equality, as well as resources for educating themselves and others on the issue.
Ellevest: This is a robo-advisor platform that is designed specifically for women. It takes into account the gender pay gap and the fact that women live longer than men when creating investment portfolios.
Btw, did you know, that Eventbrite, the ticketing platform that serves one million event-creators around the world, was created by women too?
How many external lunches do you have a week?
Not a lot of business lunches these days, actually, primarily due to the sheer volume of ongoing projects and because lunch meetings, in my view, aren’t the most efficient way to accomplish tasks. In high-stakes meetings, I aim to eliminate any potential distractions. Engaging in a meal during a conversation can inadvertently divert attention away from the discussion at hand. Breakfast or coffee meetings are my preferred setting for exchanging ideas on specific topics or significant subjects. These meetings are less about the culinary experience and more about the intellectual discourse.
Alright, I have a soft spot for the culinary arts too and I do find myself at a good number of dinner parties, I must confess. But there, my negotiation skills are rather focused on how to get a tiny piece of the dessert without having to eat the whole, rather than business deals.
Which time do you go to bed?
11. During my teenage years, my mother would often say that the hours between 11 pm and 1 am are especially crucial for the brain to rejuvenate. While this wisdom may not be underpinned by scientific evidence, my mother’s advice resonated with me and guided me in establishing a consistent sleep routine that I strive to stick to as much as possible.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
I consider myself fortunate to be part of networks of accomplished public affairs professionals, connections that I’ve nurtured during my university years while having leadership roles in multiple non-profit organizations, and through my previous role at the Commission. Living in Brussels, Politico becomes an indispensable part of one’s reading list.
The appraisable work of Jakob Hanke Vela, the Brussels Playbook Writer, and Sarah Wheaton, the Chief Policy Correspondent, makes it a must-read!
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
“Make time to live!” This advice, while simple to say, can be challenging to implement, especially for individuals like myself who are extremely dedicated to their work. Even my leisure time is often spent volunteering for non-profit organizations, championing causes close to my heart, such as closing the gender gap.
While there’s always room for improvement, especially, these busy autumn days, I’m aware that taking a step back to slow down and enjoy the small joys in life can yield immense benefits.
For instance, I do sport and make it a point to close my laptop at 5 p.m. on Fridays and go to play basketball. I used to play basketball during my high school years on a professional level. With my team, we won many championships and reached the national-level podium several times. As a forward player, I was in a coordinating role, learning firsthand that teamwork, good coordination and strategic planning are essential for overall success: the ability to envision the broader picture, anticipate the next move and orchestrate flawless choreography. In a way, this is just the same in our business too. Our coach, Géza Silló, would often say “Don’t give up when you’re tired; surrender when you’ve won”, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and determination in achieving success.
While these performance sports days are behind me, the quest for high performance persists. Basketball, however, is now just a cherished hobby that I continue to enjoy. I thoroughly enjoy playing with the Ixelles women’s team, which I discovered last year and which has a lot of talented players from around the globe, including some seasoned veterans of national teams.
What is the biggest challenge you are working to solve right now?
At present, my work is primarily focused on fostering a policy environment that not only facilitates the digitalization of payments but benefits European society as a whole. It involves ensuring a balanced regulatory landscape that embraces the diverse nature of the payments sector. A significant part of this challenge is to pave the way for payment institutions and e-money institutions to gain access to the necessary payment infrastructures.
What is the biggest challenge in Public Affairs right now?
For Public Affairs in the field of digital technology, the rapid pace of technological innovation has created a significant challenge for regulators and PA professionals. As digital technologies continue to evolve at an unprecedented rate, it has become increasingly difficult for regulatory frameworks to keep up. To illustrate, on the EU level, the process of adopting EU legislation is complex and can vary depending on the type and subject of the proposal. Most EU laws are adopted using the ordinary legislative procedure, which involves the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The procedure involves a series of readings of a proposed law, during which Parliament and Council review, negotiate, and amend the text. If the two institutions agree on the amendments, the proposed law is adopted. If they cannot agree on amendments, a second reading or third reading takes place. This process can take years and the implementation phase is yet to come. To take the example of the AI ACT: The proposal was first presented in April 2021 and the final AI Act should be adopted by the end of 2024 (if the upcoming EU elections do not interfere with this timeline).
As a result, there is often a gap when it comes to the development of new technologies and the establishment of regulatory frameworks to govern them. This gap can create uncertainty for businesses and consumers, as they struggle to navigate a rapidly changing technological landscape without clear guidance from regulators. To address this challenge, some experts have called for more agile and flexible regulatory frameworks that can adapt quickly to new technologies. Others suggest that regulators should focus on establishing broad principles that can be applied across different technologies, rather than trying to regulate each technology individually. Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between promoting innovation and protecting public interests.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
While his title may not explicitly state ‘PA’, our global CEO, Gilles Grapinet, is undoubtedly a Public Affairs pro. I hold a lot of respect for his strategic acumen, expansive knowledge, keen foresight into future trends, and remarkable memory. He is a true leader, who knows the way, shows the way forward, and inspires others to join on the journey.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
I do my best to resist, but… the temptation is high, especially with the avalanche of legislative and non-legislative projects we’re currently dealing with.
As Marta Barón from the Spanish Presidency team rightly put it during a digital euro event end of July: “We all deserve a grand fiesta, a magnificent after-party soon!”
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
The Currency Cold War by David Birk.
The 4-Day Week – by entrepreneur Andrew Barnes who makes the case for the four-day week as the answer to many of the issues of the 21st-century global economy. The world of work has seen a dramatic shift in recent times and workplaces need to adapt. There is plenty of evidence that a shorter workweek can lead to increased productivity. A study conducted by Microsoft Japan shows for instantance that employees who worked a four-day workweek were 40% more productive than those who worked a five-day workweek.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
Lobbying, a well-established industry, has been a cornerstone of our democratic process for over a century. However, the practice of lobbying itself has been around for centuries. It goes back to ancient Rome, where affluent citizens would engage advocates to represent their interests in the Senate.
As our society has evolved, the fundamental nature of this profession has remained remarkably consistent. As such, it is reasonable to believe that the PA skillset will remain fairly the same for the next 5-10 years.
In my perspective, a lobbyist embodies a variety of roles: one must be:
- a tactful diplomat,
- a skilled negotiator,
- an eloquent orator,
- a successful networker, and
- an efficient problem solver.
In the realm of digital technology, where technology often outpaces legislation, a lobbyist must also act like a “part-time prophet”, possessing the foresight to identify future trends and anticipate potential challenges.
As such, it is required to have the following skills:
- ability to understand complex policy issues, articulate positions clearly and persuasively, create a network of allies, find common ground, and be willing to compromise when necessary
- ability to navigate the political landscape and anticipate potential challenges
- ability to understand corporate strategy and how to turn risks into opportunities
- having a proper understanding of public policy, its structures, and processes
- ability to be tactful in interactions with policymakers, even when advocating for contentious issues, and build win-win relationships based on trust and mutual respect
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
On global/ group level 2,5 FTEs, coordinating also national PA communities in Europe and globally. We also work with consultancies for the management of our associations, such as EDPIA, and coordinate horizontally with experts in the company on different issues.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
Public Affairs maintains a direct communication line to the C-level. Public and Regulatory Affairs, along with Mergers & Acquisitions and Strategy, form a collective support function and are led by a member of the Executive Committee.
Since its establishment, Public & Regulatory Affairs has been closely working with the global CEO, Gilles Grapinet, providing regular reports and engaging in an active dialogue. Mr Grapinet is deeply invested in and actively involved with matters pertaining to public and regulatory affairs.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
The current organization, coupled with Group Strategy & M&A, is an ideal one. The team has strong exposure to the top management and various teams and central functions (CSR, COM, Finance, Compliance, etc) as well as working together on significant strategic projects related to the various challenges upcoming in the payment industry. There is mutual support between Group Strategy & PRA teams on key transversal strategic projects. PRA starts the race and runs the required distance before passing the baton to Strategy, who then completes it and translates it from policy into business strategy.
About Emőke Péter:
- Emőke Péter is the Head of European Public & Regulatory Affairs at Worldline, a global leading Paytech and the European leader in digital payments and financial services operating in more than 50 countries.
- She is also a member of the European Commission’s Payment Systems Market Expert Group (PSMEG), representing EDPIA (The European Digital Payments Industry Alliance) and advising the European Commission in the area of payments and supporting the preparation of legislative and policy initiatives.
- Prior to that, she served in both the Juncker and Von der Leyen Commissions. Her responsibilities included public policy development, primarily in the area of justice and fundamental rights.
- She holds a double bachelor degree in International Relations & EU Public Affairs and a Master of European Governance
- Contact & further information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emokepetereu/