CEO: 2020 – It’s a wrap

I think I prefer White Swans.

Like all of you, I am out of superlatives to describe 2020 and have coronavirus indigestion. 

I find myself broadly agreeing with most of the mainstream views on the return to the office, on it being an accelerator of embedded change and the social inequality that it lays bare. I am not quite sure I am there though on the developing view that it was a Chinese man-made virus designed to reduce an ageing population which has worked (old people dying with younger generations being asymptomatic), but at 52 nothing really surprises me anymore.

So here are some random personal thoughts and memories on 2020;

  • Our clients are a reasonable lot. They really are. Almost all of them have engaged with their customers, in many cases taking preemptive action to offer concessions and to provide support and pragmatic solutions. That made our life easier – so we thank them.
  • Their customers are on the whole a resilient lot. There is still the odd rascal. ‘Cuban Tony’ you know who you are.
  • INTU was challenging. My June exam question was broadly along the lines of ‘if we take back these schemes will we have enough money to comply with our legal obligations and keep them open’. The answer was yes, they remained open and hundreds of people kept their jobs.
  • Describing pretty much everyone as a hero is a bit dull, but observing the nurses and doctors whilst on a COVID-19 ward with my Father as he fought and subsequently lost his battle with the virus was humbling. Their tireless bravery and commitment, their enduring grace and their dark humour was incredible.
  • Views on real estate being a force for good are becoming more embedded. Five years ago I suggested we ditch big, glitzy but somehow very bland corporate Christmas trees in the buildings we manage and replace them with brown cardboard ones at a fraction of the price, donating some of the considerable savings to a worthwhile cause. I was laughed out of town. This year, with no prompting from me, it happened and with the consent of occupiers we donated nearly £10,000 to Love Your Neighbour and Love Christmas.
  • MAPP entered the pandemic with 320 amazing people. We end the year with around 420. They are still amazing.
  • I was never a big fan of BoJo. He has been dealt a tough hand, but I have less respect for him now than I did at the start of the pandemic (although he is still comfortably ahead of Gavin Williamson).
  • I am glad I am not a politician.
  • Working out which of my friends, colleagues and clients are libertarians (who would never think of going into Waitrose and stealing a bag of peas, but are very happy to have 12 people round for an illegal dinner party) and which are Statists, has and remains a challenge. The results can sometimes be surprising. It’s not unlike working out the Brexiteer/Remainer conundrum.
  • Q1 2021 is going to be horrible – off the scale horrible, and then there is some serious cleaning up to do. It’s not going to be pretty.

Anyway enough from me.

I very much hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas, that your sprouts make it all the way through from Brussels and I look forward to being a little less socially distant in 2021.