January 14, 2021
Chairman & CEO Jim Umpleby recently sat down for a virtual chat with Mike Osenga from Diesel Progress to talk about his typical workday in this remote working environment.
“Honestly, I spend most of my days doing what I’m doing with you right now, looking at a screen and having these kinds of conversations.
I had set a goal for myself to spend time with the top thousand leaders in the early weeks of the pandemic, just answering questions and talking about our strategy and talking about how we’re going to get through this.
It’s amazing. I meet virtually with people that I often wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet with, or we would only see each other once a year, maybe every two years, because they were literally all over the world. So, I could sit in front of my computer and do Q and A’s, and we can look at each other.
I can start off in the morning talking to people in Europe and then North America in the afternoon, and in the evening talking to people in Asia.
There are some productivity enhancements in all that, that I think will stick, that should stick, frankly.
One of the things that I’ve been pleased with is the willingness of our customers to spend time virtually as well. I mean, typically part of my job is to fly around the world, and here was one of our largest customers that wanted to do that virtually. But in this environment, it just seemed very natural because we’ve all gotten used to doing business in this way.
I think it’s a mixed bag. I think there’s an advantage in terms of productivity and being able to meet with people with all over the world in a very short period of time without travel.
I think it’s easier for existing relationships, if we have an existing relationship with a customer, a dealer, or an employee. If it’s a new relationship, and maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I think for new customers and employees, it is important to come to an office to learn about our culture, to learn about our company, to learn about the way we deal with each other and to reinforce those values. I think face-to-face has advantages. Hopefully, we will be able to take the best of both worlds.
There are cost-saving opportunities. We’re a culture where we fly people around the world and get in a big room and have a conversation. Some of that will still exist, but I think we can replace a lot of those with virtual meetings, especially for internal meetings. I just think that face-to-face is still going to be quite important.
The days are pretty intense. I told one of my daughters it has been kind of like finals week in college but lasting for months.”