"A Reflection on Leading in the Zoom World" by Claire Boston
When I took on the role as Consulting Club President in February 2020, COVID-19 was not yet a concern in the US. I had no idea that all of the club events, recruiting activities, and interview prep would have to be switched from in person at McColl to virtual over Zoom. Instead, I was thinking about how excited I was to greet the 1Ys at our career club kick-off in Koury Auditorium in August. I couldn’t wait to shake their hands and tell them how we were going to help them reach their goals of landing a consulting or strategy internship.
Fast forward to fall 2020 and Kenan-Flagler has gone completely virtual. There would be no in person classes, review sessions, club events or social events. While disappointing, this created a new challenge for the Consulting Club board of giving the 1Ys a valuable experience over zoom. We worked incredibly hard to host all normal club events like the 1Y and 2Y Case-Off, Deloitte Case Competition, Career Treks, and even started a Diversity in Consulting Speaker Series. I learned a lot about leading in a virtual world and would like to share a few lessons from my experience:
· Things will almost never go exactly as you plan, so being able to adapt and improvise to changes is very important as a leader. Not only did we need to adapt to a virtual world, but we had to improvise during zoom events when links didn’t work, internet connection was unstable, etc.
· Don’t get flustered when plans change or things go wrong! Getting flustered only delays solutions.
· Lean on your board members and trust them to get the job done. It can be hard to trust that things are getting done when you can’t see progress in person, but if you’ve chosen the right board members then you can count on them to get the work done!
· The mute button makes conversation difficult. Be ok with awkward silences while you wait for people to answer, give everyone a time on the agenda to speak if they would like to, and don’t be afraid to ask everyone to unmute if possible.
· Zoom events give us more access to firms and practitioners! We were able to connect with more firms and office locations during career treks since our sessions were virtual.
· It is hard to get a sense of how others are feeling, and you can’t stop people in the halls to ask, so make sure to ask for feedback often!
· Provide people with opportunities to chat casually through breakout rooms or other platforms. We all desperately miss being social!
· Be kind to yourself. This is a tough role and you’re doing your best.
While I would have rather been in person this fall, I appreciate the lessons learned from leading in this virtual world. I look forward to continuing to grow in this position, and am excited to share my experiences with the next Consulting Club President!