Working abroad is always a pleasure?

I have worked for Causeway (@causewaytech now for the best part of 15 years predominantly in the UK. However, travel has always been part of the job even when I initially ran the support department and was therefore office bound. In fact my very first day involved picking up a car in Amersham before driving to a clients office in Cardiff where I was to meet one of our consultants for the first time. I seem to recall the meeting was in a pub at lunchtime.

As my job changed from support into more account management and then consultancy my travels increased. Scotland became my second home one summer when I was implementing our financial accounting software at a clients office in Perth. I found myself flying to Edinburgh on a Tuesday morning and back home on a Thursday evening. Sometimes extending my visit into four days and even five when the pressure was on to meet an important deadline.

It is however an unfortunate fact that you rarely get to see the places to which you travel. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, but during business trips you only get to see the empty streets and closed doors.

I have been to Dublin on a number of occasions, but have never been to Dublin! By this I mean that I have flown into Dublin airport, travelled to an office building in an anonymous business park and then at the end of the day reversed my steps to return home. I have never seen the city or the river which runs through it.

My first overseas trip never actually happened! I had spent some months undertaking a project accounting implementation for a client based in Belfast who built airport runways in the Caribbean. The project needed to be completed on site to ensure that everything was correct and then undertake end user training. I was to spend a week in St Lucia followed by another week in the British Virgin Islands. I had my tickets and was ready to go. Unfortunately the day before I was due to leave another, much bigger, client complained that they weren’t getting the attention they thought they deserved and so my trip to the sun was replaced by a trip to Manchester!

In the end it turned out that my Caribbean trip was not cancelled but simply postponed and the following year I found myself heading to the Bahamas for a weeks training instead. A highlight of the trip was a visit to the control tower at Nassau International Airport. The view was magnificent but it is safe to say we were all very glad when our flight home left the Caribbean airspace!

Any time travelling is improved no end by the people you are with. In Perth I was fortunate enough to sample some great restaurants with an associate consultant who was working with me. The Caribbean proved to be an enjoyable trip thanks to the directors and staff of that company who ensured that I was fully involved in their nights out and drinking sessions; although I was very much a light weight within a bunch of Irish guys who were living away from home.

2008 saw my first trip to the Middle East; Dubai to be specific. Unfortunately during that visit I was spoiled as I stayed at the five star Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel; look it up it is every bit as wonderful as it appears. There were a number of guys working away from home during that trip and so I was shown the famous and less well known sites of the city. It was a very interesting trip and one that I enjoyed very much. The accommodation for my next visit was not anywhere near as pleasant which tarnished by view somewhat and I was extremely pleased when that trip came to an end.

Although no overseas travel, 2010 saw one of my busiest periods when I was implementing projects in England, Scotland and Northern Island all at the same time. There were days that started and finished on a plane as it was constant travel between the countries.

There was a gap of a few years before we won another overseas project, this time in Abu Dhabi. This involved the implementation of project accounting for the contractor building the new Al Mafraq Hospital. As I was now the principle consultant for the accounting products I found myself on a plane heading to a part of the world I had never before been. Accommodation was a hotel just next to the Yaz Marina F1 Circuit in Abu Dhabi, very near Ferrari World and, it still seems odd to say, Ikea!

The quality of accommodation and facilities provided are incredibly important on overseas trips, particularly when they are extended over two or three weeks. On Yaz Island it was impossible to find fault. We stayed in the cheapest hotel; a Premier Inn in the UK, but oh so much better. The staff and service were as good as any I had encountered before, they couldn’t do enough to help. By our hotel were four or five others which meant that we had a good choice of restaurants  and bars providing lots of options regardless of the length of stay.

This year has seen me return to international travel, again in the Middle East. A design meeting in Bahrain; design, training and major data manipulation work in Qatar; design and implementation work based in our office in Dubai.

I have lost count of the number of trips but it must be close to one a month for the past six months or so. By the time this current trip comes to an end I would have spent 4 of the past 5 weeks overseas and by the time I break for the holiday it will be more than 5 of the last 6 weeks away from home. I enjoy the travelling but can truthfully say I am looking forward to putting my feet up in front of my log fire come Christmas.

Generally the travelling is not a problem but I have noticed in the past few days the time difference, Dubai is four hours ahead of the UK, is finally affecting me. That coupled with the very long hours I have been working, I find myself struggling during the middle of the day and then wide awake in the middle of the night!

Next year may see more trips to the Middle East when new projects are secured, plus a possible stint down under working on a highways project in Sydney. Only time will tell but I am looking forward to a few more stamps in my passport.

But for now I will close. It is 9.30pm here in Dubai as I sit outside the Business Central Towers in Media City finishing my Costa cappuccino enjoying the “fresh” air and the warm temperatures. Tomorrow is my last day here followed by a midnight start to my journey home.

Working abroad is always a pleasure!!??



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