You Discover Your Rental Car is Towed, and It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

Mike Holmes talks about a business trip gone bad at every turn
Michael Holmes, R&D Ecosystem Manager, FMC
Michael Holmes, R&D Ecosystem Manager, FMC

Michael Holmes is currently an R&D Ecosystem Manager at FMC at the global R&D site in Newark, Delaware. His work focuses on FMC’s efforts around building an external ecosystem of partners to help drive innovation in the crop protection field. Previously, Michael was an herbicide chemist in the Discovery Chemistry organization focused on the discovery and optimization of new active compounds.

Michael earned a BS from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, NZ, and then he earned a PhD in natural product synthesis at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the Britton group. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas, Austin, in collaboration with Eli Lilly & Co. in the group of Michael J. Krische before beginning his role as a chemist at FMC in 2018.  


What is the one essential piece of personal tech you always travel with? 

I don’t go anywhere without my e-reader. There is no better way to pass the long hours on a plane or in an airport than with a book. So much more convenient than physical books.

Window or aisle?

This is the eternal battle between my wife and me – she prefers the aisle and I like the window seat. The window is clearly superior with the views and nap potential but if we are flying together, aisle it is. 

Where would your dream business trip take you? What appeals to you about this destination? 

Northern Europe is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, and I’ve heard great things about it. FMC has a Plant Health R&D group in Denmark, so I’d love to make it across there at some point soon.

Airport you are highly motivated to avoid, if at all possible. Why?

I try to avoid LAX whenever possible. So far it seems that when my route goes through LAX, something will go wrong. Whether it be immigration hassles or canceled/delayed flights, that airport seems to be bad luck for me. 

How do you pass the time while flying?

I’m lucky in that I can normally sleep pretty well on the plane. So, most flights are a mixture of naps and reading. 

What is your go-to snack to bring on-board the plane?

I’d love to say that I eat healthy when travelling but that would be a lie. Some chocolate/lollies are typically what I’m snacking on while flying. 

Favorite ACS meeting site?

I feel terrible about this, but I have yet to attend an ACS conference. Every time I’ve been scheduled to go, something has come along to disrupt that trip – Covid being the most recent one in March 2020. Now that we are getting back into the swing of things, hopefully I can correct that!

What do you do to alleviate jet lag? 

Sleeping on the plane definitely helps since I’m less of a zombie when I arrive. I also typically try to schedule flights such that I can arrive in the morning – that way if I can survive through the day, I’ll be fine the next day. 

Was there a business trip you have taken that went particularly badly? What happened?

We had one trip where after a long day of meetings, etc., we got back to the rental car to find that it had been towed. By the time we tracked down and recovered it, it was late, the rain was bucketing down, and traffic had more or less come to a standstill. We finally managed to make our way to the hotel but after waiting in a long line at check-in, discovered that we were at the wrong hotel. It felt like a very long day!

Your best business travel tip for readers of ACS Industry Matters?

Travel light. I bring the minimum along on any trip – it makes everything to do with traveling easier when you have less to worry about. You avoid all the issues around losing baggage when you keep it with you the whole time. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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