Updated: Mar 31, 2021
My team is participating in the Philips Excellence Competition( PEC), an annual showcase across our company to highlight best practice across different teams. Besides being an incredible moment to highlight our work, it has also been a time of reflection for me about making my first leap into a full time role in Philips.
2020 was no doubt rough. Besides the emotional strain of being in a global health pandemic, and for black people being in a racial one, people were losing jobs and I remember feeling like I could be one of them.
You see, I had just started my current role as a Customer Engagement Manager on the Global Experience Marketing Team in Philips when the pandemic hit. The job entailed hosting customers in the Customer Experience Center(CEC) in Best, a physical space where they can experience Philips solutions, at some point of their decision journey with us. With the basis of the job being face to face interaction, COVID shut us down completely.
I remember falling into panic for a few days. First I was in deep anxiety about the pandemic including worrying about my family, in Zimbabwe. I barely had gotten the hang of the job anyway, and if my team would be downsized, being the new kid, I definitely entertained the thought that I would be the first to go. And with job insecurity for me, comes immigration problems.
But my manager was not going to have that. Forever innovative and inspirational, she pulled us all out of this funk and we rolled up our sleeves as a team and got to work. With physical presence cancelled, we knew the answer was some sort of virtual experience but how? Build 3D website experiences? Have pre recorded videos? Live broadcast? Invest in augmented reality? Our central question became,
“How do we replicate the in-person experience, of touching and feeling a Philips solution in a virtual environment?”
The creative and entrepreneur in me was triggered. Starting out with researching best practices across other industries and talking to our customers, within a month we were testing out options in front of audiences and getting feedback on them.We settled on producing live broadcasted experiences first, and with each iteration we gained more confidence and got smoother Additionally, the whole team had to build new capabilities, including, new ways of working around booking our experiences, on camera presenting and adapting our story telling to the shorter attention spans people have online. As an extension of our team, we also became a content creation hub for congresses and trade shows. Since those could not happen as well, the CEC became a canvas for building online experiences for major congresses such as ECR and RSNA, as well as running demos during the events. Lastly, we built an incredible customer facing platform of Philips experiences, with tons of story lines, demos and webinars. You can find it on philips.com/cec.
The impact was palpable across our organization. Through our new live broadcasting capabilities, we facilitated many deals, with higher C suite engagement than in the physical environment. Additionally, we expanded our reach, getting customers and colleagues from as far as New Zealand and Saudi Arabia into the CEC, who previously had to travel long distances to experience our space.
I look back at 2020 and I think so much could have gone wrong. but due to the innovative and agile mindset of my team, we survived. I also learnt a lot about myself in the process.
My biggest discovery was the ingredients that I thrive on for a job. I do well in environments where I am my creative, entrepreneurial and connecting with people. This discovery helped me understand better my past struggles in other types of roles. I started my Philips journey in product marketing and up to my third assignment, project management remained the skill I struggled with the most. I can certainly do it. I can organize and manage details but it costs me a lot of energy. My favorite moments of that job, turns out was when I spent time connecting with sales people understanding what they needed to succeed. According to one of my mentors, knowing yourself is one of the best weapons you could have in your career arsenal, and I am glad to have this clarity from my 2020 experiences.
Additionally, my passion for healthcare as the only industry I will always ply my talent in was strengthened in 2020. We cannot afford to not have good leadership when people’s lives are at stake. And with people of color disproportionately affected in this pandemic, we simply cannot afford to not have people like me at the table to bring diverse knowledge, experience and expertise to how healthcare access works.
Whether we win PEC or not, I am super proud of my team and what we have accomplished. What's next for us? Well we know virtual is here to stay, so we are preparing to produce hybrid experiences for when stuff opens up. The CEC in Best is also one of many in the making, as we activate spaces in America, China, India and Singapore over the next few years. To put it more simply, in 2020 we managed to swim, and in the words of my manager, in 2021, WHY NOT FLY?
Visit philips.com/cec to see some of our work.