Millennium Mom

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A true partnership

If any of you have read my book you know the first cardinal rule is "it takes a partnership." The original title for that rule was "marry the right man." I think I have said this before. You would also know that I consider my husband a true partner. He has proven to me yet again how lucky I am.

Every year I have to do at least one trip to Asia. The past year I have done an "around the world" trip. Let me explain. There are four major sites that I need to get to at least once a year. Kobe, Japan where our conditioners R&D group is, Guangzhou, China where our Rejoice Brand Franchise team is (that is a big brand in Asia), Darmstadt, Germany (outside of Frankfurt) where our Styling R&D group is and Geneva, Switzerland where the Head & Shoulders and Professional (think salon brands) Brand Franchise teams are. Thankfully the Pantene, Herbal Essences, Gillette and Shampoo R&D are in Cincinnati with me.

I started (and thankfully my team members went along with) around the world to limit my time away from home. If I took a full week I could see all four sites in one go versus 5 days for Asia and 4-5 for Europe. We figured out we could leave on Saturday to get to China on Monday morning. We go straight into meetings and head to Osaka that night. Spend the night in hotel and go to meetings the next morning. Head to airport that night and go via Bangkok to Frankfurt (you sleep on plane) to arrive on Wednesday. One time we asked the China team to come to Japan, which made life a little easier. We spend Wed in Frankfurt and either that night or the next morning head to Geneva, which is less than hour flight. Meetings in Geneva Thursday and Friday AM. Go to Paris Friday night and home Saturday, one full week away.

This year we really need to spend more time in Asia, including in-home visits with what we refer to as China II consumers. These are low income consumers, well below what we would call poverty level in the US. We as a hair care company are trying to figure out how we meet their needs given their washing habits and infrastructure are very different from the developing world or China I where consumers have heated water, showers, etc. I can't wait to be in their world and experience first hand their living conditions so I can work to make their lives better. I also have a project where our test market is Japan, so I need to spend extra time there too.

One would think this would make travel easier but it doesn't. If you have ever traveled internationally, the hard part is going one direction then turning around and coming back. I am fairly experienced so I don't really get jet lagged. Going around the world you are always heading the same direction, so it is much easier. When you come back from Asia you leave there in the afternoon and get back in afternoon (the same day) after 15-20 hour flight. So the key is to take a long enough nap that you can stay awake a few hours when you get back, but not too long that you think it is morning when you get home.

The trip also ends up being longer. When you work globally you need to be conscious of other culture holidays, and Asia has a lot of them. This time of year is Golden week in Japan and Chinese New Year, so to work around them we are going to Japan on a Thursday, Friday and then China the next Monday and Tuesday. But to enable that I have to leave Cincinnati Monday night and won't return until Wed night, 9 full days for 4 days of work. The good news is I have to spend the night in LA so I will see my high school friend Chrissie who I haven't seen in years.

So going back to my title, I am reminded my husband is a true partner as he will handle the kids by himself this entire time. Normally we bring in our parents to help, but mine just left, and Arnie's are coming President's weekend right after I get back so Arnie and I can go away. So he said "I can handle it" and we will try it out. I am sure our neighbors will help a bunch, I will make a lot of meals ahead of time and partner from afar, as much as I can :)


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