The Taxi Drivers You Want to Avoid

Mark Leigh: ‘The best experiences are the ones that are a surprise—whether it’s a seat or room upgrade.’

Mark Leigh is president of Asia-Pacific operations at electronics company Jabra. The Singapore-based Briton spoke to the Journal about speeding taxi drivers, turning tech gadgets into a mobile office, and never leaving home without a portable travel steamer.

How often are you up in the air?

My job requires me to travel very frequently, so I’d say that I’m up in the air for at least two weeks each month. My trips are usually in the Asia-Pacific region, but I also fly up regularly to our company’s headquarters in Denmark.

Favorite hotel?

This is a tough one. Right now, the Hyatt chain is my favorite. Their service is top-notch. We use them frequently for our events.

Favorite airline?

Singapore Airlines,

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without a doubt. I’m a lifetime Solitaire PPS member, a privilege from all my frequent flying—they really know how to take care of you. Singapore Airlines is also very reliable, and always flies on time, which is something I don’t take for granted.

Best airline seats?

Most people prefer bulkhead seats, but I don’t enjoy looking at a wall for hours, so any second-row aisle seats are ideal for me.

Singapore’s Changi airport
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Favorite airport?

Singapore’s Changi. It’s just easy to navigate and is always efficient. Amsterdam’s Schiphol is also one of my favorites.

Preferred luggage?

I use a Delsey; it’s lightweight and made with carbon fiber.

Packing strategies?

After over 20 years of traveling, [I find] packing for a trip is pretty much about going through the motions. You think about your calendar and the various functions that you need to attend, and pack accordingly. I recently bought a travel steamer from ION Orchard—it’s a really nifty tool that saves you from showing up at your morning meeting in a crumpled suit. I’ve come to realize that not all hotels provide an overnight pressing service, so this really helps.

Which travel apps do you use?

FlightTrack is a must, as is Lync for voice and video conferencing.

What’s your best travel advice?

Make sure that you can bring your office with you—ensure that you are equipped with the right tools. I bring a set of Bluetooth-enabled speakers and a wireless hands-free set that becomes my mobile conference room. People tend to overlook the simplest things, and I’ve found these devices make the biggest difference when traveling for work.

How do you stay fit while traveling?

I don’t have much time to head to the gym while traveling, but I do try to watch my diet and eat lightly when I can.

Best travel experience?

The best experiences are the ones that are a surprise—whether it’s a seat or room upgrade. I was recently at the Mulia Resort in Bali for a company conference. The Mulia did not disappoint. It was a great trip for everyone.

Worst travel experience?

It would have to be being stuck in a traffic jam during the Mumbai floods in 2005. I was in a traffic jam for seven hours in a taxi to the airport, with a driver who had been driving for a 22-hour stretch. The water [level] had risen up to the passenger seat in the taxi, and we were running on a [nearly] empty fuel tank. I eventually managed to get back to my hotel, where I had to wait for four days before I could leave the country. It was certainly not an experience I’d like to repeat.

What’s left on the bucket list?

I’ve always wanted to stay in an ice hotel—perhaps in Iceland or Norway.

Favorite city?

Paris, London and Florence are beautiful cities that I never get tired of. But for a buzz, Asian cities are the best—whether it’s Hong Kong, Bangkok or Singapore.

Favorite restaurant/bar?

The Moon Bar at the top of the Banyan Tree in Bangkok has a great view. I also love London’s Radio Rooftop Bar. You can also never go wrong with Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong for a good night out. In Singapore, I enjoy going to the Prime Society on Dempsey Hill—nothing beats a great steak and the lovely ambience.

Which city has the best taxis?

If you get a London cab driver, you can always be sure that he will take you on the best route available. One thing that I hate—in any country—is that one taxi driver who believes you’re a talent spotter for Formula One. That’s really the last thing I want after a long flight, and I always have to tell the driver to slow down.

—Edited from an interview by Mark Lean

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