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Looking back on 2020: Shield GEO team highlights

Summarizing this year is an overwhelming task. At times I think we’ve all wondered whether we even want to remember 2020 and everything that came along with it. Wouldn’t it just be easier to wipe this year from our calendars and forget the whole thing happened? And yet, this year remains unforgettable in almost every sense of the word — so thoroughly has it changed our perspectives, routines, and outlooks on life.

There is no doubting 2020 has been a year of incredible loss. Loss of lives, of normalcy, of physical touch. Loss of homes to natural disasters and jobs to economic crises. We’ve lost the ability to celebrate milestones in person and smile at strangers on the street, incredible businesses, and the chance to safely travel to new places.    

I think 2020 has also been a mirror revealing what many of us have been too busy to pay attention to before. We’ve come face to face with our own underlying biases and our blind acceptance of the status quo — even when it never served us or others. 

And with all of this in mind, I think we’ve gained some things from this year too. 

When I asked our Shield team if they had any highlights from the year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe jokes about new sweatpants addictions or face mask collections. Instead, I was moved by how much hope and optimism they shared in the midst of such strange and challenging times. Stories of connection and resilience shone through as well as an overwhelming sense of gratitude. 

“2020 is not supposed to be a great year, but it has been a great year,” our offboarding consultant Kim Luy said, and despite everything, I’m inclined to agree. 

Company highlights

This year, Shield closed our London and Sydney offices and became 100% remote. We’ve continued to restructure our teams and formalize new positions, leading to welcoming over 25 new faces to our team from all over the world. Our Client Facing teams are now led by the inimitable Brenda, and we’ve had big changes to how our Finance, Tech, Operations, and Offboarding teams are structured with new managers across each of them. 

Our Sales team has exceeded various internal goals, our Tech team built several functional solutions that increased usability and functionality, and all teams worked together to update communication processes with the Marketing team. Finance has developed and published process guidelines meaning better organization and less dependence on a few individuals. Our Onboarding, Account Management, and Offboarding teams had their busiest years yet. They worked incredibly hard to overcome the challenges that 2020 threw at them. 

Despite our annual in-person retreat being canceled earlier this year, we’re more connected than ever as Stella leads us through monthly virtual retreat sessions which have fast become a company highlight. 

As a team, we’ve celebrated lockdown birthdays, weddings, babies, and puppies. We’ve shared virtual coffees, lunches, and plenty of knock-off drinks. Our Slack channels are vibrant with memes, jokes, photos, and countless emojis. All signs of lives lived through an outrageous year. 

Team highlights

“Going towards the end of the year, I suddenly find myself a proud owner of around 80 + fruit-bearing banana trees! I am going to go head to head with my offboarding buddy Julieta, who has olive trees. LOL. Do I know what I’m doing? Not really.”

— Kim Luy, Offboarding Consultant 

 

“I learnt so much about my siblings during the lockdown months; we had so many virtual quizzes, fancy dress parties, and catch-ups together and connected more than when we lived in the same house. 

I’m taking big doses of optimism and gratitude into 2021 because in 2020 I learnt, re-learnt and learnt again, that no matter how bleak the outlook, there is still so much to be grateful for and a positive mind frame goes a long way toward yielding positive outcomes. “

— Bonani Chimedza, Implementation Consultant

 

  • “Going to Colombia and exploring Medellin/Guatape!
  • Road tripping through the US for 2 months! (Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia).
  • Starting a nonprofit! (https://applerunway.org/).
  • Buying a house!
  • I also got back into my old college workout routine now that I’ve got more free time because of covid. Carrying that motivation into 2021 and a friend and I are going to run 48 miles in 48 hours in early March!”

— Jake Sedlacek, Project Analyst 

 

  • “We got our little puppy Ozzie, a French Bulldog who has been a joyful addition and has made the dreary days in lockdown more bearable.
  • Made more time and effort to speak to our loved ones. I would really like to keep this up in the new year.
  • In lockdown, we arranged dress-up dinners at home, board games, themed drinks and cocktail making, virtual wine tasting, virtual quiz nights with friends
  • I am truly grateful for being a part of the Shield GEO Family. Shield GEO has been my biggest aid in getting through these challenging times, not only because I have had a job when many have lost theirs, but because of the people and their support. The people are truly the foundation of this company and we have all pulled together, knowing that if we can get through this and still achieve just imagine what the future still has in store for us, together.”

— Givanny Madsen, Head of Customer Success

 

“I’ve been amazed at how everyone has pulled together at Shield and supported one another not only professionally but personally. And even more, blown away by how we’ve navigated the challenges as a company together.

I’ve known a number of people that have either contracted Covid and lost friends and relatives, and I’ve been blown away by their resilience and courage.”

— Duncan Macintosh, Director, and Co-founder

 

“I got married in 2020, and it was the best thing I have ever done!”

— Svetlana Bettiol, Implementation Manager

  

  • “Going skiing for a week in Park City Utah with my family in February was the highlight, without realizing this would be the last time I would see them for a long, long time due to COVID. 
  • Getting our 2 teenage boys through junior and senior year of high school via zoom calls and our oldest son off to college during COVID.
  • Working for Shield GEO and watching how the leaders of the company navigated so skillfully through unprecedented times, with empathy, kindness, and understanding to help us with what we were feeling and going through with our Clients, each other, and our families.” 

— Jennifer Henne, Global Mobility SME

 

  • “Arranged the trip to Mexico in December 2019 for March without knowing Covid would turn into a global pandemic and we managed to renew our work visa and get back to the USA a couple of weeks before the consulate and the borders closed. 
  • Having 2 little boys that continue to laugh, dance and have twinkly eyes after staying at home for 9 months in a row. 
  • Coming to terms with the fact that my daughter is an adult and she’s ready to fly even when I still see her as my baby.
  • Building a 500 ft fence and shoveling 12 tons of rocks to do a backyard make-over. I will remember the awful pain muscle and how we should respect people that do this for a living. 

Although the year is not over, all of us (in the company) will remember that in 2020 we belonged to Shield GEO and we were able to keep our jobs and have an income, which is a blessing, but furthermore, we probably felt that colleagues were extended family at some point in the year. Our own families frequently do not understand what we do, so it’s nice to share the ups and downs of work amongst us.”

— Brenda Limon, Client Services Director

 

“Healthy baby born in Jan 2020. With birth, there is also death, my grandma passed away at 95 recently. Returned to work from full time to part-time to a different position. I realized that the past 10 years has been about babies and work, and I haven’t been doing much reflection. It’s been all about chasing for what’s next, like a guinea pig on a wheel.

So this year, I got to slow down, still busy but less ‘running around’. There’ve been lots of reflections, self-care and thinking about what matters to me, what motivates me, and searching for meaning, be more present with anything that I do. I’d like to continue this in 2021.”

— Wee Yen Wong, Finance Reporting Manager 

  

“I think the silver lining in any tough situation is that there’s nowhere to go but up! Hard times teach you worthy lessons and this year has reminded me that, even in my lowest points, I am truly blessed to have family and friends who care for me and resources that I often take for granted (money, a job, a nice home, etc.). My sister was in the hospital early this year, and now she’s healthy and doing well at a new job that she found in the middle of the pandemic. I am happy she is thriving again! My mom turned 60, and although she’s not happy about it, I’m grateful she’s reached this milestone since my dad passed at 57. My grandma will turn 90 this Christmas, and I’m very sad I won’t be able to celebrate with her, but as soon as I can I will go home to snuggle her!”

— Asia Hundley, Customer Success Manager

 

  • Living in LA, enjoying California summer, and rekindling friendships with people I had lost touch with while being away.
  • Completing my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. It was something I set as a goal at the beginning of this year, but I wasn’t sure how I’d make it happen. Thankfully, the academy I wanted to study with moved their program online.
  • Explored therapy with a counselor. Although I don’t see her anymore, I’m so happy I tried it as a self-care/development tool, definitely something I’d do again in the future.
  • I moved out into a small 1bdrm apartment a mile from the beach. 
  • Landing this role with Shield!! I had been wanting a remote job for a couple of years where I could travel internationally, so joining this team has definitely been a huge highlight of this year!”

— Angela Moon, Digital Marketing Consulting

 

“I have a big, big family and even though we are all around the world, we’ve always been very close to each other and this year wasn’t an exception, we were able to be together not only for the sad moments but also for the good ones even if it was virtually.

Though I think the biggest events were my cousin having a beautiful, healthy baby girl during lockdown (can’t wait to get on a plane to Sydney to go meet her), getting my WP approved for 2 years 🙂 and my aunt getting engaged. “

— Karla Olivero, Account Manager

 

Kenia & her puppy, Luca
  • “Enrolled and finished my Postgraduate Certificate in HR Management.
  • Got invited by the US Dept of State to mentor through different projects 28 women directly on Self-Assessment and Personal Development. This is my way of contributing to the development of my country and my region.
  • Got invited by an organization to give a webinar. My first ever! Took the risk and did it. Subject: Personal Development and Leadership. After that, I gave 3 more and reached about 1,300 people in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
  • Took the risk and moved out of my parent’s house with Luca to a comfy and cute apartment. A whole new adventure! Buying the chair, the table, the pans… One of the greatest decisions of my life! And yes, got me the most loving puppy in the world.”

— Kenia Peña, AM Associate

 

“I moved into a new apartment with new roommates RIGHT before we went into strict lockdown. Thankfully my roommate and I got to know each other and got along really well. We cooked lunch and dinner each day together, he taught me how to make pasta/gnocchi, we painted on the balcony on the weekends and did “Sunday yoga retreats” – basically got stuck with a random for 4 months, and we ended up becoming best friends. We took a photo series on polaroids spread over the 4 months of the lockdown we experienced together – these I will treasure and show my kids one day :)”

— Rosalyn Kamp, Customer Success Manager

 

“Working from home. My kids not being in after school care. New puppy Kiki. Being so safe in Australia, which is so safe. Everyone at Shield who made going through a pandemic and all that uncertainty much less scary. All our new team members who made things so much better. All our old team members for getting us here and sticking around. The babies that came throughout the year. Attending overseas conferences without getting on a plane.”

— Tim Burgess, Co-founder and Director 

 

“2020 was the year I finally did things that I’ve always wanted to do but never got round to doing – some of which are questionable. 

  • Dye my hair blonde, purple, blue and pink 
  • Shave my head – this was not intentional  
  • Travel to Europe 
  • No shave Movember – not going great tbh

I’ve always kept my work self separate from my personal self. Since working from home, the distinction between the two has started to blur, and it’s been fun. 

Going into 2021, I want to start writing! The way the world views gender and race has been very interesting to experience – there’s so much to say. “

— Sujay Abhilash, Product Marketing Manager

 

Anna’s last harvest of the year
  • “Started a new job (Thanks Shieldians for a great time!)
  • Read 50+ books
  • Started going to archery school
  • Did a 60-day sober challenge
  • Successfully created my first veggie garden (lots of lessons there)
  • Got nominated for an award
  • Learned to cook a bunch of yummy new vegetarian recipes
  • Got 100% completion on Red Dead Redemption 2 (probably my greatest lifetime achievement)

I’d really like to take away practicing more gratitude in 2021. I tend to focus so much on what’s next or what’s missing that I sometimes forget to smell the roses and bask in the good stuff that’s happening. I’d like to slow down a bit and just enjoy the moment.

— Anna Duncanson, Salesforce Development Manager

 

“This year, I welcomed my second baby boy! and of course, I started my career here in Shield GEO, which I am truly grateful for!”

— Melody Gadiano, Accountant 

 

And finally, we wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone we worked with this year. To our incredible clients, new and old, we’ve loved working alongside you to tackle the many challenges this year brought for international employment and we look forward to all that’s to come in the new year.

–Bree Caggiati

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