On a cold but sunny Friday in March I was heading to my office at the Humphree HQ. We’d negotiated an expansion of our offices with our landlord, a long term commitment, a fair bit of funds on the table and an important project for the company. The signing of the contract that Friday was interrupted by a phone call from my kids’ school, one of my loved ones ill and off I went to care for her; contract signing had to wait until Monday. T￼hat Monday stock markets tumbled, travel was restricted, people were getting sick and intensive care units were overloaded with patients in critical condition. Italy, UK and the US was in different phases of lock down and there were a whole lot of questions from colleagues, customers, shareholders and suppliers. That’s when the leadership ability of you and your management team is truly tested.
…stock markets tumbled, travel was restricted, people were getting sick and intensive care units were overloaded with patients in critical condition.
Half of my management team is new, half has been with Humphree since the very early days of the company. We got together on Tuesday morning and went through our forecasts, assumptions and how to manage our operations. I would say that we had a robust discussion and in the end we agreed that where demand would go from now is anyones guess and an inside-out rather than a outside-in excersize followed. My COO, Erica Gill, had already managed challenges with electronics and she had plans in play to secure critical supply. Erica is an action woman and when a supplier cannot, Erica can do. She also worked out safety measures to keep our production team safe and in the game. My CFO, Henrik Hansson, made a forecast model, risk assessment and cash flow projection based on our assumptions to get a shared view on our challenge. Henrik’s an analytical team player and quickly concluded that we’re standing strong if supply would hold up.
Per Landegren, CSO, is a cut-the-crap-show-me-the-facts personality and based on solid supply, healthy financials and our long lasting customer relationships his conclusion was that it’s in these times Humphree has to work harder to support customers and manage an elevated risk level. Christer Widmark, CTO, was amid recruiting specialists for the R&D team and naturally we asked ourselves if it’d be wise to expand in the light of a pandemic and a severe economic downturn. Christer, an entrepreneur at heart, was quickly pointing out that we had an opportunity to recruit hard-to-get competence. Having grown fast had also meant tough priorities, we had a fair bit of good development work to do that we under our exceptional growth pace never have had the possibility to even initiate. We were in strong agreement that our strategy & long term vision was still as relevant as ever. We agreed that we believe in where we’re going, we’re likely robust enough to take higher risk than peers in our industry and hence it made sense to invest our way through the pandemic. We did agree to put the decision on the expansion of our facilities on hold for a month to see how our plan was holding up. The pandemic was, and still is, far from over and we’ve yet to see the long term effects on our industry. It was buzzing in the board room and it was a day where it felt damn good to be the CEO of Humphree.