Last Updated: May 9, 2008: 6:04 AM EDT
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GE's road warrior, plugged-in worldwide

Charlene Begley, president and CEO, GE Industrial, Enterprise Solutions, rarely sets foot inside her office.

By Eugenia Levenson, writer-reporter

On the move: Begley, who reports directly to CEO Jeff Immelt, expects her new job will keep her flying nonstop for the next two years.
Reebok sneakers.
Travelpro rolling bag.
Bose noise-reduction headphones.

(Fortune Magazine) -- Running a business with more than 300 locations worldwide keeps Charlene Begley in perpetual motion. A company vet who led Plastics for two years before helping GE (GE, Fortune 500) (No. 6 on the 500) sell the unit last May, Begley has always had a packed travel schedule.

Now, as head of a new division that includes security and sensing-technology businesses, she rarely sets foot in her office in upstate New York. Instead, she spends most of her time visiting customers and employees in places as far-flung as Cape Town and So Paulo. We caught up with her in Charlottesville, Va., to talk travel.

1. Days on the road - Since August, I've been in the office nine days and on the road the rest of the time. I live on airplanes.

2. Key question - Many hotels don't open their fitness rooms in time to let you work out, shower, and get ready for a breakfast meeting. So before booking I always ask what time the workout room opens in the morning.

3. Flight tip - I try hard not to fly into or out of New York on Fridays or Mondays. I'll go out of Boston or Washington Dulles before New York because there are always delays.

4. Always with me - My Reebok sneakers and my running gear. I love running outside. But I'm typically staying in cities, and certain places I go are dangerous, so I tend to run on a treadmill.

5. Best bag - I use a Travelpro rolling bag that expands. My luggage goes through a lot of abuse, and this bag has been pretty sturdy. It's lasted me for five years so far, which is amazing.

6. Favorite way to fly - My preference is for speed. There are airlines that are amazing, like Emirates, British Airways (BAIRY), and Singapore Airlines (SPOAF), but I hardly ever fly them because they're not always the shortest, fastest way to go.

7. Scenic route - I just came back from Brazil, where I took a flight from Rio de Janeiro to So Paulo. You see the most beautiful landscapes - plush green with the ocean crashing against the rocks. Brazil is just spectacular.

8. Air time - I have a lot of routines when I fly. For example, I eat before getting on the plane so I never have to wait for the meal. And I put on my Bose noise-reduction headphones for the whole plane ride. When there's less noise it's easier to recover.

9. Hometown advantage - Right now I live in the Berkshires and drive to Albany to get to work. I love the outdoors, and the Berkshires is a beautiful spot that's undiscovered by many. It's quaint, with wonderful restaurants and shops. And it's not far from New York or Boston.

10. Off the clock - I can't do everything, and I have to choose between my kids and sightseeing. So I sacrifice sightseeing. Someday, when I retire, I'll go back to all those great spots and do it right.  To top of page

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