Joan O’Connor has been working at Coca-Cola for almost 18 years – she claims she came straight from school! She’s currently Brand PR Director for Western Europe, and just got back from Paris where she helped launch Coca-Cola's new global marketing campaign, Taste The Feeling. In the first of our ‘Day in the Life’ series, Joan, who lives with her 14 year-old daughter in a small village called Pitsford, in Northamptonshire, takes us through a typical day in the office.
I’m not very good in the morning… my alarm normally goes off at 6.30am but I always leave it for two snoozes, before jumping out of bed and trying to wake-up my daughter. My tactics include turning on the lights, tickling her toes, leaving the curtains wide open and giving her half an hour to doze.
I always have to make a cup of Yorkshire Gold tea in the morning … and if I’m feeling good I’ll have a glass of water with half a squeezed lemon. After a quick shower I’m usually running around doing my hair and make-up. I can tell when my daughter’s up because she plays her music very loud, and it’s a bit of a battle between trying to listen to the news on BBC Radio 4 and her latest playlist.
My commute is part of my working day… I leave the house at 7.45am, drive to the train station (listening to BBC Radio 6 Music) and then it’s a 45 minute train journey, during which I go through my emails – it’s a great way of clearing my inbox. I’m always amazed when I see people on the train who are snoring or watching films as I like to make the most of that time.
A decaf coffee on the way to work… it’s a ritual before I arrive at the office at 9.30am. If I’m not travelling, my day in the London office will start and end with meetings, either on the phone with colleagues all around the world, or with people in the office from the marketing teams. We’re looking to make Great Britain a centre of excellence in brand PR for Coca-Cola, so that’s one of my main priorities for 2016, as well as doing something special for summer and Christmas.
Grabbing an early lunch… I’m usually staving as generally I tend to only have fruit or skip breakfast, so I eat in the café around 12pm. It’s usually a working lunch, which means I can continue to plough through the day.
I work with PR agencies, my virtual team… so some afternoons I’ll meet with them so they can present their ideas, review plans or develop content for markets. What I love are the interactions with the agencies and meeting people inside and outside of the business. I’m a bit of a sponge actually, I soak up ideas and points of view which all go towards how I can use brand PR to help our business talk to consumers, media and stakeholders in a positive and compelling way.
I really enjoy my role… it’s very creative and is built on relationships. What I love are the interactions with the agencies and meeting people, because I think it really gives you great insights and new ideas and different ways of looking at things.
Towards the end of the day… I like to do a ‘to do’ list so I’m clear on what’s needed the next day. It’s a great feeling when you get to strike each one off!
I generally like to walk… from the office on Wimpole Street all the way to King’s Cross St Pancras for a bit of exercise, as I don’t leave the office much, except for meetings during the day. I try to run three times a week, although admittedly that’s easier to do that in the summer, whilst in the winter my runs are packed into the weekend.
I’m ploughing through my emails… again on the train home, and in the car I listen to Front Row on BBC Radio 4. I work at home on Fridays, which I’ve done since my daughter was born. It’s really great not having to commute every day.
After work… My daughter will do her homework before I get home (so she says), and by the time I’m back she’ll be on social media and listening to her music before we have a bite to eat. In the evening we’ll sit together and watch a film, share news, talk and totally unwind.
We’ll be up together until about 11pm… she’s always been a late sleeper because of my commute. Even when she was a baby she would go to bed later than normal so I could spend time with her, and that hasn’t changed.
Finding the work / life balance… Coca-Cola has always enabled me to have that work / life balance, but I believe you find your own balance, and having the freedom and trust to do it on your own terms is motivating.
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