pell_103019_CELA1One of the hallmarks of great leaders is how they’re able to remain calm in a crisis, be visible and available to their teams and clearly communicate what the organization is doing to address the situation. They’re also able to genuinely connect with team members and listen to understand – not listen to respond – in times of uncertainty.

These have been just a few of the authentic leadership characteristics demonstrated by members of HMG Strategy’s CIO & CISO Executive Leadership Alliance (CELA) program in recent weeks. HMG’s CELA program is an exclusive peer-to-peer community of top-tier CIOs and CISOs from enterprise companies who meet regularly to brainstorm on common challenges and opportunities they face in their respective roles.

HMG Strategy hosted a recent CELA meeting where members shared some of the top challenges they’re facing in the current climate along with steps they’re taking to lead and rally their teams.

“They say that if you’re going through hell just keep on going,” says Scott Strickland, EVP & CIO at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Wyndham’s 40,000 employees have been working remotely since mid-March and Strickland and his team executed on a four-day plan to support its distributed employees and franchisees.

While Strickland and his team approached Wyndham’s virtual workforce support with a sense of urgency, he stressed that focusing on the needs and concerns of the company’s employees and franchisees came first. “We rallied together and ensured that employees were financially secure. Once people realize you’ve got their back, then they can focus on work,” says Strickland.

After Tom Peck and his team were able to get 18,000 Ingram Micro employees – nearly all of their non-warehouse workers -- up and running within a week, his focus has been on ensuring the business can continue to take orders and ship and distribute critical supplies – from safety and medical equipment to technology – around the globe.

“I’m spending a lot of my time videoing with people to ensure our employees stay engaged and informed” says Peck, EVP & Chief Information and Digital Officer for the world’s largest global wholesale provider of technology products and supply chain management services. “You have to be super clear on outcomes and deliverables and less focused on how people are spending their time.”

Making a Difference

As one of the largest transit systems in the U.S., NJ TRANSIT must keep its trains and buses moving on-time and efficiently. That responsibility takes on even greater weight during a pandemic. “Our essential services can’t stop because that bus or train may have a doctor or nurse onboard who has to get to a hospital,” says Lookman Fazal, Chief Information & Digital Officer for the agency.

Fazal carries that mindset over to the transit agency’s internal operations to encourage his team to do whatever is needed to make its systems available to each of its employees during a time of crisis. “When I joined the transit agency a year ago, I came from a mindset of `work from anywhere.’ Fortunately, we have put the pieces in place to support that model and we were ahead of the curve when the pandemic struck.”

Perrigo, a provider of store brand over-the-counter self-care products, is working hard to ensure the safety of its employees, who are working hard to provide essential products to customers and patients who need them.

“We’re taking a methodical approach to ensure that everything is being done consistently, just as you would in any crisis,” says Brian Marr, Vice President of Global Infrastructure for the company.

Marr and the executive team have also done an exceptional job of communicating across all levels of the organization to its 11,000 global employees, largely through the use of video collaboration tools. “We share what’s happening each day, what’s COVID-related and what is not, and being contextually connected,” he adds.

Deloitte’s leaders are focused on three core areas: “Our people, Deloitte clients, and our communities. During these unprecedented times, Deloitte remains focused on making an impact that matters across those areas,” says Quintin McGrath, Senior Managing Director, Technology Management & Enablement, Global Technology Services, Deloitte Global.

“For our people, we focus on well-being – do our people feel supported and connected? Are our people physically and mentally safe? We check in on our teams often and deliberately. For Deloitte clients, the focus remains on serving them and enabling client service teams to be effective even if they are virtual. For our communities, we are doing our part with our people all over the world contributing to their local communities and helping neighbors.”

While CIOs and technology executives face similar and different challenges in their respective industries, one constant rings true for everyone: the world has changed since mid-March.

“This is not working from home,” says Strickland. “This is working in the midst of a lockdown.”

To learn more about HMG Strategy’s CELA program, click here.

To read more about HMG Strategy’s coverage on Courageous Leadership in Times of Crisis, click here.

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