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Real Business : Autumn 2008
REAL BUSINESS AUTUMN 2008 29 A WEEK IN THE LIFE ■■■ MONDAY AM: Wake up 25,000 feet above sea level. I am on my way to the L'Oreal headquarters in Paris to review next year's budget and business strategies. Arriving early in a cool autumn morning, I still have a chance to drop by my favourite cafe on Rue de Grenelle for an espresso. The schedule for today is very tight, with each brand presenting their budget for pproval. And I have separate meetings with e senior management to review new tiatives on process improvements, which l bring about significant lift in our iness in the near future. Meetings finished late but it's never too in Paris. I have dinner with my team at Mood, a great restaurant on the Champs es. At night I have a walk along the ps with my favourite cigar thinking the day's meetings and feeling excited he year ahead of us. UESDAY iving early in the office, I have a few more meetings to pin down some action items based on decisions made yesterday. Then I have a conference call with my team in Shanghai to discuss preparations for the agency pitch meetings, which will take place with three consulting agencies when I am back in the office tomorrow. Very often, the time difference works magic as it creates extra working hours for me. I head to the airport after a quick lunch. PM: Over the past few years a lot of my plans have been drawn thousands of feet up in the air. So I did just that on my return flight to Shanghai. I make use of the time on the ground to send out some emails from the airport lounge. After the aircraft takes off, I review the proposals that were sent to me for the pitch meeting, an open forum for the agencies to convince us they are the best to undertake a project. I am also planning for the upcoming internal audit and a team- building workshop for my team as well as preparing my speech for the CPA Forum. ■■■ WEDNESDAY AM: Arrive in Shanghai early in the morning and have regular staff meetings with my six direct reports to debrief the meetings at HQ and set work targets for the next few weeks. After that is the pitch meeting with the agencies. It's an hour for each, so my whole morning is consumed. PM: I have a late lunch with our tax director to discuss our official response to a request raised by one of our biggest distributors with regard to the compensation of VAT (value-added tax) in a disbursement process. We also discuss some recent changes in the ta x regulations and how that may impact ou r business. After that, I have two job interviews for a vacant position as business controller. At 6pm I have a conference call to discuss the business outlook for the month with HQ before heading home for din ner. After dinner, I have a good time with the kids, and we all enjoyed the cheese that I brought from France. ■■■ THURSDAY AM: Today is the inaugural CPA Forum in Shanghai. I arrive at the venue early in the morning to meet with my long-time friend Deborah Leung, who is the director of the CPA Australia Hong Kong/China division. The consul general of Australia in Shanghai arrives early, too, and we all have a good chat to catch up with each other. I am part of the discussion panel today and the topic that I cover is "Opportunities, challenges and how to enter the luxury market in China". PM: I return to the office after the presentation to attend the weekly sales forecast meeting of one of my most challenging brands. This is an important meeting to discuss sales performance for the current month and to determine forecasts for the next few months and how the year will be closed. Later in the evening is a gala dinner to celebrate the forum and the anniversary of opening the Shanghai office. It's a great chance to meet with a number of prominent business leaders and old friends. ■■■ FRIDAY AM: This is my field visit, and because of the heavy schedule this week I choose not to travel outside Shanghai. I make it a point to visit my markets at least on a fortnightly basis to review the execution of strategies and effectiveness of campaigns. In this visit, I visit our counters and shelves in Walmart, Carrefour and two local hypermarts as well as meeting with the distributor to discuss some operational issues. PM: Return to the office after lunch and debrief the brand managers of my findings in the field visit and some suggestions for improvements. Then I have a meeting with the general manager to discuss business in the week, key plans for the next one, T-3 (tier three, or smaller local markets) city penetration strategies and some changes in the budget for next year. In the evening, I attended the weekly Australian Chamber of Commerce networking with my good friend who is the partner of one of the big four firms. After that we had late dinner at the Bund, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai, to catch up on a few things. ■■■ SATURDAY AM: I get up early and I take Jack, our fox terrier, for a walk around the block. I accompany my kids to a football match with their buddies in the late morning and then we go rollerblading after lunch. It is a sunny and relaxing day. PM: After a beautiful dinner at home, I have to attend a "cigar and wine" party at an art gallery along the Suzhou Creek. It is the older part of tow n and very charming. ■■■ SUNDAY AM: As a weekly ritual, I continue to carry out our little project with my son to create a photography jour nal that documents the changing faces of Shanghai. We went to Jianguoxi Road today and took pictu res of the old houses that were built in the 30s when Shanghai was truly the only "Pearl of the Orient". PM: The weather is ideal for a barbecue. After a quick lunch we go shopping for food, including great Aussie steak of course. Once started, it grows into a big party with neighbours and their kids joining us. After all, nothing beats a cold beer on hand to unwind after a really long week. Cheers, mate! ■ NET GAINS To find out about L'Oreal's finance operation, log onto www.loreal-finance. com/v9/us/index.asp?accueil/accueil.asp Think L'Oreal sounds like a sweet place to work? www.loreal.com.au