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‘Resiliency is adapting’: Campbell Institute Forum panel addresses lessons and adjustments amid COVID-19

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Before traveling to the 2022 NSC Safety Congress & Expo, Brian Callahan used an analogy with his family to explain why he couldn’t stay to watch a Sunday football game.

“I’m going to the Super Bowl of safety,” the president and chief operating officer of ISN Software told them. “Well, it’s like a Super Bowl, but everybody roots for the same team.”

In that spirit, Callahan on Monday joined Evaristo Leonardi, COO, international business at the AES Corp., during the Campbell Institute Forum, which focused on collaboration and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alongside moderator Brian Fielkow, president of Brian Fielkow & Associates, both speakers highlighted multiple lessons learned from the pandemic’s impact on occupational safety. The importance of adjusting to challenges was near the top of the list.

“There’s no such thing as one single plan, one single solution for everyone,” Leonardi said. “So resiliency is adapting to the circumstances.”

Callahan discussed his experiences helping guide his employer through the pandemic. He recalled that executives first channeled crisis mitigation strategies from when the H1N1 virus was a national concern in 2009. From there, company leaders began expanding its plan while listening to worker input, including trying different forms of virtual communication when in-person work was impractical.

Similarly, Leonardi said his employer at first feared how a greater regularity of remote work might affect productivity. Ultimately, however, “we had an incredible amount of productivity.”

Callahan advised employers to “lead from the heart” by better empathizing with workers’ individual needs and personal circumstances, which have often intersected during the pandemic as workers juggle job requirements with family obligations.

Leonardi called on attendees to speak up whenever they think company leadership may not be in sync with worker needs. Create a network and remain persistent.

Katherine Mendoza, director of the Campbell Institute, opened the forum by saluting the body’s 10-year anniversary. The Campbell Institute was launched in 2012 at the 100th NSC Safety Congress & Expo.

Mendoza said she was excited to “celebrate the success and growth and evolution of the institute” and thanked attendees “for helping us create change together.”

– Kevin Druley, reporting from San Diego