Professionalism – What to wear on a POA flight?

iStock_000060971620_SmallWhen it comes to attire, many might say the world of pharmaceutical sales is rather conservative.  Compared to other industries, no matter how progressive we believe we are, the traditions of professionalism still persist today.  I have an opinion on the matter of professionalism and what to wear on a POA flight, but let’s let the industry and the professionals that embody it speak for themselves.  I took a poll of various professionals within the industry working for different companies in different positions.  I polled, dermatological reps, traditional pharma reps, managers, and more.  I asked them the simple question; “On a POA flight….wear whatever you want, it doesn’t matter, or corporate casual”?  Some of the professionals gave me just a straight answer and others elaborated on why they chose what they chose.

The results were overwhelmingly in the favor of corporate casual with 94% of those polled choosing corporate casual and the other 6% not choosing any of the choices.  Many of those polled wanted to elaborate….here is what they said:

“I would wear business casual on the way to and casual on the way home.  Unless you have a carry on, you don’t want to risk it.  I worked with a guy who lost his bag on a flight one time for a meeting and came to training the next day in shorts, a golf shirt, and flip-flops.  He looked like an idiot.”

“I think you need to know your company’s or region’s culture and play it on the safer side…I’ve always been a big fan of being comfortable on a flight and wearing whatever I want especially if you’re traveling long distances, checking into your hotel and preparing for a week of work.  But if I said it straight up doesn’t matter, then I would be lying, because it does matter if you are in front of all of your colleagues, manager, RD, or possibly a VP, and are extremely underdressed.”

“Going to the meeting you have to be in business casual…because what if your luggage gets lost or flight is delayed and you have to go right to a general session…it happens.    Going home from a POA meeting after a long week I think it’s fine to be casual and comfortable as long as it’s appropriate.”

“Corporate casual…you never know who is going to be on the flight!”

“Dress the part….corporate casual”

So as you can see from some of the quotes above, many believe in the traditional thought of looking the part so to speak and always making sure that when it comes to attire you are prepared to run into anyone who is in a position of power.  Many made sure to mention the idea of if your luggage gets lost on the way to the POA meeting that you are already dressed with business casual attire and therefore prepared for the meeting.  Some, as you can read above, were firmly in belief that on the way home you may be more comfortable.

To play both sides of the fence here is one quote from a person polled that did not chose corporate casual;

“I don’t know, I say keep it clean casual.  Corporate casual isn’t the end of the world, but travel in my opinion should be comfortable….within in reason of course.”

Even those that chose something other than corporate casual still had a difficult time flat out saying that “it doesn’t matter”…or…”wear whatever you want”.  The industry has spoken.  If there was any ambiguity in your mind at all….perhaps it is clear now!!