Who: Danamichele Brennen O'Brien
Company: Rosenbluth International
Has held title for: 19 months
Previous title: Director, global marketing and product development
Degree: BA, University of California, San Diego; MS, Carnegie Mellon; MS, Wharton School
Business may be an art, but Danamichele Brennen O'Brien is turning business travel into a science. As the head of a research team at Rosenbluth International (annual sales: $3.5 billion), O'Brien is developing services designed to turn reservation agents into travel consultants. The goal: not just cheaper travel, but better travel.
What's wrong with business travel?
There's nothing fun about business travel. It's tiring; it takes you away from family. The key is to understand when travel really is productive — and when you can avoid it.
What's your idea for fixing it?
We want people to think in terms of "travel management" rather than "travel expenses." Don't just analyze how much a trip cost; analyze how successful it was.
How do you test your ideas?
I spend at least half of my time with clients. They help me test whether what's coming out of our lab is worthwhile.
Are you a science nerd?
My father is a professor of engineering at Caltech, so maybe it's a family thing.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb/March 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.