Driven to Discover


Responding to COVID-19: A CEO’s Perspective

3.6 minute read

May 21, 2020

Together, we’re facing a time of historic challenges and profound uncertainty. Businesses everywhere have seen deep disruptions and we’ve all witnessed societal changes we could not have imagined.

As a corporate CEO, it’s my responsibility to prepare for any number of scenarios that bracket the spectrum of risk—and COVID-19 has tested our preparation at Harris & Associates like no crisis before.

Like most of my fellow executives, I’ve faced extraordinary decisions over the past few months. That’s not a complaint—it comes with the territory. With the support and collaboration of my leadership team, we’ve made decisions based on one mitigating factor: what’s best for the health and wellbeing of our people, first and foremost, and our clients.

The Same, But Different

What does that mean in real world terms? For us, it starts with genuinely listening to our staff, hearing how they and their families have been impacted. We’re all experiencing the same crisis, but not the same circumstances. That’s important to remember.

For instance, some on our team are still working in the field overseeing important construction and engineering projects. These essential projects seek to further strengthen our communities and we’re proud to support that. While the execution was tricky, it was an easy decision to create and quickly deploy personal protective equipment (PPE) packets to help all of them, and others on the jobsite, stay safe.

Similarly, as most of our staff transitioned to remote work, we leveraged existing infrastructure and purchased new technology so staff could do so with greater efficiency and few aggravations. We even bought subscriptions to children’s online courses for those parents balancing telework and childcare. The magic course was a huge hit!

Staying Connected

Through it all, as part of our leadership mandate, frequent, honest communication has been the central focus of our response. We update the Harris intranet almost daily with COVID-19 information. To help combat feelings of isolation and lift our team spirit, we hold weekly company-wide virtual meetings. Here, we openly share concerns (including the pitfalls of working from home with pets and small children) and celebrate triumphs, including project wins, hitting our targets, and team members who go above and beyond for clients.

Speaking of which, Harris’ clients continue turning to us for advice and assistance with funding and executing their essential projects throughout this volatile period. Our company size gives us a tremendous advantage here. We’re nimble enough to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and large enough to deploy resources quickly.

We also utilize technology whenever possible to stay connected with clients and sustain project momentum. By creating a grant funding resource online, we’ve empowered municipal leaders to find COVID-19-related funding and other opportunities.

The common thread running through our client response is one that’s been there all along: an unwavering companywide commitment to building stronger communities.

Prioritizing Wellness Always Wins

No one can say for sure what the future holds, or even what’s waiting around the next corner. There is no crystal ball for any of this. But I can tell you that I’m looking forward to the future with hope and belief that these trials make us more resilient.

For other executives, I am proud to share what I’ve learned from my experience so far—leaders who make decisions based on what’s best for employees and clients will remain vital components of any COVID-19 response.

My Commitment

I believe where all of this is headed is a deep reset of priorities for all of society, and our industry as a crucial part of that reset. Given the backdrop of accelerating change associated with technology, climate change, and shifting demographics, we now have a global pandemic and economic recession. These forces will shape our communities and Harris wants to help craft a future that both recognizes these realities and leverages all available resources to develop a sustainable future. With this in mind, I am excited about the future. Going through this together and making something beautiful rise from these challenges is what is available to us. I hope we can support you in your quests. To that end, I am available for virtual coffee hours just for the sake of connecting and exploring your thoughts and concerns. You can reach me via email, phone or text.



Harris & Associates


AEC Industry