Day in the Life: Stephan Müller, e-commerce chief

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0500: Once again, the alarm was set in vain. My six-week-old son does the job perfectly. After a quick shower I enjoy his company for a while.

0615: I nip out to the bakery and make breakfast for my wife. Then it's time to drive to my office in Frankfurt. During the half-hour journey I try to relax and prepare myself for the day ahead.

0700: At the office I spend half-an-hour going through e-mails which have piled up overnight from our branches abroad. It takes another half-hour to read the financial headlines and news about e-commerce business on the internet.

0800: From now on my entire morning is usually spent in meetings. First, a conference with the IT staff. We talk over a variety of technical problems. Today, DM2 million in payments and transactions has not been routed through the system properly. Luckily the bug is found and fixed quickly.

0900: An hour later, I hurry into the next meeting - budget discussions! After all the financial problems at a lot of internet companies recently, our finance guys have become nervous.

1000: A quick meeting with Accenture, the business consultants, is squeezed in to give me an idea of what our competitors are up to and how much they are spending on expanding their e-commerce business. Accenture also offers advice on how we should proceed with our own online ventures. These are very varied, ranging from financial services to selling stationery and other products.

1030: Next appointment - this time with T-Online, Deutsche Telekom's internet subsidiary. We plan to offer our customers an &quotall-inclusive care-free internet package&quot in conjunction with T-Online. They will develop the technology, while we will sell the package and market it.

1200: At least once a day I meet with various employees. Because of our strict employee evaluation system, it is important to give them feedback on a regular basis.

1245: No more meetings until early afternoon. I grab a sandwich from round the corner. Before hurrying back to my office to check all my new e-mails, I spend some time downstairs where the people at our bank deal directly with customers. They have interesting stories to tell about what the customers are saying. This gives me a clearer idea of the shortcomings in our services which I can try to tackle in one of the meetings tomorrow morning.

1330: The e-mails are just the usual stuff. Apparently, one of our customers overdrew his account by DM500,000. But it turns out to be only a clerical error. The other emails are questions from the regional branches and status reports from our offices abroad.

1500: Time for our customer focus meeting. Today representatives from eight of our medium-sized customers are discussing the T-Online package. We need to get an idea of exactly what they are looking for. Once the discussion gets going, I let them talk amongst themselves. Once or twice, I have to step into the role of mediator since the discussion threatens to get out of hand. I take notes, for use in my private brainstorming session tonight. The meeting is quite fruitful, and tomorrow I can give useful feedback to the T-Online people.

1730: I am through with all my appointments. I try not to have any meetings after 6:00 p.m., so that I can use the next two hours or so to deal with the stuff that has piled up during the day, or simply work on ideas I've had. And inevitably there are some e-mails awaiting answers again. Around 8:00 p.m., I usually leave the office. Very often I have to attend some official cocktail party or dinner and do not get home until late in the evening. Today, however, I have no more duties and I am looking forward to a quiet evening at home with my family.