Frances (Ward) Honeycutt, B. S., 1998, Mass Communications, understands the phrase “global perspective” in a very unique way. In her position as Director of Global Business Development for POLARIS Laboratories® this TWU alumna sees the countries of the world through the eyes of the industries that make things run. Transportation, oil and gas, construction, power generation, industrial plants and marine industries are her customers. And yes, she is often the only female at the table or on site in these traditionally male industries. And yes, she works remotely from her home in Tulsa, OK.
As it turns out, Frances grew up living in and going to school in a number of countries in Europe. As an army brat we moved on average of every 18 months until I was 18 and attended TWU. I became accustomed to meeting new people because of the frequent moving. In total, she lived abroad for seven years in Germany, Wales, and London where Frances graduated from high school. I look back on those times now with a great deal of fondness because the bonds I made in the boarding school in London. Those are the greatest friendships I have today because we became each other’s “chosen family.”
Living abroad was the perfect training for the work that Frances does now. I immersed myself in the cultures and appreciated and respected the nuances that make us different. I couple the ability to communicate with anyone with the understanding that, while I am proud of my American heritage, I respect, understand and appreciate the perspective of other cultures from having lived abroad. I had no idea at the time that my upbringing was preparing me for my career, but I am so thankful that it did.
Between her junior and senior years in high school in London (where she attended a very small American high school for military dependents) she and her father toured colleges in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas but all of them felt enormous and overwhelming. Her cousin had graduated from TWU some years prior and so her father suggested that they stop by the campus. It felt much more manageable to me, like I was going to be a part of a family as opposed to another number just filling a seat in a course. So, when I got back to London, I applied and was accepted!
Frances remembers Charles Orbison, a TWU professor in a writing class that she took. Charlie made classes fun and memorable. It would have been around 1996 and I remember him telling us that one day we would be reading news papers on portable flat computers instead of reading the paper version…wow, he was so right! Even the forward thinking Professor Orbison might be amazed at how Frances employs technology today to accomplish her work. Read on…
Upon graduation from TWU Frances took a position, and soon excelled, with PR Newswire in Dallas and Tulsa, OK. Her next position as Director of Conference and Seminars with Noria gave her exposure to the world of industrial lubricants, experience in planning and marketing large conferences as well as marketing and selling to a global audience.
In 2010, Frances, living in Tulsa, became the Marketing Manager for a products company based in Wisconsin. She began to utilize technology to become a remote employee. This is still her work model as she directs business development for POLARIS and its laboratories with customers world-wide all from her home base. There are several reasons this model works well for her. The nature of my business requires that there are many days in a month when my business hours are vastly different from the corporate office in Indiana. My schedule needs to be fluid on some days in order to meet the needs of my customers and my team. I could potentially have meetings with a customer in Bangladesh at midnight one day, followed by a meeting with my team in Poland at 6:00am the next day. I use many different types of media to communicate with my team and my customers including the traditional e-mail and phone to virtual web meetings and Skype.
But working remotely takes commitment to overcome the isolation and remain committed to the job at hand. You have to create an actual working space in your home that is separate from the living space. I also get “dressed and ready” every day. I have always subscribed to the philosophy that you need the dress the part and working from home is no exception. The remote workplace model also requires the trust of the company. My company had to trust that I would do the job I had been tasked to do when I joined the organization and ultimately they trust that I will give them 100% every day.
But the position also requires extensive, world wide travel. Shown here in Guatemala, Frances is photographed with a plant Maintenance Manager (left photo) and two of her sales managers for Central America. They are standing on the platform at a plant of the third largest sugar producer in Latin American. In the second photo on the right Frances is visiting a company in Italy, learning about a new, real-time diagnostic tool that monitors the oil condition and its application for stationary equipment from the product’s creators.
When asked about being in a position most often held by men, Frances has a simple philosophy. I just try to be myself. My knowledge of the market and the industry should speak for itself. My gender (or theirs) should not be part of the equation. I’m the only woman in the world that does what I do — Global Business Development for a used oil analysis laboratory and I am very proud of my accomplishments.
TWU is very proud of Frances’ accomplishments, too, and wishes her many more successful years in her profession!