Jeff Putt is Microsoft's Australian Windows supremo, in charge of marketing each new version of Microsoft Windows as it comes out. Needless to say, with 90% of the world's PCs running Windows, Putt's job is busy, and involves a fair amount of travel from his home base of Sydney.
How many days would you spend travelling each year?
What city do you most often visit for business?
Seattle is the most common — generally visiting two to three times a year for business connection meeting with my colleagues from Microsoft Corp and other countries.
What are your best tips for Seattle?
Seattle is a great city – though it does rain quite a lot. The climate means that the city and surrounds seem very ‘alpine’ and surprisingly green. Bellevue Square is great for shopping and is directly opposite a great hotel — the Westin Bellevue.
What's the one thing you do (or try to do) on every trip?
Try and pick up something for my kids (I’ve got a 3, 5 and 7 year old). Lego has been the theme of recent trips – but I try to mix it up a bit!
On any business trip, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I generally like to explore the hotel surroundings – which is fun in Seattle, but was a little strange when I did it in Atlanta (who knew there were so many restaurants selling grits for breakfast?)
What’s your favourite city to travel to, and why?
Istanbul — I spent a few weeks there as a backpacker about 4 lifetimes ago! It’s a city that is just a huge melting pot of cultures and influences, both historical and contemporary. It’s very foreign, but the Turkish people were so friendly.
Also London — as a colonial there’s something reassuring about the whole Monopoly-board thing – I spent a few months there while backpacking, and it’s great to see if I can find those old haunts (or wonder why I haunted them in the first place).
You’ve got a spare day in that favourite city: what do you do?
Of course you’ve got to do the tourist activities — get down to Sultanahmet and check out the Blue Mosque, for example, but some of the most fun I had was my first cut throat razor shave at what was virtually a production line barber – I’ve never felt so clean shaven!
When you’ve overseas, what are your favourite stores to shop in?
I head towards Eddie Bauer, American Eagle Outfitters, Lego (in Bellevue), Camper Shoes, Banana Republic, Ted Baker, and Williams & Sonoma.
Tell us about your best overseas dining experience.
A bit of a cop out — but one of the best was MOD Pizza. It’s a ‘made on demand’ pizza place in downtown Seattle that was just so unexpected — fresh authentic pizzas with bands like the Specials, The Jam and Tom Waits playing on the sound system – very un-American and surprising because of that.
What are some essential carry-on items you’d never leave home without?
On long haul trips, ear plugs, a good book and my daggy travel socks.
How do you typically spend your in-flight time?
Depending on the flight, I like to catch a couple of the movies, and always travel with a book. I also listen to the occasional podcast (Windows Weekly) and some old fave music. On a recent flight I spent several hours selecting photos from the past year and using Movie Maker to build a DVD for my wife’s birthday.
How do you beat jetlag?
I try to get into the destination time-zone as soon as I get on the plane. Once I’m there I try to stay awake and go to bed at a ‘normal’ time. I find the first night is always pretty good as you’re tired from travelling, but the second night – if I’m not asleep by 10pm – I’m generally awake until all hours.
What are the first things you do on a business trip after settling into your hotel?
I have a ‘arrive at the hotel’ routine – air conditioning down low, all the lights on, set up the internet and call home.
What do you like most about travelling, even though it’s for work?
It’s a real privilege to get to see the world. I still recall how I travelled as a backpacker and while it has its charms, I much prefer the current method of travelling — I generally know which hotel I’m staying at, for example.
What advice would give airlines to improve the experience of the business traveller?
Qantas (and Australian Immigration/Customs) seem to work to make the on the ground experience as smooth as possible. However, it can ruin your whole flight if something isn’t working on the plane (inflight movies, for example) and on some of the older planes that can seem a bit ‘variable’.
What are your biggest travel gripes?
I’m pretty sanguine while travelling — so much of it is beyond your control that getting upset seems a little counter-productive. Seeing other travellers go over the top in their ‘complaints’ can be a little annoying.
What’s your best travel advice?
Travel light — be realistic about what you pack; it makes things so much easier. Also do what works for you; for me that’s a routine, tickets and passport in the same pocket of my carry-on.
Finally, relax and go with the flow. When the inevitable delays happen, I find that being polite and relaxed makes it easier for everyone.
Australian Business Traveller's ‘Frequent Flyer’ interview profiles businesspeople who regularly travel within Australia and overseas and lets them share their favourite destinations, hotels, activities and tips with the rest of the business traveller community. If you're interested in being interviewed, please email [email protected].