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A Day In The Life at Aviva - Snr Ext Comms Manager

Category: A day in the life, Aviva, Flexible Working, Flexible, women in insurance

Red background with white text overlaid, spelling Flexible Working.

Name: Sarah Poulter.

 Job Title: Senior External Communications Manager.

Main responsibilities: Responding to enquiries from journalists, issuing press releases and media statements, monitoring news stories, creating videos and developing content for Aviva’s social media channels.

How long have you worked for Aviva? 12 years.

Do you have children/how old are they? Yes: A daughter aged 19 and twins (a girl and a boy) aged 10.

How did you come to work for Aviva in your current role?

I had worked in media relations for eight years, as an account handler at an PR agency and in-house as a press officer. I’d done a bit of work in financial PR in my agency days, so it was a great opportunity to revisit this.

I’m part of Aviva’s media relations team aka the ‘press office’. If a journalist has a query about the company or one of the products or services we offer, they will speak to a press officer. And working in a large organisation, this means you could be asked anything and everything!

Describe an average day, including mornings and evenings:

I’m an early riser and the first task of the day is to walk the dog. I try to sneak out the house before anyone else is up (although my husband tells me I’m not as quiet as I think I am!).

I’m back home by 7am and I get ready for work – my outfit depends on what I’m doing and where I’ll be that day. I live in Leeds and my office is in York, but I’ll often be in London or Norwich, visiting colleagues at other Aviva sites or meeting with journalists. Some days I work from home, which means I can do the school run. It really depends what’s on each day, both inside and outside of work.

In terms of work, it seems like a bit of a cliché but no two days are the same – genuinely! I always start the morning with a ‘to-do’ list and I’ll often get to the end of the day and I’ve not even started it. Because a lot of my role depends on what’s happening in the outside world, I have to be ready to be flexible. I need to prioritise and re-prioritise when something urgent happens.

Evenings vary too. Occasionally I need to be at a work event and I’m sometimes away overnight, but usually I’m back at home and on mum duty – school bake sales, spelling tests, and general twin conflict resolution!

How has Aviva helped you to balance work with family life?

I’m lucky in that Aviva understands that people have lives outside of work. If I need to pick up the children from school, I’m able to. If there’s a doctor’s appointment or a class assembly, I can be there. If I’ve needed to be offline for a while during the day for personal reasons, I can pick up bits and pieces outside of ‘normal’ working hours.

When my eldest daughter was very little and I worked elsewhere, I missed out on so many events like sports days and school shows etc. It just wasn’t the norm to ask for time off for family events – so I didn’t ask. I regret it now. But I’m lucky that this time around, things have changed.

Aviva offers half a day of leave to parents when children start at a new school – and that’s primary and high school. My twins will be going to high school this year, so this means I can be there to hear about their first days. I’m not sure they’ll let me pick them up from school though!

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Financial services can often be seen as dry and dull, so I love the challenge of trying to show how a product is interesting and relevant. But it’s the people that really make Aviva a great place to work. I really enjoy the days I spend working from home, but it’s fantastic to meet people face-to-face, to share ideas, solve problems, and just generally bend someone else’s ear.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about working in your field?

Listen to the news, read the papers, get a feel for the types of stories that appear in different titles and which topics are of interest to different journalists. Make sure your content is relevant to them. I did many cold calling ring-rounds ‘selling in’ a news release when I first started out. I think I still bear the scars!

And never underestimate the power of good punctuation!

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