Normally, at the beginning of the year, I would wish everyone a ‘Happy New Year’, but it feels somewhat unorthodox given the year we have just had. I don’t think anyone could have predicted what 2020 would be like.
Without wishing to go over too much old ground, 2020 has probably been one of the most turbulent years for businesses and organisations all over the world. For a small not-for-profit organisation and-dare I say it, slightly old fashioned professional body like the PMI, the effect of COVID-19 has forced us to become more modern. In 2019, the Board of PMI signed off our 2020 Corporate Plan. Within it was a target for PMI to eventually become ‘digital by default’; a slightly daunting prospect at first given the amount of paper and archiving we had accumulated over the years. So far, I feel we have demonstrated that it can be done.
As an organisation our main priorities during the pandemic were to ensure that our members continued to receive their benefits and be provided for; that our many students would still have the opportunity to sit the examinations that they had studied tirelessly for; and to continue working successfully with our partners.
Our members are paramount. Given that all of our face-to-face events had unfortunately been cancelled due to the pandemic, the team created a 13-week webinar programme for members to join online, along with amending our CPD requirements, as well as producing communication videos to ensure that all of our members were provided for. The Professional Associations Research Network (PARN) were in fact referring other professional bodies to us here at PMI to seek advice on how we handled the crisis.
Prior to the pandemic detailed plans were already in full flow to move our examinations onto a secure digital platform, but the team worked phenomenally hard to get this done in a much smaller period of time. There are undoubtedly matters that still need ironing out but the team, along with the assistance of the Lifelong Learning Committee, are continuing to ensure that all of our learners are provided with the best possible level of service to be able to continue their learning & development.
As well as produce our webinar programme to not only service our members but also our partners, a COVID-19 report was written with great success, generating hundreds of downloads. We are hugely appreciative to all of our partners involved. Our Commercial Development team has worked incredibly hard to continue providing the offerings to our partners, admittedly not in the usual way of providing award winning events, but in other online forums.
So, what is the new norm? I don’t think anyone can answer this question just yet, but, if I could, I think I would answer in one word. Flexibility. We have all proven to ourselves that for those who can work from home, they can do so rather well. I have always encouraged my staff to work from home, whether one needs to attend a medical appointment, or be available to accept a delivery, I believe staff should have that flexibility. Before the pandemic I think people looked at ‘working from home’ as abnormal. Staff were expected to be seen working in an office 5 days a week; arrive on time and leave on time. Some might see this as a rather draconian approach. It goes without saying that staff’s safety was our first priority at the beginning of the pandemic, but we also had to ensure that they all had the ability to work from home effectively, as without them, we could not have continued providing our services. All PMI staff adapted very quickly and have in fact been compared to superheroes by our outgoing President, Lesley Carline. I second that as Chief Executive and could not be more proud of how the staff of PMI have all coped so well with this level of change. Earlier this year a ‘working from home’ survey was conducted. 100% of staff answered that they wouldn’t want to return to working in the office 5 days per week. I think now more and more people can argue that staff really can work from anywhere, and the ‘old fashioned’ way of working has changed.
What does 2021 hold for us, I hear you ask? There is no doubt that uncertainty will be with us for some time, however, I come back to that word: flexibility. Businesses, as well as the PMI, must continue to be flexible as forward planning has gone completely out of the window. However, the Board of PMI has just signed off our 2021 Corporate Plan. This includes some exciting initiatives for all of our members and stakeholders, for example the PMI Academy, Regional and International development and much more. Some of these initiatives were in our original 2020 Corporate Plan, but the pandemic forced us to be more flexible and to focus on key priorities. Our main goals are to continue providing the vital insight needed within the industry; to service our members and learners indefinitely; to introduce new avenues of the PMI but ultimately, we strive to be your partner of choice.
I very much look forward to continuing our journey with you all. Let’s make 2021 a year NOT to forget!
Last update: 26 February 2021