Home for the Holidays
Siri Maldonado, Director Marketing & Communications, recently sat down with two of Harbinger’s frequent travellers, Monem Ansari, Learning and Change Management Consultant, and Gregory Roth, Partner, to get candid on what it’s like to be home for the holidays.
SM: You’re both on the road 90% of the time. What do you love the most about travelling for work?
MA: I love going to and exploring different cities. Since joining Harbinger three years ago, I’ve had the chance to visit cities all over the United States. One of my good American friends had a good laugh about me, a Canadian, making it to so many places. I’m grateful for this opportunity to see the country, which wouldn’t have been possible without this role.
What I love most though is the chance to meet and learn from so many amazing individuals. It’s been eye-opening to see how much potential exists out there.
GR: I’ve been travelling for work since 1998. To me it’s always been about saying yes. This positive mindset has taken me near and far. I have now visited 40 countries around the world. There are many things I enjoy about travelling for work, including the opportunity to establish relationships with fellow colleagues that travel and my second family – the hotel staff who are the first ones to greet you in the morning and the first ones to greet you when you return for the evening. As an introvert, travelling also challenges me to grow by being in so many different environments, people and cultures.
I’m also appreciative for the time I get to unwind. While I’m working I’m focused and always giving it 110%. The times I have alone on the plane, with my earphones in, gives me the chance to re-enter and actually contemplate the horizon just out the window.
SM: Talk about one of your most memorable trips.
MA: I’ve loved visiting all the cities I’ve travelled to so far, but one of the most memorable would have to be when I spent a month and half in Phoenix, Arizona. The landscape is absolutely gorgeous and I was spoiled by hikes after work to Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Mountain. The world famous Grand Canyon and Red Rock Canyon were truly mind-blowing, humbling experiences.
GR: There are so many to choose from since I have been travelling for two decades now, however one of the most stand-out moments would have to be working from Churchill, Manitoba where I was completing training with polar bears looking over our shoulders. It was incredible.
I will also never forget the first time I got a round-trip ticket to fly around the world. In 30 days, I flew from Sweden to Moscow, Moscow to Singapore, Singapore to Toronto and Toronto back to Sweden.
SM: What does it feel like to be home for the holidays?
MA: I’m often on the road for months at a time, so it’s great to now have a few weeks to spend time with my family and loved ones. This is also one of the best times to be in the city which is always very festive. I know many people may not agree with this statement, but I love the cool, crisp weather at this time of the year. While I have a number of cities I adore, Toronto is home and I love the music, people and food.
GR: It’s the real gift of the season. I’ve spent so much time travelling the world. It has always come at the cost of being somewhere other than home. Seeing the world and gaining these new experiences has really helped shape who I am today, but it also made me realize how much I love my family and friends, and being a Canadian. There’s definitely no place like home.
SM: Tell me about some of your family traditions for the holidays.
MA: One of our holiday traditions is Mawlid al-Nabi, the prophet’s birthday. We spend the day sharing lessons from his life and relationships, and of course, eating lots of food with family and friends.
GR: “Stockings hung by the chimney with care” are a huge thing for us during Christmas and something we take very seriously. It all stems from my childhood. There’s nothing better than finding a clementine in the toe of my stocking. The real fun though is spending the entire year carefully curating small gifts for the people I love with treasures from near and far.
SM: Top travel tip. Go!
MA: If you frequently travel for work or personal, I highly recommend getting a Nexus. Greg said “it will change your life,” and I haven’t looked back since.
GR: Other than getting a Nexus pass, get out of the line immediately if there is a flight cancellation! Hop on the phone with your favourite hotel. You’ll be tempted to let the airline assign and decide. Don’t listen to that little voice. Chances are you’ve already had a very rough day by that point. What you need is a good night sleep in a hotel that isn’t 45 minutes away. It’s always a race for the small number of available rooms near the airport. Find a place to rest your head and then tackle the flight that will ultimately get you home.
Harbinger travel diaries is a new series covering the lives of our consultants on the road. Our first entry is written with gratitude from Monem Ansari and Gregory Roth.