Shona Myers is new to business travel. She has been with the ARC for four years but regular work trips only recently became part of the job. Before that it was confined to one or two trips year for conferences or to other regional councils. Then between April and June this year she was out of town about 10 times, usually for one or two nights, travelling round the country talking to farmers about protecting biodiversity on private land. “Because I was brought into this committee late, it was made clear I didn’t have to get to all the meetings. So they understand my responsibilities. I got couple of weeks warning so I could discuss it with the family. I’m lucky in that I have husband who is supportive of my working.”
The children were not so happy. She and her husband Colin Macdonald, biology and science teacher at Long Bay College, have four children aged 12, 10, six and five. Leaving them makes Shona feel guilty: “I compare us with other families and worry about what they’re missing out on, or whether it will have some long term effect.” The first time she want away she left little chocolate bars on the table for when they got home. “You try and leave little bit of something of yourself.” She usually has week’s notice before trip and tries to plan for it, tidying the house if there is time, getting the washing done and put away, the beds made. She leaves exact details of where she’ll be, phone numbers and names, where she is staying, where she will be during the day and what she will be doing. She takes the office cellphone so they know they can contact her easily and she calls them in the evening.
“I talk to as many as I can but sometimes they are reluctant to talk to you. My youngest son won’t talk because he’s bit annoyed I’m away and I understand that. You worry about silly things. My husband’s supportive and really good about the basics – cooking, lunches, getting them organised. You just worry about the fact they will miss you. You know Dad’s not quite the same as Mum. Some of their problems they won’t share with him. They’ll wait till you get home.”
Yet despite all her concerns, like majority of women who travel for business, Shona finds real satisfaction in being able to concentrate totally on something where she can use her expertise and training.
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