At which time do you wake up in the morning?
My alarm is set for 6:30am, and most mornings it is easy to pop up. As a mother of three, I have people counting on me to set the pace of the day.
What is the first thing you do?
When I wake up, I make sure school lunches and snacks are prepared for my children. It is a great way to balance one’s thought process as I prepare for a full day of work. My main motivation is to take care of my family, so this is a great reminder.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I mix up my sources. Generally, I start with US news from overnight news broadcasts. When I have a few moments, I will read some curated news articles from Google news alerts or other platforms in subject-specific ways such as tech, finance, global affairs.
Having lived nearly equal parts of my life between Europe and the USA — I was raised in the United States by European parents – I learned that one can glean extra information from a host of subjects via differences in emphasis and perspective of reports. Noticeable gaps will cause me to dig for extra information, which has proven valuable.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
Most days, my first email and schedule check is by 7am, then at my laptop by 8:30am.
My time working from home or my office is split 50/50 these days. Some days are hybrid depending on my children’s school pickup schedule.
How many times a day do you check emails?
When is your first meeting?
It depends on the day, the person, and time zone. 9am is pretty common, but I try to make it a bit later on mornings after meetings go beyond standard work hours. For example, I chair an international standards working group that is based on California time, so we can go long at times.
When I travel to the US in summer, first meetings can switch to 3am. The look on peoples’ faces when they learn why I have a dark window behind me is priceless.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
Minus a few set times during the week for specific meetings, I make my time around the needs of cooperating departments, our company’s various offices, and the prevailing needs of the week — and there are always needs.
It can be chaotic, but I believe it eliminates any sense that we sit in an Ivory Tower.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
My internal and external meetings are split 50/50.
As PA and Regulatory for my company, we are heavily involved in working with our sales and product teams on top of external functions. This involvement allows us the ability to be highly responsive to governmental inquiries or mandates as well as relaying information to colleagues for planning.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
We are a collaborative company, so I am usually happy to get updates from colleagues during business hours.
Quick Linkedin checks also help as industry colleagues like to post relevant information quite often.
How do you organize your calendar?
If it is in my Outlook and on my phone, I am solid.
How do you take notes?
Spiral notepads and Asana.
What is your relationship to Excel?
It was love-hate, but now one of mutual respect.
I have always used it for lists and contacts, but collaborative budget-tracking between departments where sudden inclusion of unknown formulas has been known to give me some headaches.
What is your favorite app & why?
Slack, the internal communication platform, is my main way of communicating. I am attached to it because so much of my day requires internal coordination. However, I am not sure many people will say it is their “favorite” app. An honorable mention goes to Teams.
If possible to be efficient with time, I like using the voice chat feature. It goes a long way to maintain the human component in our work.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I rarely have external lunches because most of my frequent government / industry contacts are spread out amongst many European capitals, the UK, and the Middle East. Munich is not Brussels, Berlin, or Paris, so that also plays a part.
However, I am particularly proud of the rapport I have developed with a wide range of people. That is gained from virtual coffees, phone calls, and “touch base” emails. People are people, and I genuinely enjoy the human side of this business. I attend and participate in several conferences where I catch up with existing and new contacts. When many people travel to Munich for various reasons, we make time to meet in person — also, I have received unexpected invitations for events from seemingly closed groups that make me proud to know I connect in a significant manner.
Which time do you go to bed?
Generally, I like to get a decent amount of sleep, so typically shortly past 10:30pm. However, that can be earlier or later depending on the type of day I’ve had, which book I am reading, or Netflix series I am watching.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
I do it in various ways – and I try to keep my sources varied. Basically, I read, view YouTube lectures, and have exposure to people via my work.
For example, I worked hard to create a deep network of PA contacts in Europe and US people whom I can count on for ideas or suggestions on reading material. This helps with looking at matters from different angles to help make my own decisions.
Secondly, when I read interesting articles, view an industry lecture on YouTube, or anything that impresses me, I will reach out to the person who shared the idea and setup a hello call. This has been quite successful and I have met some pleasant people.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
A good mindset and an awareness that we humans are not machines – but it was learned the hard way.
With a family, it is easy to find things I can look forward to, so I recommend making a plan for something, even small. The anticipation carries one through the rough patches of a work week.
What is the biggest challenge you are working to solve right now?
Very simple: harmonization of national laws in EU regarding specific tech policy / standards.
I cannot be too specific for obvious reasons, but I find the distinct opinions of member states to be a real eye-opener. That said, there are some remarkable policy figures out there, so I am pleased to know there are people who pay such close attention to emerging trends in the juncture of tech and policy that will touch everyone in the Euro Zone.
What is the biggest challenge in Public Affairs right now?
From my experience and perspective, the PA professional must understand that a regular demonstration of contribution to their company’s bottom line is quickly becoming essential.
In traditional, large companies, this may not be such an immediate necessity, but among companies that are still high growth and rely on funding rounds, greater emphasis is being placed on profitability. It is up to the PA – and as I double as Regulatory – professional to adapt and be proactive to find what will work in a specific environment. As many of our successes don’t necessarily always fit in a quarterly profit report, the need to integrate into other functions of a company to demonstrate value is increasing.
Such contributions, in my experience, entail any or all of the following – much of which has direct exposure to government.
- Market access (new verticals / geographies)
- Government engagement (legislative advocacy / risk mitigation / relationship maintenance)
- Product approvals / compliance
- Company image management (events / media)
- Industry / external relations (which lead to collaborations )
- Contribution to the overall decision making process to assist the C-suite
To me, this requires harder practical skills and business understanding. Perhaps this will give rise to the “curious communicator” whose work is commonly seen as an essential door-opener for the traditional revenue-generating departments. For me, this has proven valuable throughout my career.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
There are a number of people out there whose feeds I follow – and they have my admiration for various reasons ranging from how they explain a concept, forging collaborations, or where they have gained access. My goal daily is to learn, so if I don’t learn something new, I find I can finish a day a bit disappointed.
However, I will mention the person who helped me form my mindset in PA, a mentor from my days in Washington, DC Walda Roseman. One of the early women in International public affairs, Walda established herself as an important contributor to global telecom policy. She opened a number of doors and likely broke some glass ceilings while at it, but she provided clarity and results for clients and organizations around the world.
Walda taught me resilience and the need to be better prepared than the person next to me.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
Yes. We are a fast-paced scale up. I owe it to my colleagues.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – with my 10 year-old who is schooling in German, but working to maintain English at home.
For myself, Still Life by Louise Penny.
Which skills will PA pros need the most in 5-10 year?
To touch upon my mention of industry challenges above, PA professionals have to be more business-minded than in the past. Strategy, profitability, and enhanced market access via government avenues must be in one’s mindset.
I don’t know of any company who likes negative surprises, so staying ahead of problems before they become an issue I find separates a good PA pro from a mediocre one.
There are few better feelings in my work than when a big piece of news breaks that appears to be serious for our industry, calls go to our department asking for clarification, and we respond saying we were in contact with whatever relevant government agency a week prior and that a plan is in place.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
Four. Including myself, we are complimented by our CTO / co-founder, technology architect who is heavily engaged in global standards organizations essentially supporting the basis of future digital identity, and a regulatory / policy manager.
On the surface, this appears like a full regulatory staff, but when we discuss with European Parliament and national governments their possible decisions on using standards for digital services we helped write – then we did our job as we speak with an exceptional level of expertise.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
We work closely with the co-founder and CTO, so we are able provide direct information to management.
However, we stand alone as a department that works to enhance product, sales, and partnerships. Our position in a highly-regulated environment can cause confusion among customers and partners, so we provide clarity in the event of questions or concerns. Again, that sounds regulatory, but our PA outlook and connections are relevant due to the nature of our emerging segment in digital services.
Where should the PA function ideally be based in an organization & why?
If the people who run the PA department are business-minded, then as close to the CEO as possible. We are in a disruptive period where many industries are being changed, so strategy, sound advice from the PA mixed with a mandate from management to speak with confidence is ideal.
About Rayissa Manning Armata
Rayissa Armata is a global government affairs professional and Director, Global Regulatory & Government Affairs at IDnow GmbH. Having started her career at the United Nations in Geneva, Rayissa worked extensively in the US for international efforts where she worked at the intersection of business and government advising startups to the Fortune 125.
She earned a M.Sc. Science and Technology Policy, University of Sussex (UK) after her Bachelor degree in Political Science and French, University of Oregon (USA)