Bev White

My name is Bev White and I am the CEO of Harvey Nash Group, a $1bn global technology recruitment, IT solutions and leadership services group with 36 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia

Guest Blog – Rob Mallaband – How do you wish to remember 2020?

Guest Blog – Rob Mallaband - How do you wish to remember 2020?

I think 2020 will be a year that we will all look back with reflection and mixed emotions. The horrific effects of COVID-19 have taken their toll on everybody in many ways: how we live our lives, the interaction with our family, friends and colleagues and our jobs.  Some of us have been fortunate to take a few steps away from the main drag and do some ‘what if’ analysis and some dreaming!

On 16th March 2020, the UK was instructed to move into lockdown. None of us really knew what this meant, and we quickly moved from the unknown to a new way of living - we all embraced the situation in different ways.  

As a company, Crimson, like elsewhere in the Harvey Nash Group, made our people our top priority. We sent gifts, arranged virtual coffee mornings, arranged a fortnightly company Microsoft Teams meeting, arranged a company tournament named ‘The Board Game of Thrones’, arranged a virtual pub night out and I took the decision to write a daily update where the first was entitled ‘Day 1, Week 1’!  

I followed this pattern for 100 days and wrote about everything and anything. My family appeared many times, my dog Freddie and new puppy Barnie became celebrities, and of course we kept people in tune of what was happening.

When I reached day 100, my daughter suggested I take the initiative on tour and pass the baton around the Crimson team.  There were no rules or format as each person wrote a daily update for the next 105 days.  It became therapeutic and creative, with people choosing to apply their stamp on how they wanted to communicate to their colleagues.  

We were welcomed into people’s homes and introduced to their family and pets, we understood how home working had influenced people’s lives and what a new ‘typical’ day looked like.

Following the ‘on tour’ I now write a weekly update where the last one was entitled ‘Week 47 – Is Caroline still in the virtual bar?’, for those who have ventured into vTogether, I am sure you may guess how that one played out!

There was another angle to the year 2020 and it reminded me a lot of 2009.

The date is Monday 5th January 2009, and I was driving to Wales with my business partner Mike, it was our annual few days away following the Christmas break and ahead of the new year.  We had made this a tradition and it helped us to map out the year ahead in often a cold, wet and miserable town called Tywyn.  

This year was different, I had returned from Australia the day before following a family holiday and to explore the opportunity of opening an office in Sydney.  The trip started with the uncertainty of the credit crunch, and quickly moved to me writing a business plan on Bondi beach on News Years Day with a rather thick head!

As we drove to Wales, we discussed the plan and before we reached the Welsh border - we agreed it was the right plan for the uncertain market that lay ahead. We quickly moved our attention to the next phase, ‘what do we want to be famous for when we come through the other side?’.

We spent 2009 and 2010 executing the plan and building a Microsoft partner business. We mapped out a vision and we implemented the plan with unbelievable results.

Forward fast ten years and I find myself again in a ‘perfect storm’. Our people are our prime focus and our greatest asset, but here was our chance to plan and again pose the question ‘what do we want 2020 to be famous for?’.  

We were in the middle of our 3-year investment plan and we were starting to look at extending our proposition around data; we accelerated the discovery phase and focused on the proposition, this was soft launched in the autumn of 2020 and we are now maturing the model with pleasing results.  

We have since revised our go to market strategy and invested time in our messaging and supporting material, as well as mapped out our assets and accelerators for our industry sectors.

The question I have been asked is whether we would have achieved this outcome without the influence of COVID-19?  My answer is simple - I know we would not have achieved ‘managed’ Microsoft Partner status if it had not been for the ‘credit crunch’ of 2009!

I appreciate we are not through the difficult stage of COVID-19 and we are all still feeling the effects of lockdown, but my learning is that people will always be at the top of our agenda.

We must do all we can to support our colleagues, but we also must focus on what we can influence and be mindful of the things we cannot, this provides focus.

2020 for me has brought about many emotions and I feel as a team we have approached the challenge in the best way we can, I also feel it will be a year where we have embraced, empathy, innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion!

What is your 2020 legacy?

Rob Mallaband.

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