The bumps, the bruises, and the lessons learned
Let’s face it. No one expects to live through a global pandemic. And yet, here we are. Almost nine months into one of the worst international crises on record with no end in sight. For business leaders, this event has truly challenged the ability to assess, adapt, and act. Our CEO and founder, Raminder Singh, is no exception.
With the help of the CCS Management Team, Raminder has kept CCS Global Tech and its divisions on an even keel and moving forward despite all the hurdles the coronavirus has presented. Here’s a look at what Raminder faced, how he navigated the circumstances, and the takeaways that all of us can use going forward.
March 2020: The Hit
March. There really aren’t any words for March. As the coronavirus spread globally, panic and pandemonium ensued. The world stopped. No one knew what to do or how to respond.
From the beginning, Raminder says it was clear the coronavirus was “serious stuff” and was going to be a long-term issue. He says:
“[The coronavirus] attacked people on a personal side, meaning their families and loved ones, as well as on the business/work side. This two-pronged assault instigated extreme thinking. I knew to avoid this I needed to step back and look at each business segment in turn. How are we prepared for this extreme event? Would funding be there? Which projects were remote-friendly?”
Luckily, most divisions transitioned to remote work easily. The company’s Talent Development Program (TDP), however, did not.
TDP trains and supports upcoming IT professionals. It includes a three-month, in-person, on-site training experience followed by six months on-site as a contractor with company clients. Lockdown knocked this model on its head and left Raminder and the Management team facing hard questions:
“No office meant no training. So, what do we do with those who were in the middle of their training? How do we place them? Can we place them? How are we going to take this division forward?”
Many companies, including those where TDP candidates were placed, succumbed to the pandemic-induced extreme thinking and came to a complete stop. Across sectors, contracts were canceled or postponed. Raminder says, “It was shocking to see business come to a full stop so quickly.” It’s disquieting to watch a program falter. However, Raminder knew this dire situation would also present opportunities and that’s where he turned his attention.
COVID Lesson #1:
Extreme thinking is fear-based and unproductive. Better to stop, assess the situation, and determine what you can and can’t control. A crisis is a time for questions and fact-finding with which to inform your planning going forward.
Spring: The Subsequent Bumps and Bruises
Raminder is very forthright about how things were in March, April, and May:
“Spring was scary. Everyone stopped and no one knew how the pandemic was going to play out. Business stagnated. The media gave conflicting accounts of everything. Everyone was confused. Nothing was moving.”
Instead of succumbing to the immobility and panic, Raminder and the Management Team realized “we [had] to get on with life.” They put their focus and energy on what they could affect: the company itself.
The spring months became a time of examination and evaluation. They realigned the company’s structure, its focus, and its processes. They created goals focused on stabilizing and strengthening the new fully remote landscape. They enhanced the online onboarding system. They improved the company’s online culture and communication venues. They began online trainings.
They also started hiring. Raminder explains:
“So we realigned ourselves to be a fully remote company. That gave us stability. From there, we had options. We saw a lot of talent being let go. We decided to double down and acquire those folks knowing business would pick up when everyone came out of lockdown and started to function again. It was an opportunity to strengthen our talent pool.”
COVID Lesson #2:
There are opportunities in hard situations. The key is to look for them. This can be as basic as re-examining your workflow and processes to search for possible improvements and redundancies. It’s also an opportunity to slow down, look ahead, and position yourself for what’s coming.
Summer: Adapting to the New Normal
Summer saw Raminder’s predictions come true: The world figured out how to go back to work and get on with things, albeit slowly and primarily remotely.
Our new normal includes a lot of technology. Organizations need help with cloud computing, Azure, security, and the remote environment. CCS Global Tech and its divisions – even TDP – are seeing business return. We’ve been able to supply professionals safely and effectively. Our training programs are adapting to the online environment and discovering how to provide high-quality learning experiences remotely. It’s a work-in-progress, but it’s happening. Our workforce is becoming more comfortable with ideation, iteration, and experimentation.
COVID Lesson #3:
Adapting to the new business landscape is a process. Prepare as best you can and then keep iterating. You’re laying the groundwork for big growth.
Fall: Looking Forward
The coronavirus is going to be with us for a while. The news and information around it continue to be erratic and confusing. A reliable vaccine is going to take time to create. However, Raminder is optimistic:
“I think things will be back to normal eventually. It’ll be slow, but ultimately, we’ll go back to normal.”
So, what does that mean for business owners? The tech industry? People in general?
Overall, it means we’re all going to be okay. The world will be forever changed by this event, normal will be different, but we’ll all be okay.
For CCS Global Tech and its divisions, it means Raminder and the Management Team will continue to evaluate risks and mitigate their effects. It means they’ll continue to scrutinize inefficiencies and bottlenecks and find solid solutions for them. It means they’ll continue strengthening communication and building trust between teams.
Raminder feels it also “presents room for a lot more opportunities.” For instance, he’s already looking at how remote work impacts operating costs. He’s seeing the need for less office space and the ability to try co-oping the workspace. “It’s a more efficient use of the space and gives people the flexibility to work where they’re most productive.”
COVID Lesson #4:
Look beyond the immediate environment. What can you incorporate into your organization long-term that advances your mission, your bottom line, and/or your talent retention? Opportunities are there!
Raminder is very calm while talking about the past months. It belies his acute awareness of what lies ahead, namely the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Yet another event that can have seismic repercussions to the business landscape. When asked how he’s preparing for the next three months, he gives the biggest COVID lesson yet:
“During uncertainty, you have to know what you have. Consolidate it. Stay focused. Hold onto your reserves and spend wisely.”
Stay safe, everyone. And best of luck going forward. We’re going to make it.
To our clients, peers, friends, and teammates, thank you for your ongoing support during this unusual year. We hope you and your families are well and safe. If there is any way that CCS Global Tech and its divisions can help you weather this storm, please contact us.