Oliver Heckmann, Google
As vice president of engineering for Google's Shopping and Travel teams, Oliver Heckmann oversees all products at Google.com/travel. At The Phocuswright Conference, he'll take part in a Tech Talk.
In a series of interviews with executives participating at the event in Florida in November, PhocusWire finds out what makes them tick...
What one mistake do you witness others making more than anything else?
My old boss gave me this bit of wisdom: “Remember, you meet everybody twice.” I have found this to be one of the most useful pieces of advice in both professional and personal circles.
For example, when arguing or fighting over a decision, it is typically not worth winning at all costs, especially over a short-term issue that may not matter just a week later. Instead, always play the long game and value your relationships with those around you.
What are the gaps in your experience and knowledge of the industry?
It’s usually more fun to think about your next vacation rather than your next business trip. So at times, I’ve been more focused on consumer experiences and how we connect advertisers to leisure travelers.
That said, the industry is always changing and I’m excited to learn more about the corporate travel space, which is why it’s great to attend conferences like Phocuswright and engage more deeply with our partners.
What was your childhood aspiration?
Anything but a mathematician! My teachers and parents would always tell me this is what I would become, so I guess I had to prove them wrong.
What do you do to alleviate stress?
If I have more than 30 minutes, I’ll try and visit the gym. If it’s a shorter window, I’ll pick up my camera, walk around wherever I may be, and take five pictures within a hundred feet. It’s always amazing to see what you can find when you slow down and explore your surroundings.
Who uses your product in ways that you never expected?
My wife (see the last question, below).
What's your morning routine?
I get up at 5:50 a.m. every day, weekdays and weekends, long before my family wakes up. The first thing I do is have a glass of water and a black Columbian coffee, while reading about 10 pages of a book or magazine. It could be anything: fiction, non-fiction, work-related or a hobby. And I love to read on paper, especially as I’m spending the rest of the day in front of a screen.
What's your one travel hack everyone should know?
For the things I use on a daily basis, I have two of each, one for home and one for travel. Two of the exact same shaver, the exact same toothbrush, the same chargers - even two of the same Chromebook (although admittedly that’s overdoing it a bit). The travel set is always kept in my silver Rimowa carry-on so when I’m packing, all I need to worry about is the clothes I need for my destination, nothing else.
What's your must-have tech gadget?
I could not survive without my Fitbit watch or my big Anker battery pack. My Anker keeps the Fitbit and all my other devices charged, and I use the Fitbit to track my sleep and make sure I’m getting enough rest while I’m on the road.
How do you book your travel?
For leisure travel, I usually sit next to my wife and watch her use our products, like Flights or Hotel Search, while I take notes (trust me, she’s used to it by now). Sometimes I’ll bang my head against the wall if she skips over or doesn’t like the features I’m most proud of, but it’s always a humbling exercise, and one that provides valuable insights.