At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I have two boys aged 6 and 9 so when I am the one bringing them to school I wake up at 6.30 to make sure everyone is fed, looks decent and is on time.
What is the first thing you do?
Well since last week I only realized when arriving to the office that I had totally skipped a parents-school coffee morning, the first thing I do now is trying to be a bit more awaken when I look at my Outlook calendar and make sure to double check both work and family calendar…
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I like the Spanish radio for general news while I get ready in the morning. Then in the office mostly Politico and textiles related publications such as Vogue Business or Ecotextile news.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
It varies a lot: I start between 7 and 9 depending on if I work from home, at the office, if I have to drop the kids or go to a yoga or boxing class in the morning.
How many times a day do you check emails?
I have taken away all email notifications because they distract me. I try to stick to checking them only 3 times a day (morning, lunch, before leaving the office) but of course when we have big events upcoming such as our Global Fashion Summit email becomes almost half or three quarters of what I do to make sure participants/speakers in our policy segments have the information they need asap.
When is your first meeting?
Usually at 9. We also stick to maximum 45 minutes meetings at GFA which I personally love as on the days where there are many back to back meetings we at least have those 15 minutes in between to gather our thoughts and breathe (specially needed if it is online meetings I take from the office booths!).
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I like leaving one day a week without meetings but it is not always possible. We have a great range of different stakeholders we work with so when it comes to gathering several of them we need to be flexible to accommodate everyone. Different time zones also sometimes mean late afternoon/evening meetings.
How do you organize your calendar?
I typically organize it on Fridays for the week ahead: look at the meetings I have as well as at my to do list and make sure to block 2-3 hours slots to focus on important/longer deliveries. I also often choose to work from home when there are tasks which require a quieter environment such as preparing for conferences. I like to also add to my work calendar the workout classes I want to attend to make sure I prioritise that as well no matter the workload. Specially during stressful work periods I can really feel how my efficiency increases by not neglecting my body and mind.
How do you take notes?
I moved recently to the “notes” app and approved so far!
What is your relationship to Excel?
I could definitely improve my knowledge of it to use it beyond the basics.
What is your favorite app & why?
Outlook calendar is for sure the one I couldn´t do without. It takes away the mental charge of having to remember where to be and what to do when. I get really nervous when it doesn´t work or it is down for some reason…
How many external lunches do you have a week?
Not as many here as I used to have when I was working in Brussels. But I do prioritise them when the opportunity is there. I actually was invited last week to a lunch at an Embassy here in Copenhagen with other creative sector representatives and thought afterwards there are so many opportunities to explore outside of the sector/circle I usually interact with.
Which time do you go to bed?
My eyes naturally close early after the 6.30am wakeups so it is a miracle if I make until the end of the Spanish evening news at 10pm.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
I lived in Brussels for 8 years prior to moving to Copenhagen and have a broad network of public affairs friends thanks also to my masters in EU Public Affairs at Sciences Po in Paris so personal connections are a great way of keeping up to date on the “gossip” part of things (institutional changes, election predictions etc.). I also get plenty of information when I travel to Brussels for work. Lastly I follow many public affairs related accounts on LinkedIn and get insights from work stakeholder networks, associations and federations that Global Fashion Agenda is a part of.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
A real-life changer for me in that regards was moving to Copenhagen where I get to both have a fascinating career and see my kids grow. Both the Danish culture and Global Fashion Agenda´s are great for that. My best tip for managing work/life balance is having kids! Knowing that I have to leave the office for pick up makes me work so much more efficiently… There are of course peak times throughout the year during which work requires my attention on weekends and evenings but I do it with pleasure given the flexibility I have throughout the year. Global Fashion Agenda is amazing in that regards and I feel lucky to work for such an organization.
What is the biggest challenge you are working to solve right now?
At the moment one of the challenges for me is creating a robust governance for a new forum on Global Textiles Policy that Global Fashion Agenda launched during our June Copenhagen edition of our Global Fashion Summit. It is a forum for industry and government representatives to meet and address the global interactions of changing textiles policy and promote exchange on national policy. There are many stakeholders and many issues which require global coordination so the challenge is to go for the topics and ideal results that would bring the biggest impact.
What is the biggest challenge in Public Affairs right now?
2023-2025 will be key years for public affairs in all sectors with an expected impact of the forthcoming US (November 2023) and EU (June 2024) elections.
When it comes to public affairs related to textiles the biggest challenge is also that the sector went from being almost completely unregulated to more than 16 legislative files impacting it only at the EU level. On top of the massive rise in regulation there is a very fragmented lobbying landscape with too many options in terms of organizations + not enough in-house fashion brand expertise to follow all the policy files and participate as desired in the stakeholder engagement phases of policymaking.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
My Public Affairs rockstar is Pernilla Halldin, Group Head of Public Affairs at H&M Group. Other than having put together from scratch an amazing public affairs team, I admire her way of making policy sound concrete and uncomplicated. She also has an outstanding understanding of the fashion sector´s intricacies.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
Not during periods in which most of our network is also off (typically Christmas or Easter). When my team colleagues are working and I am off I also avoid answering email and rather add colleagues to my out of office to make sure I come back fully rested. When I am off during periods in which there are important things ongoing I do keep an eye, specially if other team members are also off.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I am very much into personal development these days. The latest one is “The Power of habit”.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
For the sector in which I am currently (textiles) the key is to have more professionals with deep understanding of both the industry and public affairs. Policy only started increasingly targeting the sector last year so there is a lack of such profiles.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
We are currently three: myself, a public affairs manager and a public affairs assistant.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
Policy is one of our 4 pillars together with impact initiatives, communication and academy. It has greatly increased in importance since I joined four years ago as the sector is now increasingly impacted by legislation. Global Fashion Agenda is non-profit organisation that fosters industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion to accelerate impact and in that regards we believe policy is a key lever to drive impact at scale.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
I believe it should be at the core of the organization and work in close contact with all the other departments. The aim is after all not to do policy for the sake of doing it but to support and leverage the organization´s priorities through public affairs.
About Maria Luisa
María Luisa Martínez Díez is Public Affairs Director at Global Fashion Agenda. She holds a Master’s degree in EU politics and law from Sciences Po Paris and brings over 10 years of experience in Public Affairs first in Paris. Then in Brussels where she worked at namely the European Commission, the Regional Office of Madrid and the Brussels-based consultancy EURALIA where she was leading the agri-consumers department working in the fields of circular economy and sustainability in the supply chains including the fashion and food industries.