Adapting to Change and Challenges during COVID-19

This guest blog is by Anna Dailey, COL ’19

Anna Dailey, COL ’19

During my tenure at Penn, I was taught the importance of problem-solving in the face of complex challenges. Shortly after graduating in 2019, I moved New York City to start my job as an Innovation Consultant. I began traveling every week to client sites and immersing myself into research about business models and the trends that will shift how organizations need to be thinking. In our ever-changing world, organizations must remain forward-thinking, innovative and flexible in order to adapt.  I learned that, to maintain a position as a market leader and cut through the noise, an organization must look at each problem from every angle and be prepared for unexpected changes to affect the course of its decision making.

The world came to a halt with the rise of COVID-19. Projects were put on hold and reexamined as the needs of our clients immediately shifted to maintaining business continuity amidst COVID-19. We began planning for a contactless new normal—a world of eCommerce, de-globalized supply chains, and bolstered risk management. Our focus has turned to the imperative need, not just trend, to deploy cutting edge technology and create solutions for a fully virtual new normal.

When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, I travelled back home to sunny California to quarantine with my family. Though it was mildly disorienting and strange to be uprooted so suddenly, I became acutely aware of the luxury of being able to perform my regular job over Zoom in pajamas rather than in our Manhattan office. I am fortunate enough that the basic framework of my daily life went on, in many ways, uninterrupted. Clearly, I am afforded this luxury by a certain amount of privilege, which a majority of global citizens do not possess. Individuals around the world are suffering from tragic health consequences of the virus and the effects of a suppressed economy, resulting in job losses, debt, and financial peril. I recognized quickly that my experience paled in comparison to what others were facing and feelings of helplessness and guilt quickly took hold.

As I reflected on the magnitude of the global consequences posed by COVID-19 and its aftermath, I knew I needed to find a way to do my part, however small, to help. When I was connected with the founder of Perfect Strangers through a Penn Entrepreneurship listserve, I knew this was the opportunity I was looking for.

Perfect Strangers is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes volunteers to deliver essential supplies to the elderly, immunocompromised, front line workers and other communities at risk for contracting COVID-19. Its volunteer-driven model led by two young women was meeting a real need, and I jumped at the opportunity to join as the Regional Lead for Silicon Valley. Using the analytical and problem-solving skills I gained from the Penn Engineering Entrepreneurship program combined with the frameworks, tools and knowledge I’ve accumulated over my first year as a consultant, I have helped strategically guide the ramp up of Perfect Strangers in my region and innovate solutions to the issues facing local at-risk communities. As Regional Lead, I have also been able to apply my client management and communication skills to bridge key partnerships to scale Perfect Strangers in the Silicon Valley area.

In only a few months, Perfect Strangers has made a tremendous impact on at-risk communities across the country, galvanizing thousands of volunteers in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. We’re proud to have the support of leading pro-bono partners such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Kirkland and Ellis, Skadden, Mayer Brown, WPP, and others. We’ve also been fortunate to have our efforts covered in Good Morning America, Axios, Boston Business Journal, SFGate, among other publications.

If you are interested in volunteering or interning with our organization this summer we have a variety of roles on our Deliveries, Customer Support, Strategy and Operations, Digital and Social, Communications, and Field Ops teams. Job Descriptions for these roles can be found on Handshake and you can apply at weareperfectstrangers.org/volunteer. I am more than happy to hop on a call with any Penn student who is interested in hearing more. To make a donation, bridge a helpful introduction, or hear more, please reach out to me at anna@weareperfectstrangers.org.

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