Typical 24: Karen Wheeler, Affinion

What do working professionals really do all day?

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…


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Karen Wheeler

Job title: Country Manager, UK

Company: Affinion

Location: Slough, Berkshire

Years’ experience: 20+


  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    My day starts about 6am, when I review my emails at home before leaving for the office. I generally like to be in the office by about 8am. I’m an early bird and I’m far more productive in the mornings. I also like to get a few things done before everyone else arrives – my office door can sometimes feel like a revolving door like those at a shopping centre!
  2. Is your job varied?
    Absolutely, and that is what really motivates me. I can jump from client calls, to budget reviews, legal contracts or reviewing the data from our latest engagement campaign all within the space of a few hours.
  3. Is your job creative?
    I wouldn’t say that my own individual role is creative but, I spend much of the day supporting a team to come up with creative solutions to aid our clients. As a business, Affinion is all about helping our clients to engage with their customers and drive a varied array of outcomes from sales, retention, to simple awareness. Ultimately, if you are in an environment of selling solutions – you have to be creative.
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
    Most of my day is spent on calls, in meetings or on email with colleagues and clients.
  5. Do you personalise your desk?
    Not particularly but I do have a few mementos from my travels, as well as a large screen print that contains a collection of photos from some of my best overseas trips. I use this for motivation – especially when the day is a tough one.
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    No but sow a seed and I will happily expand on an idea. I am a natural problem solver which is why I like the variety of my role.
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    I don’t think so but I’m sure if you asked my colleagues they would probably be able to list a few things that I don’t realise I even have!
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    I like to think things through by myself before courting wider input. I’ve found that the best outcomes come from a team effort that draws in many people’s experience and insight so I do really value my colleagues’ involvement.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    No day is the same so it can vary widely dependent on where/what I am doing. I never stop for lunch (not good for me I know) so I suppose a normal day in the office would be around 9-10 hours. If I’m travelling into London or having to take a flight it can be a lot longer.
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    Most of the day, if not all. Affinion works with banks and telco companies around the UK and globally so keeping in contact with them is an important part of my role.
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    I find LinkedIn to be the best channel for connecting with relevant groups and businesses, as well as keeping in touch with old contacts and clients. It’s a really handy platform for sharing news and articles on subjects that interest me, like business, management and customer engagement.
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    The variety, client interaction and working with a team that is motivated to simply “get things done”.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    I don’t listen to music at work but I do keep suggesting that we should get a radio or iPod set up to create some buzz in the office. The problem is when I start the discussion we end up going round in circles because everyone wants different styles of music. We’ll never manage to suit the individual tastes of the whole team!
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    I don’t really. I have a member of the team who is constantly reminding me to eat so during the winter I tend to have cans of soup in the cupboard and in the summer, there’s a tendency not to bother. I’m usually up earlier so will have a large breakfast. Sometimes I get lucky as I am often in meetings over lunch and we get something provided but, always at the mercy of how good the caterers are!
  15. Do you socialise with work colleagues?
    Not as much as I would like to or should. I’m rarely the one to instigate a social event but love to be invited and happily join in. I spend a lot of work time with my colleagues and it would be nice to socialise with them too. I’m trying to have more social 121’s but with a busy schedule it can be difficult to devote as much time to social interaction that I would like.
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    My first job was in a bank. When I worked in the lending division my first role was to sift through huge, heavy drawers full of cheques and find the ones to be “bounced/unpaid”. Once I found the cheques I had to stamp them all with a big red RETURNED and then send them back to the unlucky customer. I was so glad when the process became automated – thank goodness for technology.
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    I tend to have a last-minute check of any new emails, clear my desk, pack my laptop in my bag to go home with me and check that I have whatever I need for the next few days, especially if I am due to be out of the office. I like to be organised so that I can relax when I get home in the evening without worrying whether I have everything for the next day.
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
       I live in quite a rural area and both my husband and I enjoy cooking. So maybe a walk on a nice evening or, in the summer a glass of wine and chat with my husband as we whip up a quick barbeque in the garden and watch the sun set over the fields.
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    Generally yes but I have started to turn off my phone/email at weekends so that I properly relax and switch off. I believe that if you take the time out you are far more productive and reenergised the next day.
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    I try not to, except maybe something to read that I didn’t get time to concentrate on during the day.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Enjoy life and don’t take things too seriously or worry too much. Work hard, treat people the way you would want to be treated and listen more than you talk! I’d also explain how you make your own luck, rarely does it just come to you and likewise if you want something ask for it (in an appropriate) way. People cannot guess, you have to tell them.
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    I am very passionate about travel, if I was 20 again I think I would take some time out to be a holiday rep – not the type that you see in the Inbetweeners but more of the off the beaten track type tours to countries that many people will never ever visit AND that are still on my bucket list. Places like Antarctica, Mongolia, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, North Pole and Costa Rica.
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
    My laptop, as this was one of my jobs to complete outside of the normal day full of meetings and calls.
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?