Executive Insights

All About the People: Priorities in the Chaos of COVID-19

By Gilma Saravia | Chief People Officer | May 11, 2020

Just two weeks into my new role as chief people officer, I found myself mobilizing a team to live up to my new title – to guide and protect our global team during an unprecedented pandemic. Talk about a quick and steep onboarding. When engulfed in a crisis, you get to experience the true DNA of a company. Today, I am overwhelmed and humbled at how our community of customers, partners and employees have come together.

As I reach my two-month mark here at Altair, I have been reflecting on how proud and thankful I am to call myself an Altairian. I have seen firsthand how our values are the foundation of what is helping us thrive during this time of uncertainty.

Envisioning the future has served as our true North. Instead of focusing on short-term gains, we rejected rash decisions and concentrated on continuing to offer innovations around new ways to work, partnering with customers, and collaborating as one global team. As a result, our global workforce has remained productive, engaged, and optimistic about the future.

Communicating honestly and broadly has been another important element. In assessing the risks of COVID-19, Jim Scapa, our CEO, acted without hesitation to deploy a work-from-home strategy to ensure our employees across 86 offices in 25 countries remained safe and connected. He was ahead of the curve in taking what was viewed as drastic measures to keep our team healthy and safe.

Today, our global workforce continues to come together to support each other in countless ways, whether it’s our internal medical team offering virtual health and wellness programs (like Pilates, meditation, mental health tips, and information sessions by medical professionals to educate and answer questions about COVID-19) or individual Altairians organically sharing healthy recipes and activities for children and families. And I am proud to say that one of our regional offices was even able to procure masks for all Altairians and their families.

We are already thinking about what is next, and of course, we will continue to adhere to local governmental and regulatory guidelines. Right now, we are preparing for a return to all our offices around the world, safely and responsibly. Part of the strategy includes holding site training so employees are comfortable and aware of new health and safety protocols that will be implemented. We are also planning to allow employees to continue to work from home, knowing they will always have an office they can return to when needed.

Making the decision to join a new company is complex. The people, opportunities for impact, and values all come into play. When I found Altair, I was looking for an organization that not only allowed me to continue my career but aligned with my personal values. I craved a company with more than words on a wall or corporate speak. I wanted to be part of an authentic culture where collaboration, innovation, and teamwork make a difference. And barely 60 days in, this pandemic has shown me that I made the right call.