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Is Your Homework Done? – The Ampersand April 2021

April 1, 2021

By: Kate Spencer


March 16, 2020 was the first day that Pekarsky & Co. stayed home. Reflecting back one year and two weeks later, I… thoroughly enjoyed it…? Hot take. I know.


Before you completely write me off as insensitive, heartless and entirely out-to-lunch, allow me to explain myself.


First off, I’d like to make it clear that if there was a way for me to snap my fingers and make it all go away, I would. I have four elderly grandparents who I have spent the past year worrying about – figuring out where the line is between keeping in contact with them and keeping them safe has been stressful. I have a 96-year-old great aunt in a nursing home here in Calgary who has undoubtedly suffered from the isolation this past year has caused. I know people who have lost their jobs and people who have lost loved ones.


But since I couldn’t make it all go away, I embraced it. And honestly? It was easy. I always knew I was an introvert but this pandemic has really laid bare how much of an introvert I really am. Let’s put it this way, these days if I don’t absolutely have to leave my house – I won’t.


We’ve been inundated with extrovert vs. introvert content for years now and I’m sure it has reached its peak over the past year.  In short, the concept of extroversion and introversion comes down to where you pull your energy from. Extroverts gain energy from being around people. They come home from an event charged up, feeling great. Introverts, in comparison, leave any social interaction drained of energy and needing to recharge their batteries by being alone.


Pre-pandemic I wasn’t exactly the poster child for introverts. If you don’t know me all that well, this all may be a bit eyebrow-raising for you. Kate, an introvert? No way. You see I also love socializing – I’m loud, opinionated and always up for a good time. Work event? I’m there. Stampede party? Can’t wait. New restaurant? Let’s go. I’m the proverbial ‘yes man’ in most group settings and it often left me incredibly drained.


In a lot of ways lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were a welcome reprieve for my inner introvert – she thrived. I work well from home, mostly due to the fact that I live alone which I recognize is a privilege. Even in the ‘before times’ the idea of a roommate felt like the purest form of torture to me.


Mostly, 2020 allowed me to develop a lot of habits that I’ve always known I wanted to implement in my life but lacked the time and, frankly, motivation to do so. With no excuses available I forced myself to actually get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I’ve made my health and fitness a non-negotiable. I gave up coffee. Imposed a 3-month alcohol ban on myself. Started playing piano again. And I’m on track to read 52 books in 2021. So what’s the point of all that? The way I see it is I’m doing my homework now so I can be better when we return to normal life. COVID-19 has made it glaringly obvious that ignoring the introvert side of myself simply will not work going forward – it’s not sustainable. These new habits – they’ll help me maintain that balance. (hopefully… stay tuned.)


And I believe, as a firm, we’ve done our homework, too. It would be easy to sit back on our heels and focus on getting by until we’re back to normal. Thing is, we’re not heading back to normal; we’re heading into a new normal. Merely doing what we’ve always done just won’t cut it any longer. We’ve been great at search, we are great at search and we always will be great at search but as the world changes and our clients change along with it, we needed to expand our service offerings to allow us to partner alongside our clients in a meaningful way that solves their problems of tomorrow.


Last month we announced our partnership with BirchGrove Leadership as we rolled out our eight leadership advisory services. We began this process many months ago first learning what BirchGrove, led by Dr. Jill Birch, offered as leadership development coaches and second, and most importantly, how these offerings could be customized and adjusted for a uniquely Alberta perspective. We took the time to talk to Alberta leaders and learn their perspective on leadership as it has been in Alberta and what it could be in the future. If we were going to delve into the world of leadership development, we needed to make sure that our product would match the expectations and needs of our clients. In November of 2020 our firm held our annual retreat where we ran these leadership offerings through the Pekarsky & Co. lens – it also needed to fit with our unique voice and we, as search consultants, needed to be well-versed in these offerings.


All that is to say that when we launched our Leadership Development services at the beginning of March, we had put months of thoughtful, hard work into it and we’re happy to report that one month in, the response has proved our theory correct – Calgary’s leaders need this. See, they’ve also been doing their homework and have come to the conclusion that the new normal will require different tools and skillsets from their teams and for their leaders. They need to provide these tools, plans and training to their teams to usher in this next phase and they need to partner with a firm who not only understands their business and their people but also understands leadership, on-boarding, and the importance of equity, diversity & inclusion. A partner who can serve as a trusted advisor as they navigate a post-pandemic world.


We’re thirteen months in and we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll admit there’s a part of me that will be sad to see my perfect introvert world come to an end. The extroverts will win the day – they’re extroverts after all – and we’ll be back at the office, back at dinners and functions, events and obligations and (hopefully) I’ll be able to keep some gas in the tank, but our firm? Alberta? We’ll be just fine, we did our homework.


Kate Spencer is a Research Associate with Pekarsky & Co., an avid Taylor Swift fan, aspiring trail runner and proud auntie to her soon-to-be six nieces and nephews and Husky puppies, Rip and Wheeler.