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Working Through COVID-19: A CEO’s Perspective

May 20, 2020, 12:54 PM by WIP Team
Written by: Lane Kathryn Hickey-Wiggins, President and CEO, Douglass Screen Printers, Inc. dba DPRINT

The position of a young business leader facing the unprecedented challenge of continuing operation of a small business through a pandemic is incredibly trying, but it presents a unique opportunity as a fast-track for leadership growth.

Strategic thinking has been a key component throughout this entire process. It has been very important to take early steps to stay ahead of a potential problem. For instance, I contacted the necessary authorities to ensure our business was deemed “essential” by the federal government prior to our state issuing a “shelter at home” order. This position presented unique concerns in that if we were going to stay open, we needed to be able to appropriately address our employees’ well-being and safety and timely communicate the steps we were taking with our client base. We addressed the issue of employee health and safety by adopting SGIA’s Sanitation Guide and following CDC guidelines to increase cleaning measures and further train employees on general hygiene practices to prevent the spread. I have made it a priority to maintain regular, transparent communication with our employees and customers to alleviate any potential concerns.

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Employee well-being has continued to be of the utmost concern and accordingly, my uninterrupted focus. Without their health and vitality intact, our company would certainly cease effective operation. Where possible, administrative staff were given the option to work from home. On-site staff were given the option to wear masks and social distancing protocols were enacted. I am extremely grateful to my staff for being so flexible and willing to continue working while many other businesses either adopted a complete work from home policy or worse, temporarily or permanently closed.

All that to say, I can confidently confirm that being a CEO during this time is not “business as usual.” It has forced me to consider avenues that didn’t previously exist in my realm of possible scenarios or disasters that our company could or would be forced to face. It has also required me to revisit prior contingency plans to test their efficacy. Lastly, it has taught me that the true test of leadership acumen rests in the unknown.

About the Author 
Lane Kathryn Hickey-Wiggins is the President and CEO at Douglass Screen Printers, Inc. dba DPRINT, a screen and digital printing company based in Lakeland, Florida.
 

Lane Kathryn Hickey Wiggins