The Knights of Room Service

By adamanonymous. August 20th, 2010. Posted in On assignment, Your career 1 Comment »


“Is there much opportunity for travel?”

We’re at a graduate recruitment milkround presentation, I’ve just stood up and enthused about the joys of consulting and more specifically my employer and the whole room is now mingling in a post-presentation hubbub. The asker couldn’t put a more open and earnest expression on her face – she’s putting so much effort into appearing attentive and professional that I suspect she won’t really listen to my answer.

(A brief digression here: at milkround events many prospective employees put lots of effort into trying to impress me as the senior consultant in the room. There’s no point. It’s very unlikely I’ll actually interview these candidates, and even if I do I’ll probably have forgotten about them by the time the interviews roll around. The person to get on the right side of in these situations is the recruiter – she’s the gatekeeper; if you can’t get past her you’re not getting a job. So, if you’re at one of these events and you’re determined to suck up to someone useful and important, target the recruitment administrator, not the partner who’s on a jolly to her old university town).

Anyway, back on topic: business travel. If you’re coming out of university then the word travel probably has connotations of a pack, a guidebook, language challenges and an endless warm summer to fill on trains and planes in exotic locales. And if you’re coming out of an operational role, then possibly travel means that once in a year shindig to a conference in Denver or Miami or Singapore. Regular overseas business travel is not at all like that, so I’d like to give you a whole new set of associations in an attempt to take the glamour out of your aspirations. Overseas business travel is:

  • Airports, planes, taxis and hotels. Sometimes a train or metro. It’s not beaches, churches, beautiful vistas, instead it’s airport lounges, baggage carousels, taxis and drivers of varying brands and competence and entirely anonymous corporate hotel rooms.
  • Becoming a connoisseur of minor, irrelevant differences between planes, taxis, and hotels. Comparing the types of biscuit supplied to determine the preferred hotel, knowing which check-in desk saves you the most time, determining which seat in cattle class gives your knees the most respite.
  • Playing Loyalty Scheme Top Trumps with your colleagues. Partly because it’s showing off but mainly because you’re in a strange town with a bunch of people you may not know very well so it’s an easy conversation topic.
  • Eating out. Every. Night. This sounds nice when you’re fed up with cooking, but it only takes a couple of weeks of having to spend every night in a restaurant before you start craving slumping on a settee to eat beans on toast. You’ll also pile on weight if you’re not careful (desserts on expenses! Brilliant!). And you’ll annoy your other half because you won’t really want to go out again at the weekend for a treat.
  • A five hour delay on Friday night. But never on Monday morning.
  • Offensively expensive breakfasts. £15 for a bowl of cornflakes and a cup of tea. Sure you could eat the full cooked breakfast every morning, but see above for weight gain worries.

The best on screen representation of business travel is not the otherwise superb Up in the Air (with a very accurate Loyalty Scheme Top Trumps scene) because George Clooney makes even soulless traveling look suave, but this rather excellent BMI advert.

Back to my earnest quizmaster then. “Yes, there’s travel, but it might not be like you imagine it”.

Photo by The U.S. National Archives

This article was written by: adamanonymous

I won't tell you how long I've been doing software project management in the consulting business, but the first big platform I worked on was a cutting edge dial-up banking service. Nowadays I run assignments and projects for a medium sized global consultancy firm, with responsibilities for sales, operating, line management, training delivery and emptying the bins.

adamanonymous's website

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James McQuarrie, Consultive Magazine. Consultive Magazine said: This week's article answers the question "Is there much opportunity for travel?" #consulting #businessTravel […]


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