Learn from the experts in Public Affairs – Blogger #4 – Ada Wong, Asia Public Affairs Lead, Sanofi
At which time do you wake up in the morning?
I’m a morning person but I have to take many late-night calls in my current role, so I treasure my beauty sleep whenever I can. I usually get up at 6:30am to prepare lunch boxes for my two kids aged 7 and 11 and then go to bed again if there is no morning meeting with Asia markets. I usually get up again around 9am.
What is the first thing you do?
The first thing I do is to check my mobile to answer any urgent work emails coming through overnight and double check my outlook calendar to make sure that I will not miss the first meeting/ call. I am getting better in terms work-life balance nowadays – at least I don’t charge my work mobile in the bedroom!
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
I typically check a couple of global news sites such as BBC and CNN to get a quick download what is happening around the world. When comes to Asia Pacific, it’s challenging to capture the “happenings’ with one site, so I like to use google news alerts to follow work-related news.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I love working remotely and only go to office on an as-needed basis. I am covering Asia Pacific markets, working for a French company, and partnering with colleagues sitting across different time zones from US East Coast to Asia (14+ hours time differences). My working hour is usually from 9am to 10pm (sometimes until midnight). By saving commuting time, I can have a ‘quick’ dinner with my family and help my kids homework in between calls.
How many times a day do you check emails?
I can’t stand unread emails in my outlook – I will empty my mailbox even during vacation (very bad habit!). I usually check emails in between meetings/ calls to make sure that I can take urgent action if needed.
When is your first meeting?
If the meeting is organized by me or I have any influence, I will usually set it not earlier than 9am in order to sleep in.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I will usually block an hour and two per day on my outlook for writing – the “quiet” time is important. I will try to take it easy on Monday for an obvious reason (after weekend!). With less busy schedule, I go to school to take Spanish lessons every Monday.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
I would say 70% internal and 30% external. I have been trying to have the latter more. Engaging external stakeholders is the best way to learn about new insights and get inspired. This is best way to develop and sustain partnerships.
How do you take notes?
I love paper notebooks such as Moleskin book or Japanese notebook with filler. I did my shorthand/ speedwriting training in my first job as a moderator (you need to take note at a lightning speed though I am the only one can read it afterwards).
What is your relationship to Excel?
Haha, Excel is my enemy. I reckon it’s very useful and I do want to get better. However, I usually give up after setting up filter and call my husband for help.
What is your favorite app & why?
I would say LinkedIn as it’s rather an efficient way to follow industry related news and get latest updates that you might have missed from other channels.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I prefer coffee over lunch as it’s more flexible in terms of timing – you can have the flexibility to schedule the meet in the morning or in the afternoon. It also gives less ‘pressure’ on those newly meet stakeholders.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
I am fortunate to know many Public Affairs folks across various industries in different parts of the world. The way of working and the opportunities that you can leverage are so different across geographic regions and industries – the best way is by engaging and learning from each others.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
It’s a million-dollar question – I’m still learning. Here are a few tips:
- don’t charge your work phone in the bedroom
- do exercise at least once per week even you are busy (you need that sweat!)
- get enough vitamin D as it makes you happy and energetic (there is plenty in Singapore though I reckon it’s hard to have it in Europe during winter time)
- learn how to say NO at work (it’s a fine art!)
What do you do to unwind? (big and small)
I like to watch same movies/ TV dramas to unwind as I’m so familiar with the scenes and scripts. I can put it on as background noise. Don’t laugh, I am a big Harry Potter fan and reckon I have watched the movies like thousand times (my HBO subscription is definitely worth it).
How does your desk look? (tidy, mess)
Our office is adopting free-seating arrangement, so the desks always stay clean. At home, it’s rather messy (I know my system how to find things). I am surrounded by three computers/ laptops with speakers (great investment for ZOOM calls during Covid-19 pandemic).
Do you answer emails on your phone?
I do answer emails rather often on my phone especially those emails that you don’t need to have a long reply. It’s my way to save time and go through emails on the go.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
There are so many and they’re good in different ways. Personally, I respect those enjoy sharing their tips and allow others to bounce the ideas off each other – it’s the best way to learn and stay updated.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
I try not too but I don’t want to have over thousand unread emails after vacation either – as such, I usually check emails before breakfast and after kids bedtime.
Who is your idol?
I do admire many people for their specific accomplishments and their contributions back to society. The latest example is healthcare professional who have been working 24/7 to save patient lives during Covid-19 pandemic. However, I don’t really have idols (public figures) per se. I would rather admire their behavior and their contributions but not ‘idolise’ these (P.S. I am not religious!).
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I’m reading The Power of Crisis by Ian Bremmer – it’s a good book to learn more about geopolitics.
Do you read anything before you go to bed?
I wish but I’m just too tired (I usually quickly browse through social media sites on the bed before falling asleep).
Which time do you go to bed?
I go to bed around 12am – it depends on the timing of the last conference call during weekdays. It’s hard to fall asleep immediately after calls. I need at least 30 minutes or an hour to wind down my brain.
Do you use LinkedIn and/or Twitter for work?
I do use LinkedIn for work but not so much on Twitter. Twitter is less popular in most countries in Asia Pacific compared to Europe and US. LinkedIn provides a handy platform to get a quick download on industry information.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)?
We have Public Affairs folks across the world – as for regional office in Singapore, I am the only one at the moment.
A few words about Ada Wong
Over twenty years Public Affairs experience across various highly regulated industries such as tobacco, alcohol, infant formula and pharmaceutical. I am currently with Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company and based out of the Singapore regional office.
My family is a typical a third-culture kids ones – I am originally from Hong Kong, while my husband is from Finland/ Sweden. Our kids were born in Singapore and study both English and Mandarin at school, while we speak English, Swedish and Cantonese at home (occasionally Mandarin for homework) and celebrate different festivals such as Chinese New Year, Swedish midsummer (crayfish is the best!), Mid-Autumn festival (mooncake), and of course Christmas (I am forced to celebrate Christmas on 24 December instead of 25 December since Day 1 with a Scandinavian guy…
The idea of the blog is to invite a new Public Affairs pro each week to answer a battery of questions about their daily tasks, habits, routines etc. and thereby provide readers with a more realistic view of what Public Affairs is really about: honest and hard work! So with this blog we want to learn from all the good or bad habits from our peers in the industry. Small things, as well as bigger things.
The guest bloggers are chosen because they are the best in the industry and they each day contribute to make our discipline better.
If you are interested in contributing to this section, feel free to reach out.
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