Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oh, the Joys of Corporate Travel.

I'm finally back home from my first long work trip of the year. It was nice to get to March without an overnight trip for work -- although this one made up for it. I had 6 flight segments and 3 different hotels in 5 days. (The upside is that I was upgraded to 1st Class whenever it was available, and I earned quite a few miles. Plus, there was sunshine, even if I was inside most of the time.)

The past week was actually more interesting than most of my trips. First we started in TX, at Texas A&M, interviewing undergrad and grad students in the Food Science department for internships. I am so impressed by the quality of the students and really enjoy being part of screening them for internships. I do have a vested interest as these folks will someday be my colleagues. In the next 5-10 years a lot of our most senior people will be retiring and there is a shortage of food science students to back fill those jobs. While it feels a bit strange to not be the young/new kid any more, and I'm glad that I can give back by interacting with the students in this way. Most of them don't really know what professional jobs using their education will look like, and are woefully short on knowledge about interviewing, resumes and cover letters. We were able to give coaching and feedback on this part as well.

Then it was off to CA for the Natural Products Expo West convention. This is a trade show for the natural products industry. All the big players and many of the smaller ones are there to showcase their new products and interact with the rest of the industry. My interest is looking at the trends and looking for new ingredients or raw materials. Plus, I love to visit the booths of some of my favorite brands and find out what's new with them. If you had room in your suitcase and the time, you could take home a lot of great samples. I didn't have much of either, so I concentrated on small things -- like lots and lots of tea samples. I'm so glad that the tea companies and the market is catching up with me. I have so many types of teas to choose from now, and that fills the gap that I used to fill with Diet Coke. I was really struck by one trend, a tea company that is marketing teas for kids. Herbal with lots of fruit and other flavors coming from the ingredients. Now parents can start their kids on drinks that are low in sugar, high in antioxidants and steer them away from soda or juice drinks. Very cool!

We also went to dinners and events sponsored by a couple of our suppliers. I even learned to play craps at one of them. Totally fun -- if we ever go to a casino (highly unlikely) I'll definitely want to play. Then it was time to get up very early and head home. Unfortunately, the flight back was complicated by the fact that I have yet another cold. It's uncomfortable to fly when your ears are full of fluid and all you want to do is go to sleep. That's all I've done today and I doubt I'll make it into work tomorrow. Sigh. I long for sunshine and warm weather. Bring on Spring Break!

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