The world has changed, but it’s not all bad. In 2020 everything was turned upside down. The way we work has changed. The way our children are educated has changed. The way we shop has changed. But look how quickly we were able to adapt to these changes — some of which will be lasting. We’ve learned how to be productive working remotely. Our younger children have made advances in their use of technology that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And things like curbside pick-up and remote services will continue well beyond 2020.
I had the pleasure to interview Kristen Goldberg. Kristen Goldberg is director of Wholesale Channel Marketing, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. In this role, she oversees marketing activities for the Company’s enterprise solutions products inclusive of office MFPs and printers — imageRUNNER, imageRUNNER ADVANCE and imageCLASS product lines, and integrated software solutions.
Kristen joined Canon in 2003 and has held several roles within the office products group. In her current role, Kristen and her team support the wholesale channel efforts through the delivery of sales enablement tools, customized marketing programs, and training initiatives, in addition to overseeing the go-to-market planning and execution for new products and solutions in the B2B space.
Ms. Goldberg attended Loyola University of Maryland, earning an undergraduate degree in Marketing, and Hofstra University, earning a Masters of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Marketing. She lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and three children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Kristen! The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family-related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
As a mother of three young children (ages 8, 6 and 4), my number one priority has been the health and well-being of my family. Very quickly, my family of five had to adjust to a new way of living that consisted of both parents working from home, homeschooling the kids, and separation from all social activities. Like most people, the challenges were more than I can count.
The biggest challenge, while an obvious one, is finding a balance given the very sudden and very major changes to our day-to-day lives. And doing so in a way that feels as normal as it can to my children, while maintaining consistent levels of commitment and dedication to the success of my company.
There’s a sense of needing to prove yourself. I’m a working mom — I need to be just as valuable to my company as someone who’s not. Or, I’m a working mom — I need to be just as supporting and involved in my children’s lives and in their homeschooling as a mom who doesn’t have the same work commitments. The challenge is putting those pressures aside and concentrating on doing what you do best — in your work life and your home life, which are now both changed and intermingled.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Keeping a balance has not been easy, but I’m fortunate in that my husband and I were able to work as a team and juggle our schedules to accommodate our work commitments and the kids’ homeschool commitments as much as possible. That in no way means we were able to do it all, but we were able to do enough that the kids didn’t fall behind in their education. I’m an overachiever by nature, and while it hasn’t been easy, 2020 has forced me to have to let some things go and pick my battles in order to prioritize the emotional stability and happiness of my family.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Just like home life, work life changed very quickly and drastically from one week to the next. Adjusting to a new work style, using at-home technology, and maintaining continuity in my teams’ productivity during that transition was a challenge. In my leadership role, I see myself as having a responsibility to my team to instill a sense of safety and maintain their motivation during a very trying and unprecedented time.
As the Director of Marketing for Canon U.S.A.’s business solutions and office technology division, I had the added challenge of shifting our direction and core messaging given the changed business landscape. We needed to be agile and move quickly to address our customers’ needs for print and scan technology that supports work-from-home and blended work scenarios where some employees are working remotely while others are in the physical office space. On top of that, we needed to arm our sales reps with the tools to support them in a new remote selling environment.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Luckily, Canon U.S.A., was well prepared for a transition to remote work and the team was able to maintain our productivity with the shift in workstyle. We quickly established regular video-based meetings and the team was encouraged to maintain our collaborative nature, even while we were in dispersed locations.
Our marketing agility was achieved through a combination of a strong product offering backed by a team of innovative marketers tasked with bringing awareness to our customers and remotely educating our sales channels. Customers who have trusted Canon’s technology in their office environments are now able to implement a print, scan, and document management infrastructure that’s flexible and is built for a blended work environment.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
If you’re able to, set schedules. Every weekday, my kids are dressed and eating breakfast (albeit cereal) by the time the workday begins. Schoolwork is done at the same time each day — and they finish what they can in the time we set aside. After lunch they have a modified version of “recess” which usually consisted of jumping on our trampoline in the backyard. I consider it a small win that everyone in the house (even my 4-year-old) knows the difference between a weekday and a weekend.
Setting space boundaries helps, too. We were fortunate enough to each be able to carve out a corner of separate rooms to work. Setting those space boundaries helped to separate the work time from the family time.
Break down your usual roles of who does what. In my house, my husband, not usually the lead parent when it comes to schoolwork, became the primary homeschool teacher since his schedule was more flexible. And in turn, I relinquished the right to question how well it was done — not an easy task for me.
And maybe the most important advice I can give is to be forgiving with yourself. If the homework is submitted late (or not at all) — it’s okay. If your 4-year-old misses a nursery school Zoom meeting because you had a work call — it’s ok. If you’re questioning whether or not you’re giving enough at work; doing enough to keep up with your kids’ schooling; paying enough attention to your significant other; chances are… you are.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
We spend much of our time doing the same popular shelter-in-place activities as others — we watched every show or movie ever made, played a lot of board games, completed several 1,000-piece puzzles, finally taught our little ones how to ride bikes, took advantage of the curbside delivery at the local wine store, and stayed up too late on video calls with friends and family.
It is a roller coaster with ups and downs. During the more down times, it helped me to limit my exposure to the news for a few days at a time. Of course it’s important to stay informed of current events, but it was also therapeutic to walk away from it when it was becoming overbearing — especially while my family was safe and sheltering in place.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Finding the nuggets of positivity in 2020 is not easy. But, here are some personal ‘silver linings’ that give me hope.
1. The world has changed, but it’s not all bad
In 2020 everything was turned upside down. The way we work has changed. The way our children are educated has changed. The way we shop has changed. But look how quickly we were able to adapt to these changes — some of which will be lasting. We’ve learned how to be productive working remotely. Our younger children have made advances in their use of technology that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And things like curbside pick-up and remote services will continue well beyond 2020.
2. We don’t know everything, but we know more now
Healthcare providers are better educated and prepared than at the start of the year, schools have better established remote learning plans, and businesses have put continuity plans in place. There are still many uncertainties and we have a lot to learn, but we’ve come a really long way.
3. There is always something to be grateful for
While it’s not always easy to find, it’s there. For me, it’s the health of my family, the chance to slow down and spend some quality time with them, and a job that is both challenging and rewarding. And a plentiful supply of toilet paper.
4. Resiliency is real
Our worlds have been rocked this year and with new return-to-school and return-to-work policies in place, the old normal is looking like it may not come back anytime soon. But we can and will adjust to a new normal.
5. People are good and kind
OK, maybe not all. But the number of people who sacrificed their own safety for the wellbeing of others is overwhelming. Healthcare and other essential workers who were ill-prepared and uncertain put themselves in compromising positions to help others. This alone should give us hope that we are in this together.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
There’s no doubt these are difficult times and I think the best we can do is support each other, show empathy for one another, recognize the struggles we are each facing, and take each day and obstacle one at a time.