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Bon Journal

The glamour of jet-setting

At the energy conference in Milan, I ran into an old colleague by sheer coincidence. Although we had exchanged only one meaningful conversation four years ago, it was enough to want to renew our acquaintance. The essence of a person is quickly felt.

He told me about his year-long commute between London and Italy. To many people, staying in a five star hotel and flying business class was a glamourous affair. But he got sick of it. Eventually he met a woman in Italy and married her. Only recently, having become a father, he's decided to settle in Milan.

Once upon a time, I wanted to live the life of a jet-setter. In the air, you sit with other business executives and occasionally have inspiring conversations. On the ground, you either stay in luxury hotels and dine in fine restaurants or you're at home, packing or unpacking. The truth is, you give your life to your company. You have no personal life at home. Indeed, some high-flying jet-setters treat their homes as storage places.

After a year of back-to-back meetings on both sides of the Atlantic, I've come to the realisation that the life of a jet setter is anything but glamourous. There is no continuity in my personal life at home. One chief executive told me that he was always sick with a cold. Another said that the only time she's at peace was when she was in the air, disconnected from her mobile phone and emails.

Sure the company foots the bill. But who will foot your health? And who will reimburse your personal time when flights are delayed?

20 November 2001 Tuesday