I’m a sixties child and I love my music – I listen to music everywhere I go. I have access to music in every room of my house so that I can switch on the radio, listen to CDs, or downloaded music wherever and whenever I want – simply put, it’s my calming influence. Since March, our lives have turned upside down but I’ve made the effort to ensure that I still find time to listen to my music – to unwind, chill or just get away from the madness of the outside world. One thing I am absolutely sure of is that Covid will not have any impact on music being recorded or listened to, although the channels to listen to it may change for me – where I loved to explore CDs in a shop, I now download it to my phone or tablet, but music is still my security blanket to a normal life .. and we all need to find something that channels our thoughts to positive places!

Covid has been one hell of a learning curve for me – both personally and professionally.  In the words of REM .. “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” … the pandemic has made me stop, think, learn, change, and really find a new perspective to many things in life, to appreciate and respect other people and their circumstances more so than I have ever done.

My job is to build relationships and I’m proud of this – many of our supplier account managers are friends as well as industry colleagues. I know their partners’ names and what their kids are up to, and I love to share my own experiences with them.  So, as we moved into lock-down, we had to rethink how we communicated with everyone, friends, colleagues, and family alike. Keeping in touch with our airline partners was critical in order to keep updated on everything from network closures, cancellations, policies and that dreaded word .. refunds! But with many of our account managers being furloughed to reduce the immense strain on the purse strings of the airlines, I had to rethink that communication line … and quickly! Thankfully, I have always encouraged the upline reports of our account managers to get to know us, so, when people were furloughed, I picked up the pace and went to their boss or their boss’ boss to ensure they knew what Focus was up to and we understood their developments and policies, ensuring that we kept the communication channels open 24/7.

In addition to many of our supplier account managers being furloughed, we had to go through the same assessment at Focus centrally. Preserving the bank balance and being lean on the way our business is run was critical and quickly we had to place half of our already small team into furlough, adding another layer of complexity to the emotions of those who were still managing the business full time. I’m not one to wallow, so I picked up the gauntlet of learning on the job and being able to help our TMC Partners with whatever they needed. Thinking out of the box is critical – life has changed and balancing the needs of our TMC Partners, the emotions of our furloughed staff, the enormous volume of information being channelled through as well as changes to my own family and friends’ lives was like my head being in a washing machine for much of the week, but stopping at the end of a day and listening to music helped keep me in check.

Four plus months on and life is starting to settle. I’ve had to live with the emotion of having to make a colleague’s role redundant, but I’ve also been able to balance this with seeing some of our TMC Partners becoming more engaged with what we do and what they need from us. Focus has become stronger in a weakened market and I applaud everyone who has come together to share experiences but more so to ask for help. I’m proud of our airline colleagues who are suffering the most – they’ve shown us why we love this industry – the passion, resilience, and pure family-spirit of everyone who works in it is amazing. I do miss the face-to-face engagement and comradery of meeting up with my industry friends and I will positively look forward to the day when we can do that again.

Zoom fatigue hit some time back and that makes you really appreciate what we had more than ever before. I am looking forward to the challenges of the “new normal” and using my creative energy to look at new opportunities and make the best out of a strange world is more paramount than ever – whether it be working with colleagues on events, strategy, commercial deals, income opportunities or just sharing industry updates with our TMC Partners. I’m ready to fight this head on and we will survive it.  Our team may have shrunk in numbers, but we always have each other’s backs and we are a family made up of professional and talented individuals and I can wholeheartedly say that I am proud to be part of the Focus Central team.

Returning to my passion of music – there are a few songs that will now always make me smile and remember our Covid hiccup in life. How can you not beam at The Police’s song “Don’t stand so close to me” or Queen’s “I want to break free” but I guess the one that will resonate the most with me (and you can now see that I am definitely a sixties child) is Bob Dylan’s “The times – they are a-changing” .. a true classic and with that, I’m off to listen to some more of my favourite tracks.