Jason Prokop, Director of Field Service, and Alesia Magon, Sr. Manager Technical Support & Repair Center, both of global laboratory diagnostics firm DiaSorin, take a deep breath after the massive growth, major pivots, and immense perseverance of the last year to talk with Sarah about their lessons learned.
Sarah: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we’re going to take a moment and press pause to reflect back after the COVID sprint. While we certainly aren’t completely past the pandemic, we’ve reached a point where a lot of businesses are stopping to take a look at the lessons learned and the experiences they’ve gleaned over the last year.
Sarah: I’m joined today by Jason Prokop and Alesia Magon, both of DiaSorin. Jason and Alesia, welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.
Alesia: Thanks for having us.
Jason: Nice to be here. Thank you.
Sarah: Thank you for being here. Let’s start with some introductions. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about DiaSorin, your roles and anything you’d like to share about your backgrounds. Alesia, do you want to go first?
Alesia: Sure. My name is Alesia Magon as Sarah mentioned and I’m the senior manager of technical support in the repair center at DiaSorin. I’ll let Jason describe DiaSorin too in a little bit, in a global sense. But what I’m responsible for, is the 24/7 technical support team at DiaSorin Inc., across the U.S. and Canada, as well as the repair depot and internal service for equipment that we have here at the DiaSorin Inc. site.
Sarah: Excellent. Jason, can you tell us a little bit about DiaSorin and your role?
Jason: Yes, hi. I’m Jason Prokop. I’m the director of service and support here at DiaSorin Inc., out of Stillwater, Minnesota. So I’m responsible and our team’s responsible for the field service across the United States and we also have a subsidiary up in Canada. We directly manage our customers install base. We do preventative maintenance, repairs, et cetera.
Jason: So DiaSorin is a global manufacturer of immunodiagnostics products. We’re very multi-international company from that perspective and we really specialize in specialty diagnostics. That’s why if you see our brand, DiaSorin’s called the diagnostic specialist from that perspective. So we try to come out with niche and innovative products, that fit gaps in our customers’ needs from that perspective.
Sarah: Okay, great. So I wrote an article, I think it was, I believe it was late 2020 and it was my love letter to the service industry for surviving such a crazy year. Alesia, you actually reached out to me, after coming across that article and saying, “Hey, this really resonated and I think that we experienced a lot of this and we have some interesting stuff to share.” So here we are. So can you tell us a little bit, what about that article resonated most with you?
Alesia: Yeah, during the pandemic, there was a lot of news and media about the frontline workers, as there should have been. That’s completely appropriate. There was people, many, many industries and types of people that were serving the communities, that weren’t as readily noticed. When I read that article, I thought, “Absolutely, yes. This is the love letter to the people in this community and the community of the service industry, that are trying to help in their own retrospective ways for the customers that they serve.” And thinking specifically about the service industry at DiaSorin, I thought, “Yes, this is what we went through.” We had unbelievable challenges, but we had a lot of lessons where we learned about perseverance and we learned about how to stay strong and you wrote and touched on several of those points in the letters and I shared it on LinkedIn, as an effort of expressing the same level of gratitude back to the service department that we represent.
Sarah: Yeah, you make a really good point, which is there’s many layers and types of essential workers, right? So some that have experienced maybe different things first-hand, like those that are on the front lines in the healthcare industry, certainly I think deserve to be top of mind, when you think about what this last year has looked like. But to your point, there’s a lot of things that are a little bit more behind the scenes and a lot of people that have worked really hard to serve those front line workers and to make sure that those front line workers have been able to do everything that they needed to do for patients and for people that have been impacted most. I think that that’s a really, really good point.
Sarah: Now, DiaSorin being in the industry that you’re in, just so happened to be in a position to provide testing for COVID and therefore, had maybe a doubly crazy year last year, because you experienced some really intense growth. So Jason, can you tell us a little bit about sort of, what’s the core business? So what were you kind of up to before COVID hit? Then, what has that growth looked like? How did you sort of pivot and start providing that testing and what did that kind of mean in terms of the impact on the business?
Jason: Yeah, absolutely. So pre-COVID, it was typical business as usual for our organization. We had our national commercial meeting laid out at the end of February, where we were given our strategic objectives of an organization, with the products that we were going to come out with and launch and what our focus was going to be for 2020.
Jason: So we were all out on our plan. Everybody, all the information was cascaded to everybody in the commercial organization, as well as internally. Then come mid-March, things changed. Now we’re in the midst of the pandemic, so as an organization and being we’re very innovative from that perspective, we saw what was needed in the market place. So we quickly, our molecular colleagues out in California, came up with the PCR test for COVID. Then our global colleagues in Italy and internally here in Stillwater, came out with some amino acids, both for IgG and antigen testing. Now we have another IgG testing for post-vaccination from that aspect.
Jason: So then we saw much interest in the market place, because no vendor was ready with the supply to meet the demand from our customers. So then we quickly had to collaborate with all of our colleagues, both from a corporate level and in the U.S., as well as our instrument manufacturers, to look at what we could do with our supply to meet the demand of the public and I think from that, we saw the communication across our organizations really increase, even though we’re in this virtual setting from that perspective. We all had to communicate with one another on a daily basis, to make sure that we could get done what we needed to get done for the organization, as well as our communities and society from that perspective.
Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay. So can you give us kind of a base line to think about, like, “Okay, before COVID we were producing X units.” Like how much did that really boom the business and like a scale for what you had to adjust to.
Jason: Yeah, so I can talk a little bit from an instrument standpoint. So from a molecular standpoint, our install base more than doubled in 2020. From immuno standpoint, we had a couple months where we installed more instruments than we ever have in the history of the time that I’ve been with the organization and I’ve been here almost 27 years from that perspective. I think from an immuno side, in one month we installed over 50 instruments in May, I believe. Typically, we do maybe 10 a month. So it was all hands on deck, to get our customers the instrumentation and the testing they needed to keep up with their demand that they had.
Sarah: Yeah. I think it’s interesting that we think about, I think a lot of times when you talk about reacting to change, you think about in the negative sense, right? So like a lot of the organizations we’ve had conversations with around COVID, unfortunately what that looked like for them was, a significant reduction in business and some people had to make layoffs. So I think there’s this perception of the challenges of COVID being more on the side of that contraction. But I think it’s just interesting to point out that, challenges can also come in the form of opportunity, right?
Sarah: So I mean let’s set aside the fact that you’re all employees of DiaSorin and DiaSorin now has this opportunity to provide this testing in this time that it’s needed, which obviously has a growth impact on the business. But you’re all still human beings, dealing with the same fear and uncertainty and trepidation, in your own lives, right? But there’s also a real business aspect of like, “Oh my gosh. Like we have the chance to step in and do this thing and being able to do it.” Right, I think the recognition of the opportunity is one thing, but the ability to pull together quickly as a company and execute on that opportunity is a totally different thing.
Sarah: So I think kudos to you guys as an organization, for being able to see where you could have an impact and get to work, doing what needs to be done. You’re talking about a global company, right? So all of that communication. The logistics. Everything. We’ll talk a little bit about that. I think the other thing that’s interesting to look at here is, not only was it a really hard year in many ways, even though for you guys that meant really, really rapid growth. During that, you ended up with the strongest NPS score that you’ve had since you started measuring it. So how? Like, how did you do that and why do you think that is, or how do you think that was accomplished?
Jason: Man, I can speak to that. So, if I look at it from my perspective, it’s all about the great people that we have within our organization and I’m just not talking about all of our people in field service from that perspective, but that’s internally, across all of our organizations, everybody stepped up. Did we all have some anxiety? Absolutely! I think everybody in society had some anxiety about stuff.
Jason: But we also knew that we were doing something different and really making a difference from that perspective. So all the people across the organization really stepped up, both internally and in the field and I think our customers saw that. They saw us as an organization, that’s going to continue to provide excellent customer support, innovative products, to meet the needs that they have at this time, in a very quick and nimble fashion. Nobody ever stopped. I mean, whatever we asked people to do, of course everybody had a little anxiety about it and we were empathetic to that for sure, because we had the same type of anxiety. But they knew that they were doing the best they could for our organization, as well as the customers out there and all the people within the organization deserve all the credit and I think we had some of the best people of any organization that’s out there.
Alesia: Add to that, Sarah, that the industry was, we saw it in the media everywhere. “We need more testing.” People were saying, it was March, the middle of March, when the U.S. really became impacted by the pandemic and the number one response was, “More testing, more testing, more testing.” Our organization a lot of great people within this company, who are very innovative in the scientific industry, were able to come up with that solution and the customer saw that DiaSorin is a solution provider, right? So we’re able to come up with the plans.
Alesia: There was a lot of shortages of a lot of things, but testing was one of the things that was most talked about. When we did that and then you couple it with something that we were already providing before, but our employees dug deep and did it even better this year, was we really provided that customer support and that’s not just like the front line people who are talking to the customer, although they are extremely valuable to that, being the face of DiaSorin, it was the people who were staying late and making sure that everything was received on time. It was the people who were processing the orders when they didn’t necessarily have to. It was the people who were taking care of their children at home, while still working.
Alesia: I mean it was a lot of people who had to do things that they’ve never done before. But realizing the importance of why they did that and it was visible to our customers. We were able to say, when they were saying to us, I’m having to show up in the lab and to do the testing, we were saying, “And we’re side by side with you, we’re helping you.” They saw that.
Sarah: Yeah, yeah. We’re going to talk a little bit more about kind of the people part of this too and I think that’s the most important part. But before we do that, I want to talk about the logistics. The operations of things, right? So in this case, you’re talking about growth that was spawned by this crazy once in a lifetime, hopefully, event happening, right? But any company that experiences really, really rapid, big growth, struggles with how to scale and how to react quickly and nimbly to accommodate that.
Sarah: So I think there’s a message here, not just, “We grew so much because of COVID”, but just, “We experienced this rapid growth, period and here’s how we adjusted our business operations to be able to navigate that.” So can you guys talk a little bit about some of the areas of operations and how you sort of made some changes and pivots to be able to react and respond to the opportunity that was there?
Alesia: Yeah. Yeah, there was quite a few of those moments. So starting on day one, after we realized what was happening, was about the safety of our employees and what we were going to do. So what do we need to implement in order to get people safe? So for technical support, it meant, “You’re working from home immediately.” Well that meant that we had to set up their home offices and structure their home offices and ensure that there was business continuity with the phone lines and we had to ensure that there was no major disruptions. Other companies experienced that too. Our customers saw no difference on any of our phone support whatsoever. From a repair center perspective, where we had people who were having to work here at the office, in order to accommodate the needs, it was making sure they had the right PPE. That they had the right safety protocols.
Alesia: It was moving things around in the space and the lab, so that they were able to do that. It was making sure that we had procedures that they could all have their own laptops, where they were making sure that they were reading them without touching other people. It was making sure their badges were only allowing them into certain areas. There was a lot of things that we did, in order to say, “Okay, first is your safety and how are we going to do that?” From a field perspective, we did that as well and Jason can talk a little bit about the safety that we did for the field service employees.
Jason: Yeah and that was working very closely with our corporate colleagues, as well as internally with our health and safety teams and stuff like that. So you know how it went from a PPE perspective, where now everybody needs masks and there’s no masks available and you’re trying to find lab coats, you’re looking for gloves. We were looking to make sure that we could find alternate suppliers, than our base suppliers, to make sure that we had a backup, in case there was a need from that perspective. We had to work with our corporate colleagues up in Canada, because now we can’t ship stuff across the border, from that perspective, to get people PPE. So a lot of that comes back to that communications that we had within our teams.
Jason: So that really helped us get ready for that. Then even to keep up with demand, we had to hire some new head count, to make sure that we had enough people in place and then as Ally said, we had to look at social distancing between our confined space, to make sure that we could keep people a safe distance apart. Then we had to look at alternate shifts that people could work, as well. We had people in the field that had daycare needs. So they had decided, instead of working a normal eight to five, that they would work five to one PM, to be able to take good care of their customers still and that’s kind of the ownership that we see from our service department, as well as all of our departments internally, is that they really were owned the situation and were very accountable for everything that needed to happen, from that perspective.
Alesia: Yeah and a lot of those pivotal operational things, head count, shifts, safety, working with colleagues around the world, they seem at a glance, something that you could breeze over, but they all took several hours of conversation to figure out, “How are we going to do this and how are we-
Sarah: Yeah, at least, I would think. I mean and it’s easy to kind of look back. They say like rose colored glasses, or what have you. But the other thing is, in those very early stages, the circumstances were changing, almost every day, right? So it’s like you figure it out once and then you get going and then next week it’s different. Then you figure it out again and then, so it wasn’t like, we’ve kind of as this has gone on, we’ve fallen into a norm. It’s not the norm anyone wants, but we’ve kind of reached a more level state. But in the beginning, I mean it was different requirements and regulations and stipulations being introduced, really all the time. So I think the attention to detail and again, that level of cross-functional and regional communication, is really important in being able to make the changes you guys did and continuing refining them, as you went along. Any other things to note, in terms of logistically or operationally, how you guys kind of accommodated the growth?
Alesia: The main logistics points when it came to servicing, were really about working, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts, besides the staffing and how we had to manage that, was about the logistics of the parts. The logistics of the instrumentation. We really had to collaborate and communicate much differently to our corporate colleagues, in the way that it wasn’t that we were speaking about things differently, but we had to speak about things much more rapidly.
Alesia: So instead of weekly communications, it was daily communications, because guess what? “Today we need this, this, this, this.” They had to say, “Okay, now we need to gather up the people here that need to help with that. We need to talk to our suppliers. They need to talk to their suppliers. Who’s our alternate suppliers? Where are we getting it? How are they going to be imported? How are they going to be exported?” There were so many meetings where we just had to come up with those solutions very quickly and get the right stakeholders in place immediately and there wasn’t a person who didn’t try to respond to that need.
Alesia: But the logistics of service, although PPE was something that many organizations were contending to get at that time, it’s also a lot of those parts require special metaling, special people who are working on manufacturing lines that all were impacted by COVID, as well. When those production lines were shut down, because of a potential COVID case, which did happen multiple times. We had to think about, “Okay, now what are we going to do in the supply chain and how are we going to react?” That was something that we tried to make sure did not impact the customer. We were going to do everything that we could as an organization, to make that transparent to the customer.
Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
Jason: Yep and when we had such an increase in our install base, I mean we had to keep from an inventory standpoint, from spare parts, to be able to service our customers. Like you said, it changed in a month. We would have to manage our reorder points and everything and what our consumption is, pretty much on a weekly basis, to keep up with the growing install base that we were having. Because, we need to make sure we’re supporting them in the best possible way that we can. Did we have some challenges? Of course we did. I think every manufacturer that’s out there had some challenges from that perspective. But I think we, through a lot of dedication and commitment of our people, we made our way through it quite well.
Sarah: Yeah. So thinking about reacting to this. If you look at it from the business perspective, you’re talking about being more nimble, more flexible, more creative, more probably organized. All of the things. What would you each say is the biggest lesson, business-wise, that you’ve learned, that you think you’ll carry into the future? Like out of this experience, what’s the one thing that you think will kind of persist?
Alesia: For me, from a personal perspective, right? Yeah, so for me, I would say that I really just want to continue to look at employees’ individual situations with the business needs, because not just during COVID, but other times, people have various challenges and you have to be able to say, “Okay, how can we respectfully accommodate those needs and still meet what the objectives are of the organization?”
Alesia: So that’s one important thing. But retaining being nimble. It’s how to communicate with the other people. I know we’ve said that word multiple times, but really that was one of the things that came out is, we realized, “Okay, well forget the phone call. Now we’re going to do a video chat. Now I’m going to chat you all day long about little individual things, in order to get the end goal done.”
Alesia: When we’re being nimble with the solution, it’s, “Okay, so this is the way we’ve always done it. We’ve now proved to some people who have hesitation about that change, that we can do it and we can be just as effective and we can be just as efficient and let’s figure out a way to get through it.” I think a lot more open mindedness has definitely come out as a result of the COVID experience.
Sarah: Yeah. Jason, what would you add?
Jason: Mine would be similar from that perspective. As leaders within the organization and being we managed a lot of field based staff from that perspective, we want to make sure that they’re still engaged from that aspect and we used to have a lot of regional meetings. Go to customer sites and visit. Now we don’t have the opportunity to do that. So we’re continuing to look at ways that we can keep people engaged from that perspective, where it used to be, well we’ll have three regional meetings, we’ll go visit some customer sites.
Jason: Now we have to look at alternative ways that we can keep all of our employees engaged from that perspective. I think we’ve been okay at it, but we still have some work to do from that perspective, because it’s hard to be as engaged as you can be, when you’re talking through a video monitor or on the phone, from that aspect. I also think that from this and the virtual environment, when we look at jobs that can be done remote, via all the time, or at least provide our employees that flexibility when they have personal needs, to be able to work from home.
Jason: I think from an executive level and leadership level with the organization with the tremendous job that everybody did this year, there’s a lot more trust in that aspect, where the old school mentality is, if you’re not in the building and you didn’t punch your time card, I don’t really know what you’re doing. I think we actually saw our productivity probably increase with a lot of people working remotely. Probably a little less distractions. Probably a little less meetings being called, that you really didn’t need to go to, but people spent half a day in meetings, rather than utilizing that time in a value-added activity. So I think that’s going to help us in the long run, for sure.
Sarah: Yeah. Okay. So we talked about the fact that your people was the biggest key to being able to survive and thrive over the last year, in terms of the business. So you guys have mentioned I think, one of the important pieces, which is, there seems to be this pulling together, because everyone realized they were working toward a common good, right? So you guys were navigating this growth, because you were doing something that was having a direct impact on this life experience that we were all having. Alesia, talk a little bit about that kind of interconnectivity and how you think that played a role in peoples’ commitment to working harder, or doing whatever it takes to scale up the way you did and to meet the outcomes that you needed to for your customers.
Alesia: Yeah, for sure. There’s very few experiences that one goes through in a lifetime, or even generations, in which we all can say we experienced the same thing at the same time. That in itself, creates a connection between the people, right? So it’s not the weather that we’re talking about, because I mean we were all experiencing the weather that day, but we’re talking about how this is impacting us. But it’s impacting us in real ways, like real ways where, maybe you’ve not seen your grandmother for months and months at a time. Or your mother, you have to take care of. Or you’re nervous about the fact that your child didn’t have childcare, even people who had come with just very unique life experiences, that seemed heavier than normal, right?
Alesia: What made it different was that, a lot of people were having that same feeling, at the same time and it was a result of this. Like what it meant to be stuck in your home for several months. Or for me, I’m in the same building as a part of my team and I couldn’t even see them for some months. I had to talk to them virtually, even though we were in the same building. All of those sort of things, really impacted peoples’ moods, right? It should have. It did and we’re all human. But, one of the things that that meant was, “Okay, I’m having this challenge in my life and my colleague in Italy, in Germany, in the United Kingdom. My colleague who lives in Massachusetts or California, they were all kind of experiencing that.”
Alesia: So when I said, “Hey, today is a harder day for me”, or that employee said that, we were all saying that. Then, you still saw your colleague next to you, digging deep and trying hard and working the longer hours. Or taking a rest when they needed a rest and you’re covering for them, right? So somebody said, “You know what? I need this day off. I have bereavement, I have COVID leave.” When that happened, people said, “Okay, I will do more.” Because their turn was coming up, right? They kind of knew that. The people who didn’t have those turns, felt, I saw a lot of gratitude and feeling fortunate for that. I still see a lot of us feeling connected, “Oh, I see that Italy is closed down again, for instance, last week. That must have been really hard on Easter not to be able to see your family.” “Oh, yes that was.” Or for all the other holidays that were going on and people didn’t get to see their families. Then we were saying, “And when you can work, please come in and help.” And people did and they replied to that.
Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. Yeah, no. I think that makes sense. I think there’s definitely this sense of deeper human connection to one another, after the last year. I think that that’s the one thing that I hope out of all of this sticks, if anything. Because I think that we just view things differently and I think it makes us kinder to one another. I think it makes people, I’m not a patient person. So I’m not saying like, ultimately patient. But like a little bit more patient and just like I said, a little bit more considerate of what someone else is going through, knowing that we’re all going through something and I do hope that that is something that we cannot dismiss when we do get back to an increased sense of normal. Because it is really easy to be kind of wrapped in your own world and your own experiences. But I think this connection that we all have to one another, has been one of the biggest positives out of a really bad situation.
Sarah: So I love the fact that you guys had such a positive response from your teams, in terms of that banding together and working toward a common good. I know we talked before about how important empathy was in leadership over the last year. Can you guys maybe talk a little bit, or give an example about how you have employed empathy with your teams throughout this experience?
Jason: Yeah, I think that was probably one of the most important things that we did as an organization, from that perspective. Because, we’re all experiencing the exact same thing. First part is really listening to them, because we’re not all in the same situation. Everybody has personal challenges that they have to go through, from that perspective and we all understand that. We listened to all those situations from that aspect.
Jason: We had COVID situations that happened amongst our teams and what we kind of really found from that is, the team work amongst the regions and departments that we have within the organization, that’s where I really saw a positive change, because everybody was going through the same thing, “Okay, so and so has COVID. I can take his spot for a little bit. I’m going to go step in.” Without any hesitation.
Jason: So I think the biggest thing that we really had was listening. We all had anxiety about what was going on, specifically at the beginning of the pandemic. I think that anxiety has lessened a little bit, but everybody still has a little bit of that there for sure, but really just listening to what their needs are. “If you have to take time out, it’s okay. We’ll figure it out and everybody else will just step up from a team aspect to get done what needed to get done.”
Sarah: Alesia, what would you add?
Alesia: I mean empathy is a word that has gotten thrown around quite a lot, like you know, if you’re a servant leader, then you’re going to be empathetic to your employees. But what does that mean to really show empathy for one situation is, to be there other words that we described. Empathy for someone’s situation is also to say, “We can be creative in this situation and we can allow for that to happen.”
Alesia: For those reasons, there was huge kudos to the HR and executive team at DiaSorin, because they allowed the managers to express that creativity. It didn’t have to be broad streaking policies that, of course we have policies, that’s not the point. But they weren’t so broad streaking that it didn’t allow the manager to express empathy in a very specific way. I think that the other thing is that when you do show empathy for the employees, it’s a double empathy. They show empathy for you, because there were multiple days where I had bad days too. I was experiencing some hardships too. My employees said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect today. We’re not expecting more from you today.”
Alesia: That sort of thing, again, going back to the human side of what COVID left. I mean we were asked to be, like you said, sprinters of this experience. We were asked to sprint through months and months and months of work and we were asked to live during this time, as well. They were sometimes contradicting one another. But that empathy portion of it, how to express it. Not just how to listen and not only to just say, “I am empathetic”, but to be empathetic, was something that we were able to do this year and both from an employee side and from a managerial side.
Sarah: Yeah, I think we’ve had a number of conversations now on this podcast, about the reality of leading by example when it comes to vulnerability and normalizing conversations or making employees feel comfortable saying, “Hey, I’m struggling. I need a break.” Or, “I have this going on.” There’s certain people, certain situations, where it’s really hard for folks to speak up, or to feel comfortable, or not scared right, of, “Well what’s the reaction going to be? Should I just force my way through it, or what have you?” Related to COVID and not.
Sarah: I think that we’ve had some really good conversations about, if you can figure out appropriate ways as a leader, to show a little bit of your own humanity and be a little bit vulnerable with your teams, then it shows them that it’s okay to do the same thing. I think that that’s a good thing. The other thing I think Jason, you mentioned earlier. Some of the field technicians were able to switch their schedules from eight to five. To five to one, right?
Sarah: That might sound like a really small adjustment, but I mean for a lot of people, that probably made the difference of, their spouse not needing to leave their job, or their family not losing an income, or it’s just the amount of stress that that situation, in and of itself. People that have kids that couldn’t be in childcare or in school, that were both working. I mean we’ve also talked on here and have relayed a lot of statistics about the number of women that have had to leave the work force in the past year, because of that situation. So those are real tangible things that you can do, right? They’re concessions you can make, changes you can make, that don’t detract from that employee’s ability to do their job, but are just a different way than the norm, that allows them flexibility that probably was priceless to them. Do you know what I mean?
Sarah: To me, that is what empathy is really about, is taking action on what those needs are finding a way to have that common ground. I think that throughout this conversation, you guys have said again and again, like how much your employees cared and how much they wanted to pull together. That’s a two-way street, right? If DiaSorin wasn’t wanting to hear what those needs are and make adjustments and be creative, those people may not feel as passionate about their part in everything and vice versa. The more you saw them respond and the harder that they wanted to contribute, the more they wanted to contribute, the more you valued their contribution and thought, “Okay, we need to make this work. Like there has to be a way to achieve the right outcomes for everyone.”
Sarah: So I think that it’s a really good illustration of what needs to happen in that give and take with valuable employees and just thinking, Jason, to your point about not being stuck in the old way of doing things, or some of those thinkings that maybe, over the last year the company is kind of realizing, “Yeah, we felt that way, but it’s not proven to be accurate.” So yeah. I think those are really good examples and I think it’s a really cool story you guys have about how the company has come together, how the employees have contributed and how you’ve made it through hopefully, the hardest part of the sprint and now you can, whew, breathe a little bit at least. So just one last question, in terms of what are your final thoughts in terms of the biggest lesson you’ve learned? The biggest take away you have from this whole experience?
Alesia: The biggest take away that I have is that, there’s two things. One is, that we’re strong and capable and we’re able to do things. So I shared with you once before in a conversation. My son learned how to play piano virtually this entire year. I would have never thought that possible. Okay, so there’s a lot that we can do, that we never thought that we would be able to do and we walked away with it. Like don’t self-limit, right? Then the other piece of that is that, although the virtual is great and there’s a lot to it, the other piece that I’ve learned is how much I enjoy just being around people and what kind of energy that brings and can bring to an environment.
Alesia: So when there is more people around and in the office and you’re able to communicate with them face-to-face, or you’re able to have a meeting with somebody who’s experiencing something and you want to have that meeting face-to-face, there’s nothing that really replaces that. I don’t really want to replace that. So although I’m able to do things in a lot of different ways, I want to always be able to carve out time to do things face-to-face, when we can, so.
Sarah: Yeah, that makes sense. Jason, what about you?
Jason: Kind of what I learned from this is, if we have the right people in place across the organization, as Ally said, we can do it. When we had to ramp up, not only from a manufacturing and service and installation aspect, it almost sounded like it was impossible to get all the stuff done that we needed to get done. But then we really saw how good the people that we have within the organization and how committed and dedicated they were to the group. Which makes me very proud to work with the team that I work with, as well as everybody else across our entire organization from that aspect.
Jason: The other piece is kind of like Ally’s, is I really miss the face-to-face aspect. I’m okay with the virtual, but it’s just not the same. So, I can’t wait until we’re back to a little bit of normalcy, so I can get the field team together and we can have a regional meeting and have face-to-face discussions and continue to build our relationships from that perspective and hopefully sit at the bar and have a beer or something like that, as well, because we can really do a lot to build relationships in a face-to-face setting, that I truly miss. I miss going to our customer sites and seeing all of our colleagues in the field, as well as internationally. So I hope everything continues to whatever the new norm is, the quicker we get there, the better from that perspective.
Sarah: Yeah, I’m with you on the face-to-face. I work from home as my norm, so pre-COVID. But I always traveled a lot and so it’s still been a big adjustment, in terms of I really enjoy getting together with colleagues and people in the industry and going to events and all of that. I really miss it, so. I’m with you guys on that. I think there’s something to be said for a little bit more flexibility, or hybrid situations and certain things that really don’t need to always be done on a location, or in an office. But there’s just certain aspects of this that really are better in-person, so. Hopefully, I’d say I’m counting down until the next time I have a beer at a cocktail hour at an industry event. But I don’t know when that will be, so I can’t be counting. But I’m very much looking forward to it, so.
Sarah: Well thank you both so much for being here and sharing your story. I think it’s a very, very impressive feat that you guys have accomplished and it definitely sounds like there’s been some really good lessons that have come out of it and if we had to go through it, then that’s all we can ask. So thanks for coming on and sharing them with us.
Alesia: Thanks for having us.
Jason: Thank you.
Alesia: It’s been a great conversation.
Sarah: All right. Great. You can check out more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter, @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more by visiting IFS.com. As always, thank you for listening.