Issue - July/August 2021


The Advantage of Agility

By Michael Hughes, Vice President Global Business Development, Arpin Group, Inc.

During the pandemic, Arpin was fortunate to be in a situation where the key elements of our culture played to an advantage—one of which is agility. From the boots on the ground up to the ownership, we’ve always kept the ability to adapt in a fluid way at the core of our success—our secret sauce, if you will. This ability came in handy when the pandemic and lockdowns began. Our service structure requires that we constantly adapt to client-directed demands, supply chain capabilities, and customer needs. This structure played a significant advantage in that we spent very little time wondering or waiting; we got into action almost immediately. We took an inventory of our assets (talents), liabilities (inefficiencies), and exposures (risks), and began to work through stages of a plan that progressed through levels of intensity.

Regarding our talent pool, our technology department went into immediate action setting up virtual tools such as Teams, virtual phones, security networks, and more. As we transitioned team members to work from home, we incorporated a long-term view; we weren’t building patchwork solutions but laying stepping stones to a new normal. Our priority was to restructure the work environment so that individuals could continue to provide uninterrupted service. While that was happening, our customer-facing teams and business development members were in the market obtaining intel on customer concerns, market trends, and supplier concerns, and bringing all these components succinctly together to formalize smart decision-making driven by factual observations.

Concerning inefficiencies, we were looking at a catastrophic situation in which our greatest asset, our people, were not able to deliver an Arpin experience in person with our clients and key customers. This situation called for us to identify digital relatives who could express the same sentiment, care, dedication, and commitment to a customer’s success. We looked at the inefficiencies forced upon us by not being allowed to travel as opportunities to try something new. Thus, Arpin International Group developed digital programming on YouTube.

One of these new programs is “My Expat Moving Story–A Life of Relocation.” This new video series profiles seasoned expatriates who share their tales of international moving—the good, the bad, and the stressful. The series is designed to appeal to expats, those thinking about taking up an international assignment for the first time, or persons working in the HR, global mobility or relocation sector, to learn about real-life moving experiences firsthand from our expat guests. Beyond video projects, we took to our communication tools and revamped and invested in technology that allows for a more seamless and interactive online presence.

To minimize exposure to unnecessary risks, we assessed areas of opportunity in parallel service offerings. As we had diversified our main business lines already, we looked at what products would be in demand in the future and which we had the capacity to put in place.

These steps have had significant effects on our culture. Our main business units have become closer and more reliant upon and supportive of each other. Information is more readily shared and in general a more candid, down to earth, go-get-them culture has taken form. We believe that this culture will stay with us long after the pandemic is over. For sure, once a sense of normalcy is re-established, this close cooperation may diminish; however, it has for now become a cornerstone and a hallmark of the Arpin teammates who weathered the storm together.