Week in Review

The more exciting weeks in my calendar I am trying to keep in review and as the August bank holiday came to a close and most people hit the dreaded feeling of going back to work in the morning I headed off to Heathrow for an 8PM flight to New York for various meetings around our data centre expansion along with several days of hard work on upcoming deployments in both of the US facilities in which VooServers operates. Having reached the airport around 2 hours before the flight I checked in and headed through fast track security which for me carrying I.T. supplies is anything but fast when almost every item gets inspected in detail however I’d much rather know they are being thorough so I can’t really complain!

After airport security I headed off to the Terminal 5B British Airways lounge to catch up on a few e-mails and tasks over a few gin and tonics and a pre-flight snack of choice of Mexican Chilli Beef and Rice. The lounge was very quiet compared to usual however after an hour drive to the airport and with the bank holiday blues it was a nice atmosphere to be in. 30 minutes before my flight and at a point where I could leave e-mails I headed to the gate and boarded the plane where I had the usual smug feeling of being told my seat was up the stairs.

Those that know me will know I have an expensive taste but likewise I also expect value for money and whilst most of my flights are business class they are always funded through avios points from the normal expenditure of the business. As much as to some it might seem lavish to me it’s a necessity being able to work comfortably, after all I am writing this on the plane, plus get a good nights sleep so that I can perform for work both in New York and when I fly back to London with me often going straight from Heathrow at 7AM to the office for a full days work.

If you haven’t been business class before but aspire to do so then it’s a world away from economy class with a 3 class meal, personal service and staff at British Airways who really care about you. I always make an effort to have a general chat with the staff as they have so much to tell from their travels and whw knows it could be your next holiday destination that they can give you the insights on! I also hope that it differentiates me from some of the more demanding customers they can come across!

So after some more coding, e-mails, this blog write up and a few glasses of champagne it’s time for Fast and Furious 8 (or whatever they have called it this time) and a bit of sleep!

After landing into JFK and getting to my hotel at 11:30PM it’s up at 7AM and straight into a conference call with a client back in the UK. After the call I  get my bag ready for the day and set off on my morning commute past the World Trade Center and a few blocks over to our NYC data centre just off of Wall Street. The building has a Starbucks in the lobby which tends to be breakfast and after I pick up my coffee and bagel with the acceptance they’ve called me Max once again, I head into the building and get started on a few of the quick and easy tasks to get into the routine.

A few tasks off the list and its lunch time already and time to head off to a meeting with my usual suggestion of Bill’s Bar and Burger just be the World Trade Center memorial. The memorial is always a place that I take a minute to stop and look as only being 10 years old at the time of the attack I wasn’t really old enough to take in the magnitude of the events however with NYC now being a second home to me and with the growth of events in the UK it’s a site that has come to be a place of importance for me. I head into my lunch meeting which turns about some great new opportunities and after 2 hours and some fantastic food it’s time to head back to the data centre to finish off the days work. I say lunch meeting but by the time it’s finished and I’m back at the data centre it’s nearly 4PM! A few more quick and easy tasks down and I head back to my hotel about 6:30PM.

A quick change and then I’m off to meet a friend for a few drinks and a catch up at a nearby bar. The weather wasn’t much better than the UK and after a wet walk to the bar and back it was time for some comfort food in the way of the pizzeria conveniently located just outside of the hotel. Pizza is a big debate of who has the best between NYC and Chicago and having been to both the Chicago deep pan is quite special but I think I’m much more a fan of the NYC style pizza’s. Pizza taken up to the room and demolished in a few minutes it’s time to catch up on a few e-mails with the TV on in the background before heading off to bed at 11PM after what has been a long day!

The day starts with what I would classify as a lie in getting up at 8AM but then straight into dealing with a few e-mails and a couple of phone calls with employees and clients. After that it’s nearly 11AM and with housekeeping knocking on my hotel room door but another meeting at 12:30 I decided to head a couple of blocks over to the nearest Starbucks for a coffee, muffin and a few more e-mails on my laptop by which point it’s time to head to another lunch meeting, this time in a very good Mexican over towards the West side of Manhattan. The restaurant was in a new area of Manhattan I had not been in before and was pleasantly surprised by cobbled streets and older looking buildings. It amazes me that for Manhattan being in such a small area that even after 20+ trips I still find new areas that bring a completely different side of Manhattan to the surface and only a few blocks away from places I have been before.

After lunch I have about an hour before my next meeting so I head back to the hotel and as you may be able to guess catch up on a few more e-mails before heading back out. This meeting is probably the most important of the trip meeting with one of our suppliers in the US to finalise our expansion which has been an on-going discussion for the past 3 months. The meeting goes well and a couple of hours later contracts are ready to be signed and you will see some very exciting news on this front soon so I won’t mention too much now! A reasonably straight forward day finished and a few celebratory beers down with our account manager it’s time for a visit to Dunkin Donuts opposite the hotel to pick up a few stacks and then a quite evening in the hotel catching up on work and watching some TV to which with the jet lag I fell asleep to about 9PM.

A busy day ahead so up at 7AM again to catch up on the morning e-mails from the UK before another conference call with a client back in the UK. After the call I planned to be offer to the data centre for 8:30 however an issue came up in the UK which required my immediate attention and by the time that had been dealt with it was 10AM by the time I got to the data centre and again visited my friends that like to call me Max in Starbucks for another coffee and a bagel. This is where in writing this I realise how bad my diet is whilst travelling and although I was staying on the same floor as the fitness centre in the hotel not once did I make it there! I think this is one of the sides that people don’t see when they think travelling to NYC every few months must be a delight and it does have it perks but it also contains long hours, skipped meals and high levels of stress trying to fit everything in and complete on time.

With our expansion having been agreed and contracts signed I headed up to the new floor we were starting to install in at the data centre and start with preliminary installations to facilitate future growth. The installation was one of the hardest I’ve been through in some time with missing parts, delayed deliveries and things just generally not working but then again that’s the life you come to expect trying to run your own business and working out how to solve problems. With the main delivery now note due til Friday after delays at Fedex I got as much completed as possible and left the data centre about 7PM by which point I needed a beer with the day I had been through and my favourite place Bill’s is only a block over so that’s where I head! Some buffalo wings, beers and a pre-season NFL game down I’m feeling better about my day and finish up a few e-mails back in the hotel before heading off to bed about midnight.

My final day in NYC and I know it’s going to be a busy one with the late delivery now due today. Packing my suitcase and checking out of the hotel about 9:30 the streets are much quieter with a lot of people taking the day off to make the most of the Labour day weekend with Monday being a public holiday. A short walk back to the data centre and my day got off to a good start finding that my deliveries had already turned up so I could make the most of the time I had available. I set to a physically enduring day lugging heaving equipment in and out of server racks and getting it all caballed to our usual standards. 4PM came around quickly and it was time for me to get to the airport for my flight. The work wasn’t quite finished however it was at the point where I would be able to leave it for one of our local engineers to complete rather than changing my flights!

The roads to the airport were very busy with people trying to get out of the city for the long weekend so it takes 90 minutes to get to the airport however with my flight not being til 8PM there was plenty of time. Once at the airport I was checked in within a few minutes and through the priority security lines which only had a single person in front of me so I was in the lounge in no time. I have a routine in the lounge at JFK which starts with a shower to freshen up from the long day, a pre-flight dinner service in the lounge restaurant and then a couple of beers and catching up on some e-mails before boarding my flight back to the UK. Landing back in on the Saturday my wife was there to pick me up and after a quick coffee it’s time to make the hour journey back home and then off to enjoy my weekend which is where this post of my week comes to an end!

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