My Working Day – Deborah Frost – Chief Executive of Personal Group

My Working Day

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to Deborah Frost – Chief Executive of Personal Group about her working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I’d love to say I wake up at 5.30am and attend a yoga class before going into work. However, in reality, I usually get up about 6.45am, listen to BBC Radio 4 to ensure I am up to date with the latest news, then turn over to Chris Evans on Virgin Radio. Chris has been a part of my morning routine for more years than I’d like to admit!

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I always wake up starving. I usually opt for eggs on toast, porridge and banana, or bircher oats if I’ve been organised the night before. Something nutritious and substantial to set me up for the day.

What is the rest of your morning routine before you start

My husband and I chat about the day ahead. I think it’s really important to take an interest in other people’s jobs. How they’re doing at work can easily affect their homelife, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Our children have all left home now, so our mornings are fairly peaceful and quiet. No last-minute panics or squabbles about P.E. kits – those days are over!

What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?

I usually filter through my emails before I set off to work. This way I already know about anything important that requires my attention as soon as I get in. My days are spent working closely with the different teams I lead and with our clients and investors. My emails can sometimes get pushed down the priority list so it’s even more of a reason for me to check them before the day starts.

As a Chief Executive, it is vital that I am visible and vocal within the office. I try and walk around the office regularly to provide support to the teams. I hear what our insurance policyholders and clients are reaching out about. It’s one of the most effective ways to get under the bonnet of a company.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I aim for balance over the weeks and months, dividing time amongst my team equally. I schedule time in with my senior management team daily as well as time out of the office with clients and investors on a weekly basis. I believe it’s important to set time aside, stop and think. It enables us to ensure we’re providing what really makes a difference to our clients and customers.

We are continually innovating our offering. At the moment we are finalising several brand-new service offerings, which we believe offer much-needed solutions to existing workplace challenges.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

I find that my consultancy habits (before this role I was a management consultant for many years), stand me in good stead. I never set foot in a meeting without a pre-agreed agenda so people are clear about the purpose of the meeting and come prepared. In meetings, I’m often challenging myself and the team on ‘what’s the outcome we’re looking for?’ and ‘does this align with the objectives we set?’.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

I always try to take a break because it’s important to take the time to re-energise yourself and step away from your desk. Some days, however, it ends up being the buffer time in my diary to catch up on emails. I’m very aware when I have done this more than two days in a row and ensure the following day, I take a full lunch break. It’s a good habit to get into.

When does your working day finish?

We offer all employees flexible working options at Personal Group and the senior management team set a good example. Some come in early and go early, others do the school run sometimes and work a bit later. We understand that sometimes life makes it impossible to just work 9-5.30pm. I usually aim to be on my way out of the door by 6.00pm.

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

Before I leave, I run my eye over my calendar for the next day. My PA, Hayley, is brilliant and we make a great team. We tend to look ahead to the coming week, month and even quarter to allow us to plan effectively and minimise any last-minute panics.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

My hairdryer!

How do you switch off?

My husband and I see our children on the weekend and catch up with their busy lives. My step-daughter is getting married next year, and one of my daughters is moving in with her boyfriend. Their lives are flourishing, and it is great to be a part of it. We live in the countryside in Buckinghamshire. My husband grew up on a farm, so we enjoy spending time outdoors, walking and exploring new places.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.  It resonates with me on so many levels. I am proud to be one of only four female chief executives in the top 200 AIM-listed companies. I am confident we will see more women joining this list in the near future – something which couldn’t come soon enough.

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