Looking back at my first year as CEO, in a pandemic…
A little over a year ago I took over as CEO at 702 Communications. My first three months were a whirlwind. I made some strategic hires to expand our wholesale division, I was guiding the team through a wireless system conversion, I was working to complete 702’s acquisition of Computer Wrench, traveling around to introduce myself and foster business relationships. There were ups and downs, sure, but the days just flew by. 2020 was going to be a big growth year, pushing the sales staff, pushing the company to provide the best customer service possible, and then COVID hit.
As hospitals began to fill and mandatory shutdowns began to manifest, my priorities shifted. Our management meetings went from discussions about sales goals and project deadlines to making sure we could get our employees working remotely and closing the office to the public.
COVID guidelines were crafted for employee and customer interaction. I took part in weekly calls with the General Managers and CEOs of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance. We shared our best-practices and the information on each other’s communities. We committed to not suspend customers for non-payment and reached out to the local schools to see if we could help connect students in need.
Discussions with my sales team went from pushing sales goals to reaching out to customers and seeing what we could do. If they needed more bandwidth to support remote workers, we were willing to help. If they were reducing staff or closing the doors, we did what we could to make service adjustments that made sense. We tried to do our part.
As the months dragged on, we found ways to try to buoy spirits in the community. We sponsored virtual concerts with Livewire, we worked with the Arts Partnership on Chalkfest and The Fence Project. We also celebrated some milestones internally. Six employees at 702 have celebrated or will soon celebrate 20 years with the company. Fargo Inc just did a story and photoshoot for us on that. Read more here.
All in all, I was very fortunate. I am very fortunate. I’m working in an industry that’s essential for remote work and distance learning. I’m also very fortunate that we’re financially stable and didn’t need to furlough employees or reduce staff because of COVID.
So, as I look back at my first year as CEO, I didn’t accomplish everything I intended, but I am proud of the work we did.
I wish you all health and happiness in the holiday season.