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By Nina K. Yudell
We are living in a very unusual time. Extraordinary really. These are the words that I hear and read most often to describe this period. For those of us who are fortunate enough to be working during this period, most have faced challenges and experienced significant changes in our day-to-day activities, whether we are working at home or at our normal workplaces. It has been a time of higher anxiety and stress for many. It is a time when effective leadership and a strong organizational culture have been critical for success. I reflect on this as I am very grateful to be a partner at a firm, Brown Advisory—an investment and strategic advisory firm that has both. This has allowed us to execute well over the past several months. In this extraordinary time, I am struck by how important it is to adequately plan ahead assuming both best and worst case scenarios. Management decisions made years ago have been so important and helpful. Our “client first” culture and our culture of teamwork and supporting each other has served us well. Our culture embraces open communication, listening and learning as we know that we don’t have all of the answers. Another important part of our culture is to serve those in greater need in our community, and we are encouraged to find ways to do so in this environment.
Our leadership was early in recognizing that some of our business practices needed to change to keep us and our clients and others safe through the coronavirus pandemic. We canceled events including our biennial Navigating Our World (NOW) conference, which has an attendance of over 750. In its place, we have launched a series of weekly podcasts with topics relevant to this time (you can also listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher). We are an essential business, therefore our offices could have remained open but our leadership chose to have near 100% of colleagues working remotely and we have been doing so successfully. Throughout this WFH period, our leadership communicated with clients weekly and encouraged all of us who are client facing to reach out to each and every client. The firm was prepared for this moment, having made investments in technology and in hiring great people. So that we can best serve our clients and support our colleagues, the firm has provided everyone with anything they have needed to work at home, such as laptops, monitors and printers. Our Human Resources team has provided support through good benefits and special programs at this time, such as weekly wellness webinars. Years ago, we established Colleague Resource Groups (CRG) and in this time of a heightened awareness of racial injustice and inequality, our “In Living Color” CRG led a discussion for our African American colleagues to have the opportunity to honestly share their thoughts and feelings.
These are just a few examples. I share my own professional experience to illustrate the importance of leadership and culture. All the actions that we took, decisions that were made over preceding years prepared us for this moment in time, however long it may be.
Be well and stay safe. ■
About this Month's Featured Sponsor
Brown Advisory Partner • Nina K. Yudell
Nina K. Yudell is a partner and portfolio manager at Brown Advisory with over 30 years of investment experience. She serves as Vice Chair of the University of Baltimore Foundation and Chair of the UBF Investment Committee. Nina is a member of the Howard County Estate Planning Council as well as a member of the Business Women’s Network of Howard County and serves on the Scholarship Committee of the BWN Scholarship Foundation.
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