Image 2021 09 10 T02 21 05

Faith & Belief, Resilience & Agility - Pre or Post COVID-19?

Share this article

Today I’d like to take a trip back in time with you if I may, please. Let’s rewind the clocks some 12 years or so back to 2008 - Q4 to be precise. Barely a year into my new role with one of the leading Executive Search & Management Consulting Firms in the City of London after a successful 3 year stint previously with one of the largest Global Talent Consultancy group’s in it’s day and listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). I was really feeling on top of the world at this point (like a million Great British Pounds!) and surely NOTHING could go wrong for me at this point – surely not?

In 2005 – 2008 (yes, I know I’m taking it back even further now 😊) it really was the ‘boom time’ in the industry across Financial Services – (incl. Investment Banking), High Technology, New Media & Communications, Insurance & Re-Insurance, Oil & Gas to name but a few of the booming sectors. It sure was a great feeling to be noticed in the industry, not just within the Consulting Group I was working for across their various office locations across the globe but also within the wider global professional network and by competitor firms in the same or similar space and the 'Rec2Rec' (Recruitment to Recruitment Specialists) recruiters who were hunting passive talent for the industry and more specifically those 'hybrid' versatile 360 degree profiles who could generate significant revenues and build teams and divisions of profit centers and also explore new markets and constantly seeking innovative ways to disrupt the Talent Acquisition industry. That 'I'm a headhunter's call, that 'Exciting Career Opportunity' email or the Linked IN InMail starting with 'Your details have come highly recommended to me by a reputable profile in the industry' or the direct invitation from the MD or CEO of just another great company and awesome brand really was 'the best kind of feeling' – a kind of confirmation and affirmation that one was doing something right I guess. You’d rarely ever see a very successful recruitment consultant spend more that 2/3 years maximum with a company and not move on for a better salary, better incentives and better bonus structure and the prospective employers knew this and it was a risk well worth taking. And besides it could have been considered unwise not to explore your options fully and play it safe. As a prospective employer, if you could retain the best talent, manage and develop it whilst creating an environment that one could fit in seamlessly and would find it very difficult to leave then quite simply you were winning!

Now fast-forward to October 2008 and the UK Markets officially crashed followed swiftly by the collapse of the Global Markets. Some of the biggest players declared bankruptcy with many other reputable firms needing to be ‘rescued’ in dramatic fashion to survive in an era where the industry was in sharp decline with inflation rampant. We saw mass redundancies across the UK starting from London at the core and ultimately this sent shock-waves across the global markets and we began to see similar scenes of collapse across the world with some countries being more severely impacted than others. It was insane!!! All of this happening in such a short space of time. There was an eerie period of calm in our offices in the weeks leading up to this point, (and with numerous senior management and boardroom meetings) and after it became official it became even more apparent that things were heading in an even further downward spiral and very fast! Inevitably we would all be affected.

There I was, with no real contingency prior to ‘the crash’ and hoping that I could rescue my ‘huge’ pipeline that had just been stalling and ‘on hold’ status indefinitely and I couldn’t quite figure out why at the time of course but by this point it was becoming evidently clear what could have been the contributing factor(s). What were my options, my back up plans? – I really had to think fast now as the clock was ticking. There was little in the way of options I had to stick it out because I was deemed an ‘expensive’ resource and effectively surplus to requirements – in other words ‘they couldn’t afford to keep paying me the salary I was on with little or no business in sight’- I'd have to take a significant pay cut which didn't make much sense so the main option was to let me go and seek a new opportunity. Of course, my Director at the time said it in a much nicer, more diplomatic way than this (😊) as the orders rained in from the top, he had to deliver the news. As he did so (deliver the news) I could see various other Division Heads who had also been summoned for ‘coffee’ catch-ups in the various meeting rooms across the sales floor and as I sporadically gazed out of focus from my meeting and over and into the glass walls and doors of other meeting rooms the situation didn’t look great and neither was the general mood the best to be honest.   

So, there I was, now on garden leave effective immediately, with a fair severance compensation and a good few months’ salary along with the bonuses and commissions I had already accrued. Trying to figure out what was happening and the impact it was having on life and my responsibilities I had some time to engineer my next move and re-strategize and fast!

After a couple of months of reflection and enough time to recharge and get myself out there I began talking to potential suitors in the midst of a crisis. And there it was...I'd just figured it out! The opportunity was right there! Wasn't quite sure what it would look like in the future but I had the belief that I would make it a success. Taking me out of my comfort zone but doing what I loved to do best. Starting from scratch all over again, in a new market, building it from the ground up and generating from a standing start, growing teams and making an impact but most importantly of all to serve the people. I knew for certain that wherever I found myself that I would make it work - I simply had to! I was given the opportunity to enter a new market and build a new Technology & Commerce Division for the Group in Luxembourg at the time focused on Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France markets in parallel. There was a real niche opportunity to be explored here and I was certainly ready for a new challenge. It was the best move I could have made as it proved an absolute success and opened many doors to which I am grateful for to this day. Thankful for the belief the new organisation had in me and for the opportunity afforded me to do it all over again and in a new market that really had great potential, even at a time when the world was in a 'financial crisis'. This was my new window of opportunity, and I would grab it with both hands, and I did exactly that. I have always been an advocate of 'Networking is the Key' and even in a tough market your hard work and efforts are always recognized and you are noticed, even at the very highest levels within the industry.

So, what’s my point exactly in all of this. Well… Yes, we are in a testing times - not only with COVID-19 and the affect it’s having on literally everything and everywhere. Yes, we are on 24-hour lock down and have been for quite some time and it keeps getting extended and sure it is tough. Yes, there is talk of a RECESSION!! But it is not all doom and gloom. In actual fact the countries and companies that recover from this quickly stand to make massive gains for their respective economies. Isn’t there in fact an opportunity to be realized here? We are being tested more than ever before and perhaps being on curfew and isolating at home is not such a bad thing after all. It affords us the chance to plan, figure things out moving forward and also assess our individual strategies on how we will come out stronger on the other side and ultimately secure our futures. Just because there is a massive impact to our lives, our businesses and our economies doesn’t mean we must stop and give up. We must navigate through the unclear times ahead – let’s not get too consumed with the negative press and focus on the positives! If we can really look back retrospectively there are many pluses. It’s an ideal time for investors with deep pockets to dip in and invest into established well performing businesses and go into new market areas (after sufficient due diligence exercises of course) – are you ready to be noticed? It’s a great time for employers who are serious about growth to acquire key talent that has been affected by redundancies, salary cuts and the pandemic – are you ready to be noticed? It’s a great time for that new business/start-up to go live – are you ready to launch that great idea? There is absolutely everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.

I encourage you today to come out of your comfort zone and believe that you too can make a positive impact in this world? In our last major global recession of 2008 successful startups were founded (2007-2009) including Whatsapp, Uber, AirBnB, Cloudera, Github, Groupon, Instagram, Pinterest, Slack, Venmo, Dropbox and Glassdoor… I genuinely believe it is time for us all to rise up and get back to our best work! We all need to have the faith & belief and demonstrate the resilience & agility to tap outside of our comfort zones and power through the COVID-19 era and beyond. This is not the time to relax, to snooze, to lament and feel sorry for ourselves we have to keep on moving forward. Future generations are counting on us.

Related Blogs