A Work Week With Mike Harlow, General Manager of Scott Dunn Singapore
As life begins to get back to some sort of normal, we take a look at a work week of the General Manager of one of luxury's biggest travel companies, Scott Dunn.
Monday – Prepwork for the week
I try to rest enough over the weekends and enjoy the downtime to ensure I am energized at the start of the week. My day starts off relatively early, I read and listen to the latest travel & economic news in Asia & around the world to update myself. I then clear emails and reflect on my previous week’s goals before I start to plan my schedule and to-do list for the week. Monday’s usually get pretty busy and before I know it, it’s the end of the day.
To unwind, I’ll usually end the day sitting on the balcony with my wife, watching the sunset and deciding on whether we get food in or cook. I’ve always had a passion for cooking, but that’s taken the back seat since arriving in Singapore as the diversity, ease and value of take out options here has been a real treat, especially since the Circuit Breaker. Some of our favourite places to order from are London Fat Duck, Chopstix by P.S Café & Nana Thai food.
Tuesday – Getting busy – catching up with the SG team and UK/US counterparts
One of the challenges I’ve faced whilst working from home is that it has been harder to get time to think without emails, notifications, calls, and voicemails pouring in. I start the day off by spending 30-40 mins on the balcony with a strong coffee without any interruption - no phone, no radio and no TV. This time alone is important for creativity and gives me room to think through challenges without distraction. The work day then begins with a team huddle with Scott Dunn’s Singapore team, where we share updates, brainstorm ideas, review market appetite and industry talk as well as discuss travel restrictions and share border updates. Tuesdays are also when I hop on weekly calls with the UK and US team as we work collaboratively on some exciting new projects.
Communication between our global offices has become a vital element of day-to-day business. When the world closed its borders, we were able to ensure that our guests were looked after 24 hours a day, and 24hrs a day and managed to return to their home countries safely.
Now that international travel and the ability to work from our offices has been paused. Working from home and using online tools has in many ways made it easier to communicate globally. The team at Scott Dunn have been able to prove that WFH is a viable option and whilst it has its challenges, it has allowed us the opportunity to rethink the space we need as a business and how our work environment will change moving forward.
Wednesday – Full steam ahead to power through the week!
It’s Wednesday and the working week is now in full flow. I get in touch with each of my team leads to find out how their week is going, how I can provide any support they require, and get feedback on their goals and teams. I also use this time to step back from the daily grind and focus on future strategies. The ability to react and pivot as the world reopens will be key for Scott Dunn. As travel makes a slow return, people will want to explore again, there will be a greater focus on hygiene, safety and flexibility as well as meaningful travel focused on what one can learn and experience.
Thursday – Making time to keep fit
Aside from spending time developing Scott Dunn’s strategy for beyond Singapore within the SEA region, and checking in with individual team members, I also make time to move around and keep fit. Since the start of the Circuit Breaker I have replaced my usual gym workout with running during my lunch break. My favourite loop is around Alexandra Canal and the Singapore River. The changes from residential, to the nature-filled and serene canal, to the colourful (but now quiet) Robertson Quay. I love listening to a podcast or audiobook and I find that this routine gives me time to think and draw inspiration from what I listen to.
Friday – Winding down with the team & wrapping up for the week
As we’re not able to physically meet now, it’s important to keep team spirits up and find new ways to bond. Every week we have a virtual wine Friday session to learn, chat and unwind together – it’s a little tradition we used to have in the office that we’ve shifted to an e-version during this work-from-home period. The team takes turns to share personal travel experiences via a video conference. We’ve been around the world through each other’s eyes these past few months. Some recent destinations we’ve covered include Ladakh, Philippines, Egypt & New Zealand.
After the day is over, I like to end my work week with a review of my to-do lists and goals before taking a relaxing stroll with my wife to Zion Hawker Centre for Fried Kway Teow and have an ice-cold Tiger Beer.
My wife and I have been in Singapore for slightly more than a year now and with Phase 2 in full swing, we can now start getting back to exploring Singapore over the weekend again. MacRitchie, East Coast Park and Pulau Ubin are high on the list. Plus, I keeping hearing people rave about Melben Seafood for its Black Pepper Crab, so I’m hoping we get down to trying that soon!
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