Archive for February, 2011

Metro, Boulot, Do-Do . . .

15 February 2011 3 comments

As I recently just had my end-of-year review at work (that I passed with flying colors), you could say I have found my groove.  It is a sustainable groove allowing me appreciate the good rhythms, navigate the quick beats of stressful deadlines and motivate through the doldrums.   So how does this DJ spin?  Let’s take a look.

6h00 – Alarm goes off to this random French radio station I found.  At this hour is the business news which makes for an interesting vocabulary lesson on the brain first thing of the day.

6h25 – I actually get out of bed and look out across my terrace to make sure the Mediterranean Sea is still there.  The sun is beginning to rise adding color to the new day.

7h02 – By now I am all showered and ready to go with a little time for a small breakfast of yogurt and fruit.

7h23 – I am racing down my 7 flights of stairs (for a little exercise instead of the elevator) to go around the corner to my bus stop.

7h31 – I am boarding the #230 bus direct to Sophia-Antipolis via the autoroute.  These regional buses are practically like tour buses with nice cushion seats; not the typical public transit bus seats like those within the city of Nice.  I pop in my headphones and check what has happened on Facebook from my iPhone from the previous night.  Then I usually take a few minutes to read.  (Option B at this point is not too often sleep.)

8h10 – I arrive at the side door of the Amadeus campus in Sophia-Antipolis (pending there was no accident on the autoroute).  I go up to the 5th floor where my office is located and start up my computer.  I am typically the first one to arrive within my office of 5 roommates.  Then I take a quick glance at my e-mail to see if there aren’t any urgent messages or if Bangkok (our internal help desk) processed one of my Work Orders overnight.

8h24 – I head to our on-site café for a standard breakfast of a croissant, orange juice and a café au lait.  I also get banana to keep for an afternoon snack.  Often I meet another colleague so we catch up; mutually building up the energy to face the day.

petit déjeuner?

petit déjeuner?

8h50 – Back at my desk deciphering which task to tackle first.  I focus on some writing of help topics that is going into our next release of a hotel revenue management product.  Even though our online help needs to be in 15 languages, the business process is to produce all documentation in English first.  Then a translation team replicates my team’s projects into the various languages.  This business strategy is a key reason there are so many Anglophones in my department (British, Irish, American, Australian, South African, etc.) and not a lot of French.

10h00 – I attend a meeting with my Team Lead along with a Trainer, Special Project Managers and Product Managers on the new release of our authentication software (how our users login).  We are focusing on developing the documentation (online help, user guides, quick guides) from one source.  We need to begin analysis on all audiences that will be using the documentation including airlines, travel agents, hotel clients and even our internal help desk in Bangkok.  We isolated our test markets to be Scandinavia, Zambia and Korean Airlines.  Release date isn’t for another 8 months.

11h05 – Coffee break needed.  If the vending machine is working properly, we are happy and we head to the terrace for breath of fresh air.  (I will say I am fortunate that my office is close to this terrace for breaks; not everyone at Amadeus is this fortunate.)

11h16 – I am searching for lunch companions on our Instant Messaging service.

11h20 – Back into my writing.

11h57 – Heading off to the cafeteria (actually the canteen as the Europeans would say) with a colleague.  The food isn’t bad but it isn’t exceptionally good either.  I have to give them credit for serving a descent meal to potentially 2,000 employees that could walk through.  Plus they make an effort to provide a well-balanced menu of choices.  It is not fast food quality.  The real challenge is after the cashier and everyone is scrambling to find a table and chairs; space is at a premium.   We got notice that Amadeus has committed in 2011 to expand this space recognizing a dire need.

12h55 – We finish our lunch and depose our trays and head to the café for a coffee to complete the meal.  Everyone is eyeing the seating available outside for another opportunity to be in the sun.  Well that and the fact several of my colleagues want to enjoy a cigarette.

13h23 – Heading back to the grind.  Yes, lunch usually lasts 1.5 hours.  This is very French.  Do not disturb them during this hour and no one eats at their desk (unless there is a deadline).  One of the biggest HR issues in this country is the complaint “my manager interrupted my lunch to ask me to do work.”  I kid you not.  It did take me a while to adjust to this way of life.  My American mindset told me as soon as you finish eating go back to your desk.  Not here, you truly enjoy your time and conversation with your colleagues.

15h05 – Another coffee break.  I have been occupied with doing screen captures using Adobe Captivate 5 for an e-learning project on how to do airline reservations on our graphical interface.  I found it shocking that we still support the old fashion command prompt version of this software much like the old days of MS-DOS.  Why?  Because the airline staff is stubborn and doesn’t want to break old habits.  They have already memorized the crucial commands to issue tickets and boarding processes.  They aren’t using our graphical interface as we would like them too so we have to support both.

16h12 – Eat my banana.

16h45 – I log my time for the day in our internal system of which projects received my man hours of the day.  I also report any key changes or events that may have occurred.

17h00 – Promptly leave the office to head downstairs for the bus stop.  The culture here is to work typically a 9 to 6 schedule but my commute is much easier if I do the early in, early out strategy.  For my work colleagues in Philadelphia, they will find this very bizarre behavior.

17h08 – I get on the express bus that heads straight for the autoroute and then Nice.

17h49 – Back home and checking my mailbox for any bills.

18h00 – Planning what to do for dinner.  Cook? or call a new friend for dinner out?

Of course I describing a generic timeline and there are always variances.  We do have our moments of stress.  I had one day recently where our Learning Management System (LMS) went down and as soon as I got in at 8h00 it was non-stop action.  I even had to shorten my lunch 😉 and take a much later bus.  My colleagues have a full days when a document goes to publication as we have a strict process; often those are days they may have to eat at their desk.  I would say the stress level here is of peaks and valleys and back in Philadelphia it was a constant flow.  That statement is as much a comparison of two very different companies as much as two different cultures.  France isn’t a total land of leisure as I am hearing more and more about the stress of Paris; the New York of France.  There often the inhabitants work long hours, have long commutes across the city and stress out about making ends meet financially.

In the end, I now can say the typical phrase of the French when you ask how their day was “Metro, Boulot, Do-Do” translated as I commuted, worked and slept.