CFOs and travel Special Feature part 3: Sam Hopwood on travelling comfortably

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With so many companies having multinational or multi-provincial operations, it's unsurprising that "willingness to travel" is a headline job requirement for CFOs. Four finance executives who apply their strategic thinking to the business travel journey as much to the destination, shared their travel tips and tricks with Kate Ferreira.

Mars Africa CFO Sam Hopwood not only travels extensively for work and pleasure, but has moved cities and countries for work – taking no more than two suitcases with him – on more than one occasion. Sam hails from the UK originally, and comes to the South African role via Switzerland, Leeds, Nottingham and the Netherlands.
 
“I travel around once a month, both short haul and long haul. And luckily when you're travelling business class, flights become much more bearable. But there are a few things you can do to make it even more comfortable. For example, I always drink a lot of water, because being in that dry atmosphere for 12 hours or so is very dehydrating,” says Sam. 
 
Arguably though, he continues, timing is the most important factor. “If you’re flying to Europe, not crossing many time zones, you won't have to deal with jetlag, but choosing to fly at the right time is worth the extra R1,000 or so – whether you're going to spend the time working, or just getting a good night's sleep, so you're fresh for the office the next day.”
 
“I always book direct flights,” Sam adds. “I know it can be tempting to save money, but if it adds, for example, an extra 15 hours to your journey, you have to think about whether that's providing value.”
 
When possible, Sam will also spring for business class seats for his personal travel. “Thankfully, because of all the business travel, I've built up a lot of air miles through various frequent flyer and loyalty programmes. This means that I can often upgrade to business class, even on my personal trips. But I make sure I only do that on long haul flights. I don't personally see the same benefit to over a two- or three-hour flight.”
 
But it’s not all discomfort and frustrations to overcome, argues Sam: “One great thing about these flights is that it does give me time to read – something I love and wish I could spend more time doing at home. Being locked away in a cabin for ten hours can give you a great window for reading.” 

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