A day in the life of Frances Sharpe

Frances Sharpe, general manager for the UK arm of ASP Network Commerce, spends a gruelling week jet setting around the USA. She...

Frances Sharpe, general manager for the UK arm of ASP Network Commerce, spends a gruelling week jet setting around the USA. She tells E-Business Review about the long days, the travelling and why she loves going out there


I arrive at the office at 8.00am with a list of preparations for an office move. I've opted for a separate office so I can hear myself think! Phones lines have to be transferred, desks packed and seats allocated. At midday, I leave for Heathrow. With a roaming phone and laptop in tow, I have to work in transit to New York. After landing, I have to wait an hour for a taxi before I get to my 10.00pm meeting with Hannah Coan, senior vice-president, international & marketing. It's not too much of a shock to have such a late meeting as I often work up to 9.00pm in the UK. And it is typical for when I spend a week in the US, I have to throw myself into it for the duration, and only begin to recover on the flight home!

Hannah flew from Seattle for the opening of EasyEverything's first New York cybercafe. We've closed a deal to provide customer acquisition and retention services to the UK-based company in the form of 'sticky' games and other entertainment techniques in its New York venture. These keep the cafe customer online longer, enabling the cafe to reap more 'bucks per seat.' I brief Hannah on the deal and what we plan to achieve at the opening and she fills me in on the US side of things.


I meet Hannah at 10.00am to review sales and deals both sides of the Atlantic. We then set off for the opening in Times Square where we have to dodge orange, jump-suited roller-bladers handing out leaflets. It was a phenomenal experience. HP's Carly Fiorina made a speech, a spokesman for Microsoft talked about its first ASP deal, leasing software facilities to EasyEverything. Even the Guinness Book of Records were there to record the opening of the world's largest Internet cafe. At 8.00pm I flew to Seattle, where Network Commerce's headquarters are based ,and reached the hotel at midnight. I enjoy working for American companies, as they are hectic and on-the-ball and really bring out the ambition in me. As a consequence, I expect to travel to and from the States regularly. The only downside to this is all the lost time travelling.


I have an 8.00am meeting about a deal announcement in the New Year. I also have two meetings to discuss wireless initiatives for the UK and Europe next year, another to address negotiations with a potential currency-settlement partner and another is concerned with company financials. Between meetings, I spend my time checking emails to catch up on activities in the UK. In the evening I go out to eat with a team of wireless experts. As the UK and Europe are ahead in this market I have to listen to all the information I can about these initiatives and provide data about where the European market is moving.

I've put a lot of effort into recruiting a UK specialist for our wireless initiatives so I can concentrate on my core role. Because of the distance, the UK team has to work particularly hard to maintain visibility and to be seen to be productive and successful.


I prepare to meet with my CEO and chairman Dwayne Walker. First, I meet up with Hannah and the International general manager to discuss what we need to achieve within the hour we've been allocated; and consider what Dwayne wants for the International business in 2001.

Dwayne's time is precious and the meeting lasts only 35 minutes. It was successful though, and fortunately for us, Dwayne had been poorly some days before so he was running at everyone else's normal pace and we were able to keep up! He oversaw the first three releases of Microsoft Windows NT, so I suspect he perfected his pace there!

Another meeting followed to discuss the ideas that Dwayne had reinforced. There are so many people demanding Dwayne's time and attention, we have to make the most of what we get.

In the evening, I went to watch a basketball game. A loudspeaker announcement reminded everyone it was the anniversary night of the Anti-Capitalist riots so we had to negotiate street blockades on the way home.


I return to the headquarters to spend the day discussing marketing budgets, purchasing and registering domain names and potential partners. We also discussed the programme I've developed which aims to acquire UK merchants for one of our portals. I don't get time to visit the headquarters that often, so when I'm there I like to cram in as much as possible. I don't like to make a habit of sitting in meetings from dusk 'til dawn, but the US input is important if I'm going to get things done.

I travel back to the airport in the afternoon to board my 6.00pm flight. As I will lose a day of my weekend in transit, I don't reach for the laptop, but take advantage of the bar instead.

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