IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) members adjusting to the new normal of remote working may find it difficult to contend with schedule disruptions, isolation, stress, technology, and more. To help navigate some of those challenges, three senior IMA volunteer leaders shared their insights. All three work in higher education, which has its own unique learning curve for remote teaching – two are former IMA Global Board Chairs and the third is the incoming Board Chair. Here is their advice:
Emergence of New Leaders
For Sandra B. Richtermeyer, Ph.D., CMA, CPA (inactive), former IMA Global Board Chair and dean of the Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts Lowell, there have been some bright spots amid the struggle.
“People are coming together to help each other in new ways,” Richtermeyer says. “On our campus, full-time and adjunct faculty don’t often have the opportunity to collaborate together, so this has been really positive, and the faculty have grown their network of colleagues.
Richtermeyer also notes that there have been some surprises: “We often hear the saying ‘Everyone can lead in their own way,’ and I’ve found this to be very true during this crisis. New leaders are emerging as everyone is sharing information, finding access to emergency funding and technology, helping with meetings, and the like. People who want to help are showing leadership skills that perhaps their colleagues never knew they had.”
Prepare and Stick to a Schedule
Practical advice can often be the best. Notes Paul Juras, Ph.D., CMA, CPA (inactive), incoming IMA Board Chair and professor at Babson College, “Take the time to practice with tools that you might have used infrequently or maybe not at all. For example, while WebEx might be the tool of choice for group interaction, maybe a tool like Zoom will have better connectivity during times of high demand for WebEx bandwidth, or can serve as a backup if WebEx goes down.”
Juras also recommends keeping to a routine: “Regarding your personal schedule, get up each morning and get ready just like you would if you were going to the office [or campus]. Keep regular hours and have a time when you ‘go home,’ just as if you were leaving for the day.”
Keep It in Perspective
Brian McGuire, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, another former IMA Global Board Chair and associate dean of the Romain College of Business at the University of Southern Indiana, emphasizes two things: “Be both compassionate and flexible. It’s a challenging time for everyone, so communicating is especially important.” He also calls on those with more experience – in areas of technology, remote working, and even time management – to assist those who are less adept.
For perspective, McGuire offers some wise words, specific to education but appropriate even more broadly: “And remember, no matter how challenging things are at the present, higher education has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years (i.e., the first true university was founded in Bologna, Italy, in 1088). Since that time, the world has experienced wars, famines, and pandemics, but we have continued to succeed.”