Georges is one of our Senior Associates from Dubai. He shares a glimpse into life with Partners in Performance in our growing team in the Middle East, and how the team is keeping their spirits high and connecting with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic…
What has been the most meaningful moment in your career so far?
Since joining Partners in Performance, I have worked on engagements all across the Middle East and Europe. This is a testament to both the firm’s global nature as well as the priority it dedicates to personal development by staffing consultants based on their needs. I have also worked in multiple industries, from tourism and heritage, to oil and gas, and also mining. Throughout these engagements, I was able to see first-hand the impact the firm has on our clients. On my latest engagement, which was being delivered remotely considering the current circumstances, one of the client stakeholders repeatedly mentioned how pleased he was with our work and how he was looking forward to working with us in the future. Quite an achievement for a project on which the team did not get the chance to meet the client face-to-face. This experience would have counted as one of the most meaningful moments in my career with Partners in Performance to date.
How has life changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic? What does your new normal look like?
Usually as a consultant you are either traveling for an engagement or working on other priorities with the team, whether in the office or working from home. However, we all had to adapt to a new reality given recent events, so I have found myself having to work from home for the foreseeable future.
On a positive note, the absence of the need to commute and travel has provided me with more time to work on existing projects and pursue personal hobbies like catching up on my leisure reading and improving my Spanish. On the flip side, I have lost the opportunity to meet face-to-face with my colleagues to collaborate and work on engagements. Luckily for us though, the firm has invested in a variety of tech tools such as Microsoft Teams to facilitate teamwork and help us connect with each other.
How are you staying connected with your team under these new work arrangements?
Our team has done a fantastic job at keeping everyone connected and engaged. We have formal video calls during the week during which we discuss overall wellbeing and have the opportunity to share relevant news, concerns, or positive updates. Not letting distance stand in our way, we conducted our last Day in the Office (DITO) training virtually which included a tailored online version of Jeopardy to test our knowledge on consulting, our region, and of course, our firm. We hosted an online game night with the regional team, and also scheduled in several informal calls throughout the week to simply catch up and connect. Lastly, we also have a WhatsApp group where everyone can share tips, jokes, or even cooking recipes with each other.
How are you balancing life / work right now?
Working at home, I sometimes find it hard to disconnect and separate work from personal life. On top of that, many of the activities and commitments I enjoyed doing outside of work like boxing and salsa have also had to be replaced as we abide by social distancing restrictions.
Having said that, one method I am using to maintain a positive work-life balance is by convincing my brain into defining work and non-work times and spaces. I had seen this method explained by licenced psychologist, keynote speaker and author Guy Winch on a TED talk titled “How to turn off work thoughts during your free time”. One way of doing this is to ensure that you keep working from the same spot at home and leave other areas for leisure and relaxation. In my case, I have my workstation set up in one dedicated spot in my apartment where my laptop and other work items are located, and I only work in this one spot. At the end of the work day, I make the effort to switch off, change out of my work clothes and move to another area to exercise or relax in the living room while reading or watching TV. I make sure to never work from areas I labelled as ‘non-work’. As Guy Winch mentioned in his TED talk, “More and more of us are losing our physical boundary between work and home... when we lack a physical boundary between work and home, we have to create a psychological one.”
What is your favourite thing about life at Partners in Performance?
I am fascinated by the firm’s approach to working with the client and ensuring that the results we deliver are sustainable. On the engagements I have been involved in, I interacted very closely with clients not only to gain alignment and buy-in, but also to coach and train them to ensure they are able to use the tools and methodologies and continue to deliver results. Additionally, working within our Middle East region makes me feel part of a second family. We all show great care towards one another and our wellbeing. I consider many of my colleagues to be my friends and we frequently engage in activities together outside of work. For example, a few of us once rented out a boat in Fujairah and went on a fishing trip. It was a disappointing day in terms of results as we did not manage to catch any fish but very fruitful in terms of strengthening our friendship.
How has working at Partners in Performance helped you develop professionally in your role?
I have attended many regional and global trainings with the firm on topics like problem-solving and learning how to develop strong presentations, all essential in my role. The DITO trainings are often set up to allow everyone to interact together. There is a strong focus on building a culture around safety, which I find is inspiring and different to other firms.
Partners in Performance has also helped me expand my network within the firm through our annual Summer Camp, where the firm invites members from different regions together for a week filled with learning, networking and fun. One of the best trainings I had occurred in the most recent Summer Camp – we had a training session where we experienced working in a mine site using virtual reality! Of course, it was also a great chance to get to know my colleagues from Europe, CIS and Africa.
Lastly, the firm also offers an Apprentice programme where all our new joiners go on engagements and learn all about the company’s methodologies, approach and toolkits. Having gone through the Apprenticeship programme, I can tell you that it was a really good experience being able to learn on the job, at the same time getting to know our clients.
What are your top three tips for – keeping a positive mindset in these unprecedented times?
To ensure you maintain a positive mindset, my top tips are exercising, connecting with old friends, and practicing gratitude. Exercise has been proven to improve our mood and mental health, contributing to a more positive mindset. I also found that connecting with friends I have not spoken to for a while makes me feel more connected to the world and when reminded of the good times we had together, I start to feel happier and more positive. Lastly, practicing and expressing gratitude can help you see the good in your situation no matter how bad it is, and this can help improve your mindset.
It is also important to ensure you do your best to support the wider community. For example, when I frequently donate to charities around the world helping the less fortunate in terms of access to food or shelter, I inherently notice just how fortunate I am, and this automatically triggers a positive emotional response.