Learn from the experts in Public Affairs – Blogger #6: Marlene Lyhne Sørensen – Director, Corporate Affairs, Milestone Systems
At which time do you wake up in the morning?
Typically, my 14-year-old daughter is the first to get up at around 6.30. That starts off our ragdoll – a big fluffy blue-eyed cat who loves company and is a very loud talker, especially in the morning. A reliable and slightly annoying alarm clock.
What is the first thing you do?
Sometimes I give myself a couple of minutes taking deep breaths before getting up. I’ve been told it has a calming effect, and it feels good indeed. But often I forget. Instead, I grab my phone and check the news.
Which news sites do you read (if any) in the morning?
Typically, I check the large news sites here in Denmark, where I am based. Occasionally, I check FT and Politico.
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I go to the office 3-4 times a week. It is a 14 kms commute, and typically I am there around 9. If bicycling, a bit later … When working from home, I usually start around 8.
How many times a day do you check emails?
I typically check my emails in between meetings. hour. I have turned off outlook notifications, so it becomes a proactive choice to check my inbox. This way, I don’t get distracted by push messages during meetings and outside work hours. If urgent, people will call or send a text message.
When is your first meeting?
Usually around 10, but with colleagues in different time zones, some online meetings start at 8.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I try to keep Monday and Friday free of internal meetings, Typically, I dedicate the two days to working from home, focus time, and/or external meetings. We have our weekly team meeting on Wednesdays, and I prefer to have those in the office. I love flexible working, and so does my team, but I believe we need to catch up in real life at least once a week.
What is the split between internal and external meetings?
The split between internal and external meetings is around 80/20 percent. Corporate Affairs is a new department at Milestone, and a lot of my time is spent on establishing the organization, building the team, collecting insights, and engaging with internal stakeholders. When we are bit further on our journey, I expect the split to be closer to 50/50.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I check the news at least 3-4 times during a workday. Not because it is crucial to do my work. Rather a habit and leftover from my time as a journalist.
How do you organize your calendar?
I use outlook and make sure to block time slots for preparation and focus time. Also, I try to keep Monday or Friday free from meetings so I can focus on bigger development tasks without being distracted.
How do you take notes?
In a notebook. My notes are a mess, and I don’t think they make sense to other people.
What is your relationship to Excel?
Tense. I am not very good at it, and I feel trapped when working with Excel. That said it is a great tool to support a structured approach. I need it, but I don’t like it.
What is your favorite app & why?
Signal. It is a messaging app, and I like that it is encrypted and not owned by Mark Zuckerberg.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
I have one external lunch or dinner per month, so that’s a rare activity. At this point, most of my time is spent on internal stakeholders.
Where do you keep up to date on Public Affairs?
Recently, I joined a network of Public Affairs specialists, who meet up four times a year. We come from very different industries, yet there are quite a lot of similarities in some of the challenges we face. I am sure I can learn a lot from them. Anders Kopp from Ulobby has also been a great sparring partner in this start-up phase. Besides, I follow the debate in news media and on LinkedIn.
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
To remind yourself that at the end of the day, it is just a job. Remember to take time off. Spend time with your loved ones.
What do you do to unwind? I do yoga twice a week and I don’t work on weekends. Once a year, me and a group of friends go hiking for 2-3 days. Mountains, walking, wine, and being with friends in weird places is a magical combination.
What is your favorite collaboration tool?
Teams is what I use most internally but wouldn’t call it a favorite.
How does your desk look?
My desk is quite tidy. My handbag is a different story.
Do you answer emails on your phone?
Yes, sometimes. It depends on their urgency and what I am doing. E.g., sitting on the train to and from work, can be a good time to answer emails.
Name a PA pro in the industry you respect and why
There are quite a few. The common denominator is trust. Asbjørn Haugstrup, Chief Communication and Public Affairs Officer, is a strong candidate. I worked with Asbjørn at the DK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was a great colleague, and he is among the most intelligent and analytical people I have ever worked with.
When you go on vacation, do you still answer emails?
Preferably not. If urgent, I expect people to call or text me.
Who is your idol?
I find many people inspiring and fascinating, but I don’t really have any idols.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
Most recently I read Linn Ullmann’s novel ‘Girl 1983.’ The author challenges her memory to describe what happened when she was 16 and went to Paris to explore her attraction to a 40+ year old photographer.
Now, I am reading ‘The Digital Silk Road’ which takes you on a journey to understand the economic and strategic consequences of China’s expanding digital footprint.
Do you read anything before you go to bed?
Sometimes, but most evenings I am simply too tired.
Which time do you go to bed?
Do you use LinkedIn and/or Twitter for work?
Yes, I use both, but mostly LinkedIn and primarily for following debates and engaging with relevant stakeholders.
How big is your PA department (PA employees)t?
It is a new department and currently has a team of 3 people.
Where is the PA departments placed in your organization?
The Corporate Affairs department is part of central functions under the CEO.
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.
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