Sofie Brewis is an Associate Vice President at Prosek Partners, a leading financial PR & communications agency based in New York.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am an Associate Vice President at Prosek Partners, a leading financial communications agency in New York, but it wasn’t a straightforward path.
Originally from the UK, I actually started my career working in recruitment in London. It was a great way to get to know the business world and build my network, but after a couple of years I realized I saw my career going in a different direction and I needed a new challenge.
I thought through all of the things I enjoyed about my job – meeting clients, working with large corporates, account management, writing content – a move to financial communications was a perfect fit!
I secured a job at one of the largest independent communications firms in London and specialized in banking, advising clients on a range of issues from media relations through to crisis management.
Then in 2019, I had the opportunity to move to New York and join Prosek Partners, an award-winning global agency. I have always wanted to live in New York and so jumped at the chance!
As an AVP at the firm, I manage a diverse client roster across the financial services space, from large global investment banks to private equity firms and startups, helping them navigate today’s unprecedented landscape.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
One of things I love most about what I do, is that no two days are the same! Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly stressful at times, but it is also what makes it so interesting.
I am an early bird, so I check my emails first thing in the morning from bed, to see what has come in overnight from my international clients, as well as scanning the top news headlines of the day.
Next, is of course a strong coffee, usually followed by client calls and internal meetings with my various account teams. Managing multiple client accounts across the financial services industry, especially in today’s tumultuous economic environment, means that I can go from developing a communications strategy, to speaking with a journalist, to managing a crisis situation with a client, all within a few hours.
While I do have some longer days, I typically try to finish by around 6.30pm and then either go workout along the East River or meet friends for dinner.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Before this year, I rarely worked from home. I love the energy of being in an office environment and collaborating with colleagues, but since the pandemic, our office has been fully remote.
It was a huge adjustment at first, with the blurring of work and home meaning I needed to be much more structured about my day, establishing a designated area for work to allow me to switch off in the evening.
While I am definitely more of an office-type, I’ve appreciated the flexibility working from home can allow and I think that businesses will likely continue to offer the option in some capacity, post-pandemic.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
The news cycle is 24 hours a day – meaning that at any point, something could blow up for a client. This can make it pretty hard to balance work and a social life, especially today with everyone connected digitally via their phones.
But I think it’s all about moderation. If I work late one night, I try and finish a little early the next day. Exercise also has a huge impact on my overall mood and wellbeing.
Over the past couple of years, I have really gotten into hiking – minimal phone reception combined with fresh air and amazing views – it’s the perfect way to de-stress!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I feel over the last 12 months, everyone has probably picked up and dropped many habits while adapting to the new Covid-era! As part of my goal to get out every day and step away from my desk, I started going on podcast walks.
So even if I couldn’t be bothered to do a proper workout, I would at least go on a walk for around 30-40 minutes. It also really helped distract me from the fact that I was walking around the same 20 blocks again and again during the lockdown as we couldn’t go much further!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Newsletters are a great way to get a summary of the morning news straight into your inbox before you wake up. I subscribe to all the major business newsletters including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
As my job involves reading so much news every day for my clients, in my spare time I love to engage with content that is more light-hearted. I have been really enjoying Louis Theroux’s new podcast ‘Grounded’ where he interviews some great guests.
‘How to Fail’ by Elizabeth Day is also an excellent series about how failure can actually teach you how to succeed. And I am slow to the party, but I finally just finished Michelle Obama’s book. A must read!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
It’s obvious, but my iPhone. I don’t have loads of apps or anything – I like to keep it pretty simple. But it’s the best way to stay connected, both for work and with my friends who are based all around the world.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Good question! I think there are so many amazingly successful women who are breaking down barriers in the corporate world, showing that you can achieve some sort of work-life balance – whatever that might mean for you.
While I am hesitant to promote the cliché that women “can have it all,” I think it’s all about how you perceive a situation and being kind to yourself on days where you might feel like you fell short of your own expectations.
Marianne Lake, CEO of Consumer Lending at JP Morgan and long-time confidante to Group CEO Jamie Dimon, has always been an incredibly impressive person to me – a British woman who has built a hugely successful career on Wall Street, all while being a single mother to three kids. I am sure it isn’t easy, but she makes it work for her!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Establish boundaries and stick to them! Especially as we go into the winter months and continue to work from home with Covid. As it gets colder and darker, I think it is going to be even harder to switch off and motivate ourselves to get outside, but I think it’s essential.
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