Road Rules – Rule 23

Who: Helaine Suval (, senior vice president of merchandising and customer care,
Home Base: New York
Mileage: 100,000 miles per year
Favorite Destination: London
Don’t Leave Home Without It: Workout clothes

“If I work on Internet time, I travel on Internet time, so I’ve got to be resourceful when I’m on the road. I work for a startup located in three cities, and I manage teams at every location. So I need to visit them on a consistent basis. Whether I’m on a plane, in a cab, or on a train, I make the environment work for me. Even if I’m on the go, I make it a point to participate in conference calls.”

“Recently, I took a train from New York to Pennsylvania and wanted to be in on a critical conference call scheduled with eight senior managers. I warned them beforehand about my dodgy cell-phone connection: Yes, it was likely that a dropped call would happen along the way, and I wasn’t familiar enough with the route to time conversation breaks according to when the train would pass through dead spots. But my team appreciated my effort and called back whenever I was disconnected. The call was a successful hour-and-a-half discussion that maximized my productivity. In most cases, I only allow myself to participate in conference calls — actually leading them can wait for when I return to the office.”

“In-transit conference calls require preparation. I pull together and file background materials in advance by subject. Before the call, I place the folders in front of me and clear away excess stuff. When I can, I make copies of meeting documents and leave the originals at my office; then I toss the copies after the call.”FCS