2020 is a year we will always remember, with the same vividness of key personal and world events - where you were, how you felt, how you were affected. The interest will be in others’ stories. our experiences and perspectives are unique and very personal.
For me it began as 2019 ended - a frenetic calendar of early morning calls, late meetings, and quick catch ups – all wrapped up in energy and enthusiasm with colleagues and customers.
But it had ground to a halt by mid-March and, anticipating travel bans in Asia (where I was based), I made a personal decision to leave Singapore and work from the US for a few weeks, so as not to miss my daughter’s wedding.
But it was a bitter-sweet return to Chicago. My travel was incident free, but my daughter’s wedding had to be postponed indefinitely due to COVID gathering restrictions, and I soon joined many people across the US on full time leave without pay (LWOP).
It was disorienting, but as I look back over the past few months, I split it into three phases. The first being a maniacal need to fill my days – working out, multiple daily dog walks, writing letters, etc.
The second phase was all about self-reflection and self-improvement – books, podcasts, online courses, meditation, etc.
And the third phase was, unexpectedly, one of gratitude – a deep realization that amidst all this craziness and uncertainty, I had been given the gift of time and the ability with which to spend it however I choose – and so I lived life to the full (or as fully as COVID allowed) and engaged with colleagues, tuned into all employee calls, and realized that I was still playing a vital part in my company’s future.
And then the call back to work came.
A completely different job, based in the US, and a chance to put my learnings from LWOP into practice – and it was like jumping into a refreshingly cool swimming pool on a hot summer’s day.
It is still early days, and I am finding my feet, but I have been made to feel so welcome that the culture of inclusiveness and caring has made me feel even more optimistic about the possibilities.
I am already working with so many talented colleagues across the world, building a post-COVID value proposition for our customers – many of whom are in the same new position as me. What more could I ask for … how fortunate am I?
We have already had our first socially distanced (of course) leadership team meeting and the focus and drive for our future was palpable.
Coming back in refreshed, I can see that my new colleagues have not been idle while I was away. And I see through new eyes how people and connections are the heart of any company and that a culture of personal caring and camaraderie is essential.
And I guess I am lucky. I get to do what I love, create value for our customers, work with my old customer team, and have a new corporate family.
The road ahead for many of us may still uncertain, and it will most likely be long. But teamwork, as always, is the recipe for success – and I am delighted to once again be one of the ingredients.