I now had a new job in a completely different industry. I was able to work from home, and I would be traveling a lot more than I did in my previous job.
I continued with my Master’s program and found myself doing homework on planes and in hotel rooms. To study is hard enough, but doing so in less than perfect conditions is not the easiest way to go. However, failure was not in my vocabulary.
I’ve had so many people who say they think it would be cool to travel for work. I understand the thought process and for the most part, I’ve been very lucky to visit the places I have been able to go. However, I quickly found myself in all kinds of travel situations.
First of all, I have been lost in every city I have ever visited. I have had rental cars with flat tires, and planes that had near misses in the air and on the ground.
One time I was boarding a plane as the fire warning went off. As I was passing through the First Class cabin, this really cute guy looked at me and said, “Those pretty blue eyes just lit up on that one.” I replied back, “If this thing is going down, you better pass back those free drinks to me.” We both laughed!
One time I had a guy sitting next to me who had to use the bag to, well, you know what the bag is for, right? Another person was sick and sneezing all over everything. And, I do remember the guy who picked at his teeth the entire trip… nice! You still think travel is always glamorous?
Occasionally a nice person will help with luggage, but for the most part, ‘road warriors,’ as we are commonly called, have to fend for ourselves. And, luggage is a lot heavier the wearier you become.
I had a coworker who also had terrible travel. We both were tagged with the ‘black cloud of travel’ label. This coworker actually had one of the best stories I’ve heard though. She hated using the restroom in an airplane, but this particular time she had no choice. She was trying to get up, and apparently, the toilet grabbed the bottom of her pants legs when she sat down and her pants became so tight on her legs she could not get up.
Trying to get out of the pants, and trying everything she knew to get away from the attack toilet, she had to hit the ‘call’ button for a flight attendant to help her. Poor girl, it was the funniest thing I think I have ever heard happening while traveling.
On to the new job and how I approached my new role. When starting with a new company, especially in a new industry, you have to prove yourself. I was now working for a bank after working in the manufacturing business for over 21 years.
I had a very kind mentor help me ‘learn the ropes’ so to speak. The kind mentor was my account manager I worked with for my own card program with my former employer. It was nice to know someone I could trust. She actually went with me on my first several client onsite meetings.
I learned from her how to interact with clients. I learned how to take the knowledge I knew and come up with ideas to help the clients succeed with their program. I absolutely loved my new role once I knew I had something to bring to the table.
I quickly became a favorite of several on the sales team, since I had been a client before and worked in the environment they were selling to, such as accounts payable, purchasing, and travel. I soon became the resident expert when dealing with client issues. I loved to understand each client and their unique situations. It involved knowing their specific culture, and what they could and could not do.
I remember one of my very first implementations was with a client up on ‘The Cape’ in Massachusetts. I remember driving a long way before I finally reached the tiny hotel for the night. When entering my room, the heat had not been turned off, and it was really cold. It took a long time for the heat to kick in, but I woke up, and it was about 80 degrees in the room. Hotel rooms are fun, because it takes forever to get the room temperature right. By the time you get the temperature right, you have to leave!
When you travel alone for work, you have to get used to eating alone. Usually when you visit a very small town, and they only have local restaurants, you eat alone. So, as you can see, the glamorous travel can be rather lonely as well. You have to become ‘street wise’ to stay aware of your surroundings. If I can help it, I do not go out alone, especially at night when I do not know much about my surroundings.
I remember walking into my meeting the next morning, and with an apparent southern accent to the people on the Cape, I smiled and said, “Good morning, how is everyone today?” The guy I was meeting with quickly said to me, “Stop with the Southern crap and tell me the ten things I need to do and get the hell out.” I could feel my face turning bright red.
I wanted to say something to him, but when you are representing another company and its reputation, you have to be polite and keep your thoughts in check. I simply wiped the smile off of my face and handed him a document of the ten things he needed to do. I asked if there were any additional questions and then left. You have to adapt to the client.
I have learned to keep an open mind in business. I’ve learned different cultures, different industries, and what makes each client different from the previous client. I learned quickly how to read people and know when I needed to try to explain an idea or suggest doing things in a different way.
As in life, trust your instincts. Learn to laugh at the situations that happen to you, and keep an open mind. Listen and learn. Sometimes, you will be surprised what you may learn.
Join me next month to hear about how I moved up the corporate ladder and advanced my career. And, I know, you can too!
Robin Anderson earned her BBA and MBA from Averett University and graduated with a 3.88 GPA. She is also a member of the Pinnacle National Honor Society and a member of the Institute of Financial Operations as well as served on the Strategic Advisory Committee for several years and has been a speaker for 4 years at the National Convention. Robin volunteers her time with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the ALS Association, and speaking for Averett University. Contact
Photo Credit – Flare