Perpetual: Becoming One Team in 2019 – by Elizabeth Lee & Samantha Jaykus
In keeping with our annual tradition, Perpetual decided to Batten Down the Hatches, figure out how to get Shipshape, and get everyone On Board with the next chapter of our growth by having an All Hands On Deck Corporate Annual Retreat. We embarked on our yearly January adventure that brought everyone together to take stock of 2018 and make sure we were Seaworthy and ready to Set A Course for 2019 during our Fifth Annual Retreat.
If it’s not painfully obvious, to celebrate our fifth year, we went with a nautical theme. With this in mind, we set our Annual Retreat in beautiful Newport, RI. What we didn’t know was that fate had other ideas… Right smack in the middle of our retreat, Newport had a 2-week long gas emergency which left the whole city without heat. With Newport virtually shut down to outside visitors, the Perpetual team needed to rethink our whole plan and pivot to a new reality. The team did this splendidly, with a “local” retreat in Norwalk. Driven by our recently completed brand re-architecture project whose objective was to clearly and effectively articulate how Perpetual is one business aligned under one brand, the overarching undercurrent of this Annual Retreat was how we are embracing and truly becoming One Team/One Brand.
Below are two different views on our just completed “local” retreat in Norwalk given to us by 2 separate employees with slightly different perspectives. Samantha Jaykus, the most seasoned member of our Delivery Team and Elizabeth Lee, one of the newest members of our Business Development Team. Though Sam and Elizabeth come to the retreat experience from different vantage points, both tell their story through the lens of our five corporate values that are the bedrock of our One Team/One Brand strategy here at Perpetual. We hope you enjoy the below and that we have the pleasure of working with you in 2019.
EL: All of the team members from the Pi Group came together for the annual retreat, though, the retreat, much like most of 2018, required lots of pivots and adaptations. Like a sailing crew adjusting sails to the winds yet still stay on course, our planning team did a wonderful job with a last-minute request to change the venue and the condense the entire schedule on behalf of Mother Nature.
The trip, planned as a surprise with the location revealed only a week before departure, was originally planned to take place in Newport, RI. After a back to back snow storm and rain storm knocked out gas and power access for the town, quick action was taken for a “stay home” retreat and I am happy to say it was a smashing success.
SJ: As a more “seasoned” member of the Perpetual: team I have had my fair share of wind shifts and tidal changes, so to speak, during my tenure. Ironically, I’m an avid sailor and have spent a lot of time traveling up to Newport, RI for training – with that being said, I was sure that Newport was going to be the perfect location for us collaborate and define how we were going to be a high performing team in 2019.
As Elizabeth said, we had to abruptly change courses due to Mother Nature – a reoccurring theme in sailing that makes the sport equivalent to a game of chess on the water. Throughout my experience here at Pi it has been evident that we are an extremely agile group – a reoccurring theme that we hope to bring with us into 2019 (and the years ahead).
EL: I’m new to the Pi Group, having committed to the journey together in June 2018 to grow our diverse client base and expand our offerings. After six months of changing winds, thankfully we came together to realize a rebranding and repositioning was required: we must come together as One Team. With a plan in place to do just that as a business in Q4 2018, it drove home the importance of our annual retreat with this year’s theme being “One Team.”
Again, it was executed flawlessly! Our location changed but the core of our agenda did not: reviewing the business plan and challenges ahead, brainstorming on innovations and understanding how we can work together to overcome the seemingly impossible and achieve a more perfect unity as One Team and One Brand.
SJ: Even though I have been on the good ship Perpetual now for 18 months, coming out of this Annual Retreat I feel wholly reenergized, with a renewed sense of purpose and a new point of view! Since joining in August of 2017, I have seen Perpetual constantly evolve and change to better serve our customers. Having said that, I think our realignment to a One Team/One Brand mentality is the most significant change we have ever undertaken as a company. Our rebrand and repositioning in 2019, has at its core the idea of refocusing us on our brand’s value proposition and how we best engage and serve our clients moving forward.
Our annual retreat serves as an environment to disconnect and reconnect – disconnect the technology and reconnect the team – this was critical as we headed into 2019 with a “One Team” mindset instilled in all of us.
EL: Our retreat was filled with many activities. One of the best examples of one of these team building activities was our team build of a giant jigsaw puzzle. This exercise required us to come together on various small jobs efficiently so that we could achieve our overall build goal in record time, much like pit crews have taken pit stop times from an average of 70 seconds in the 1950’s to a world record of just under 2 seconds in 2016 (this was an actual video we watched to kick off our retreat). Like modern pit crews, we learned a lot about each other in tackling the jigsaw puzzle. We learned about communication, the best ways to move forward, the joy of setting goals and ripping through our own records and recalibrating the expectations of how amazing we could become at a task with thoughtful, iterative improvements we implemented with each run of solving something together.
Going through these activities in between reviewing our 5-year Business Plan and our Financial Performance made for a lively first day together, and with the sun shining through, it’s not surprising that we all felt the need for a cool beverage and a fun celebration at the end of the day. Next up: MURDER MYSTERY!
SJ: (Elizabeth and I were on the “winning” team of the Jigsaw Puzzle competition, but we won’t get into that now). The wooden jigsaw puzzle provided us with a few things to reflect on – 1. How are we communicating? And was that the most efficient way for us to do so? 2. What is our strategy? And how can that be tailored so we can be better and faster? Never settle on improving communication within your organization and never settle on tailoring your strategy to make yourselves “better”.
After going through these activities, I think it’s safe to say that you’ll find Perpetual: at the next Indy 500.
EL: The Pi Group continued to transform into One Team as Perpetual, took on characters and personas of 1920s celebrities and entered an evening of detective work with a Murder Mystery Party. We answered key things like: “how much wine can we consume,” “who has the best appetite for outlandish costumes” and “that’s why our UK folks don’t try to speak in American accents.” We also solved-or more appropriately-witnessed a “double murder” as acted out by a lovely troupe from NYC and were thankful they revealed the perpetrator…so that we could get on with our team awards!
After a long fun evening, the team was up for round two of intense work sessions interspersed with team activities. A little bit bleary-eyed from the previous night’s activities, we reconvened for a full day of events designed to hammer home the idea of One Team/One Brand. We had a great presentation from our newly formed Delivery Team that showed how they will revolutionize the sourcing end of our business and take it to the next level. This set the tone for a day of high-quality discussion and planning.
In the end, we were thankful to the retreat planners. Two days of jam-packed activities, planning and learning together was much appreciated by the whole (now One) Team.
SJ: My character in our Murder Mystery Party was a precocious 8-year old named Polly Pocket who somehow ended up at a mob dinner, but hey, that “grape juice” was well worth it! As we split into teams of three for our 1920s inspired dinner, we had to reflect on a packet of information that was given to us, and with that information, come up with additional questions in order for us to really figure out who the perpetrator was.
This activity, although mainly fun and amusing, was a strange crossover to what our retreat is ultimately meant to do – as an organization we are presented with factual information on a daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly basis, we’re then tasked with coming up with additional questions and strategies to solve an overarching problem (or in this case murder).
EL: While I’ve been a part of this crew for a short while, I look forward to navigating additional changes in course as they come about, knowing I can trust the team to keep us moving in the right direction and having an amazing time while doing so. Here’s to more #HAPPYDAYS ahead!
SJ: I can assure you you’ll never meet a sailor that doesn’t like to have a good time. That statement remains true for our team – whether you’re a captain or a member of the crew, you take what you do seriously, but never yourself #HAPPYDAYS.