Project Management

Fortune CEOI Roundtable: How COVID-19 Propelled Business Breakthroughs

20 Jan 2022
Joe Cahill
When COVID-19 halted in-person meetings and business travel, organizations were forced to face stark new challenges, including go-to business models. Joe Cahill, Chief Customer Officer, participated in the 2021 Fortune CEO Initiative Annual Meeting to discuss how PMI adapted to the new reality, all while gaining insights on how other businesses not only adjusted—but excelled.

close up of black keyboard with red light shining through the keysImage by Daniel Josef on Unsplash

Before COVID-19, PMI exams were taken through traditional on-site testing. Though online proctored exams had always been planned for our future, we likely wouldn’t have pivoted quite so quickly if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. By partnering with Pearson VUE’s OnVue online proctored testing software, we encouraged continued career advancement, all while making safety a top priority—and, 2020 was one of our best participation years ever.  

But how did other companies adapt in the wake of unexpected global disruption? 

In November, I had the privilege of participating in the 2021 Fortune CEO Initiative Annual Meeting, where I explained how PMI rapidly accelerated our digital transformation plans amid COVID-19. During the discussion, other panelists shared how their businesses embraced digital transformation, seemingly at a moment’s notice.  

Skillsoft, for example, also shifted in-person business to online meetings with its executive coaching services, and when travel and business consultations were unthinkable for Otis Worldwide, they decided to launch an online shopping platform—for entire elevators and lifts. 

Businesses like Skillsoft and Otis Worldwide that continued investing in the future at the height of the COVID-19 crisis tended to perform considerably better than companies that didn’t. In fact, Accenture discovered organizations that doubled down on technology investments during the pandemic saw significant growth advantages—nearly 5x greater revenue—than “Laggard” ones.  

Still, investment is one thing, and innovation is another. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Technology alone is not enough,” because behind every forward-thinking idea is brilliant human brainpower. So how can organizations stay innovative and create a culture of innovation? Here are three tips organizations can put into practice: 

  1. Future-proof teams: Hire individuals who are willing to learn and adapt.  
  2. Put data in the driver’s seat: Use customer data to inform innovation, rather than relying on assumptions.  
  3. Build the infrastructure: Encourage innovation through brainstorming sessions and recognize individuals who bring new ideas forward.  

As the world continues to cautiously re-open and build a path forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are re-imagining ways of working, value propositions and collaboration as we know it. And, if organizations can break extraordinary barriers despite COVID-19, just imagine the post-pandemic milestones we can achieve. 

Joe Cahill Joe Cahill

As Chief Customer Officer (CCO), Joe Cahill is responsible for all PMI’s Global Customer Group. He oversees the Global Customer Engagement Team, the Global Customer Experience Team and PMI’s eight geographic regions. Joe previously held the positions of COO, Interim CEO and SVP of Finance and Administration in his time with PMI.