Houston/Gulf Coast SEAoT, I am writing to you from the future, 17 hours in the future to be exact; where despite the worldwide pandemic, the world is still spinning, and we have hope for a speedy recovery. After 5 weeks of lockdown, New Zealand businesses are starting to open again; restaurants are offering take-out (a blissful respite to home-cooking), schools are starting to prepare to open and “personal bubbles” are slightly expanding. Travel is still limited to “essential trips”, but at least there is movement towards loosening restrictions. Important for the engineering community here: construction sites are once again allowed to operate! Never have I so enjoyed putting on a hard hat and steel toe boots and walking onto a job site where I actively participate in a project moving forward. Even with social distancing on the site, talking to a familiar person, in-person, is surprisingly heartwarming. I think we are all longing for life to get back to “normal” and every step towards that goal gives us hope that we will achieve it. It has been the unknown path and schedule toward normalcy that has taken such a toll. We can all sustain sacrifice for a certain amount of time, but eventually our hopes need to be realized, even if slowly. I am seeing those glimmers and I hope you are too.
You are a resilient group of capable and creative professionals, with whom I am honored to hold membership. Our community is no stranger to struggles and challenges, but we have always come through #HoustonStrong and these unique times are no different. The difficulties you are facing with your businesses and in your personal lives, because of government closures, are not trivial. But I am confident that all the changes and adjustments you have been forced to accommodate have made you more resilient. Resilience is your ability to recover and return to normal. It is acquired through forward thinking and implementing strategies that enable recovery. Your circumstances right now are valuable opportunities to invest in yourself and learn how to be more resilient.
What are some strategies you, or your company, have implemented to help you get through these difficult times? Have you reconnected with friends and colleagues through zoom meetings? Is your home office functional for long term remote working? What about internet connectivity and access to your business intranet? Have you learned to efficiently schedule your time so you can put in a full day of work and juggle teaching your kids their lessons? How have you interacted with your clients to reassure them that your quality and timely work will continue, and what have you initiated to assure follow-through? So many of the obstacles you have overcome in the past weeks, and are troubleshooting on a day-to-day basis, are valuable skills that will benefit you even after this pandemic passes.
As an organization, SEAoT Houston/Gulf Coast has been brainstorming ways to overcome our temporary disjointedness. Like so many others, we moved our meetings online to keep providing you with opportunities to learn and stay connected to your local network. I hope you enjoyed our first monthly Zoom webinar on April 16th. Even after the lockdowns are removed, we want to continue to offer this online connectivity to accommodate those busy times that would otherwise prevent your participation. However, we also recognize that online meetings are lacking in the personal touch. There is a marked difference between face-to-face interaction over lunch and talking to several small windows on our computers which occasionally freeze from a slow internet connection. When we come out of these lockdowns, I hope you will find the time to connect in person with your colleagues, friends and family. You will profit from the human interaction.
Keep hoping, be resilient, and stay connected.
President, SEAoT Houston/Gulf Coast