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How Avanade is caring for me while I’m far from home during COVID-19

  • Posted on June 23, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

In the 6+ years I’ve been working in Avanade, I’m experiencing my most interesting working situation to date!

Months before COVID-19 blew up, my working day arrangements were familiar to me. I was at my home base country, Singapore. I physically go to work at the client site, and I was finishing up my project assignment. Although I felt sentimental wrapping up that short but memorable stint, I needed to start preparing for my next engagement.

Off I flew to my next project assignment in Abu Dhabi. It was a mixture of excitement and anxiety – working in a foreign city, with a multi-cultural team, for a new client, with totally new ways of working in a different part of the world. For me, it’s my largest project assignment to date. And it’s a different type of project and role than I usually work on. With the support and encouragement from my teammates, I eventually got my bearings and we were collectively marching towards an aggressive deadline for a particular go-live. Little did we know we would all have to pivot.

COVID-19 struck. I know I’m not the only one surprised by how COVID-19 directly affected our program. From marching toward our go-live, the whole program team suddenly had to pivot to support the rapid rollout of Microsoft Teams within a two-week period. Our client has around 60,000 users spread across their different companies. I’ve never seen a whole program called to pivot from one go-live goal to another within a matter of days. With just days of preparation, we needed to rapidly learn skills outside of our daily job function so that we could support users and enable them to be able to work remotely.

Alongside project matters, in the middle of the hectic support period, we needed to concurrently manage our personal logistics and affairs where rapid decision making must be made. Countries were closing their borders. Flights were being cancelled. Is it safe to travel – should I stay put or go home? I saw my teammates rapidly booking flights as immediately as the next day. Are our families and loved ones safe back home?

And that is why I am so grateful and proud of the people who have been with me in those challenges. Amid all those challenges, I saw leadership, camaraderie and care at every level.

For work, the whole program team quickly rallied behind the new, big ask. I saw my teammates owning and driving their respective pieces. Despite the scramble, we adapted and overcame. Things were far from smooth, but people remained positive and focused on continuous improvement. My teammates didn’t let unfamiliar asks hinder them from offering help and going the extra mile for the client. We also looked out for each other. There were days during the support period where it was so hectic that it was even difficult to go for bathroom breaks or eat lunch, but teammates would organize to buy food.

For personal logistics and affairs, project leadership has been very approachable in providing guidance. Avanade leadership in the project took it upon themselves to track and ensure we were OK – especially those of us who cannot fly back to our home country due to regulations. Since the timeline remains uncertain as to when we can fly back for repatriation, Avanade – HR, leadership, and other teams – swiftly took action to ensure that our living conditions are comfortable for an extended duration. We have weekly check-ins with HR, and they never fail to ask how they can better our situation. Avanade Leadership has also called in to see if we are safe and well. I deeply appreciate all these efforts because it offsets my load. Knowing Avanade is helping me behind the scenes has allowed me to focus on project work.

In the corporate world, it is so refreshing and heart-warming to see an employer give attention and care to their employees the way Avanade did for me. I feel that Avanade sees me as a person, not just merely a body count that gets the job done. I am deeply grateful. Having received such care, as part of the Avanade team, I feel inspired to pay it forward in finding my own ways in contributing to Avanade’s culture of care, confidence and inspiration in the team, the organization and the workplace.

Pam Greenstein

How incredible! Thanks Celeste and team for all you're doing for Avanade and our clients. Stay safe!

July 3, 2020

marie-claire latour

Agree, Celeste thxs for sharing your story. Stay safe &; well and hope you are able to be home soon.

July 2, 2020

Ari Nadin

Legend! Thanks so much for helping me get through the time, Celeste. It was a lot easier with some good teammates around :)

July 1, 2020

Gosia Plesniak Twitter Orange Icon@Gosia

Great story! Have safe journey back home.

July 1, 2020

Kiley Surma

What an inspiring story, Celeste - I hope you're able to return home safely sometime soon! 

June 29, 2020

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