Making the most of 2020

Ian Gooden

As 2020 draws to a close, we’ll be sharing some of our personal stories from 2020. Its been a tough year for most of us and yet there have also been some great success stories. To start the series, we’ve asked our Executive Chairman, Ian Gooden, for his highlights of the year.

We headed into 2020 having successfully navigated our way through some pretty major business changes – not least Sarah Chiumento’s retirement in the summer of 2019. With a refreshed Board and some great business results behind us, we had some very big plans.

Of course, Covid-19 changed everything. In the last two weeks in March, we made a herculean effort to ensure we protected our clients, their delegates, our staff, our suppliers and the business as we headed into a national lockdown. This was uncharted territory for all of us but we had one big advantage on our side.

Back in 2017 we closed the last of our office space. All our staff were seasoned hands at working from home. And we had all the technology we needed to make sure it was business as usual. We’d been championing remote delivery of services for even longer, so our coaches simply moved seamlessly to using video platforms like Zoom and Facetime. It really was “business as usual”.

The biggest change for me was not travelling. Pre-lockdown I seemed to spend my life driving or on trains. All that stopped. My suits went in the wardrobe and have stayed there. I’ve not worn one since January.

Being at home also meant I could focus more on my own well-being. I’m a rugby referee and coach so staying fit is important. However, finding the time to exercise properly in a hectic business diary was always a challenge. So, I set myself the goal of running 100K a month during lockdown. It was very eerie pounding deserted Lincolnshire lanes. Often, I’d not see a single person or car during a 5 or 10K run. What I discovered though was running gave me time to think. A hugely valuable commodity in a busy schedule.

By the time we hit July I had lost two stone in weight and knocked nearly eight minutes off my 5K time. And by September my weight had dropped by another stone. I can safely say I am fitter at 58 than I was at 38. The impact of that on my overall wellbeing has been significant. All my numbers from resting heart rate and VO2 Max have improved significantly. Far from a lost year, 2020 has been a year I’ve secured a big health bonus.

From a business point of view there have also been some positives. In October we received our latest Net Promoter Score results. I was thrilled with the +56 score. It is a real tribute to our Operations Team who are the face of the business to our clients and delegates.

Then in November came the big one. We were named Investors in People Employer of the Year 2020. In any year that would be a big achievement. With all the added pressures and complexities of managing our way through a pandemic, it was a career-defining moment.

As we head into the last few weeks of 2020 my mind is already shifting to life beyond Covid-19. Our parent company, Aldeburgh Holdings, is looking to make further acquisitions in 2021 and a big part of my year will be spent looking for suitable target businesses. Chiumento will also be launching two additional outplacement channels to its existing portfolio and investing in the next generation of Chiumento24. Exciting times ahead.

‘Making the most of 2020’ was written by Ian Gooden, Executive Chairman, Chiumento Ltd. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.

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