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Perspective

Perseverance: Preparing for Both the Expected and the Unexpected

It became obvious early this year that the economic tides had shifted, and we were heading into a recessionary period. Many economic experts continued to debate throughout the year whether a recession was looming on the horizon, already here, or not going to happen. They even debated the applicability of conventionally used measures to define a recession. And then the discussion moved to whether the recession would subside in a hard or soft landing. To this day, I struggle to understand what constitutes each. From my standpoint, a regression in the economy is a hard landing.

We Chose Not to Participate in a Recession

As the threats of a recession became more pronounced, I boldly declared at Integrated Project Management’s all-hands Annual Plan meeting in February that we would “not participate in the recession.” These words were not spoken out of ignorance, a lack of acceptance of the reality and challenges of the situation, nor wishful thinking. My statement was based upon my deep understanding of our organizational capabilities, reputation, and financial strength, plus the investments we made in business development and marketing.

Throughout the year, IPM’s executive team and I continued to assess our decisions and actions to stem the tides and rise above the challenges. No doubt, clients and prospective clients slowed and, in some cases, totally suspended spending on projects. Some major accounts announced layoffs of their own resources. While the reality of these actions and resulting impacts were acknowledged, I maintained a strong optimism that we could rise above the losses and regenerate the volume. This confidence was driven by an understanding of our markets and the minuscule percentage that we would have to capture to not only sustain but grow.

Investing in Ourselves

As we know, the headwinds persisted and became even more intense. Client and prospective client decisions became more protracted. Nonetheless, we maintained our offensive strategy and intensified business development efforts. We focused our “bench” resources on important internal initiatives, allowing us to accelerate progress on the initiatives. We invested in ourselves and our future. At no time did we divert efforts to a defensive game plan, which would have included personnel layoffs.

Our plan began to positively impact the second-half sales pipeline, and we had the resources available to support new projects as they were approved. The positive trend has sustained.

Assessing Our Situation

In business as in life, it is most important to be prepared for both the expected and unexpected. We will continue to set our bar high and not be deterred by the occasions that cause us to fall short, as long as we remain true to Our Fundamental Values and can honestly say we fully applied our talents to achieve the desired outcomes. Do I believe we applied our talents and resources aptly to control what we could? The answer is a resounding yes. We preserved the livelihood of all our IPM family members, and we’ve retained a strong financial footing. We are well-positioned to grow. Never did I question our ability to persevere, thanks to IPM’s values-driven, self-motivated, and highly skilled family members—our most important assets.

Lessons for the Future

We believe that navigating challenging times requires proactive leadership, prudent financial planning that includes low debt and reserves, strategic adaptability, and a balance between optimism and realism. It’s crucial to invest in our organization and value our people; this is most pronounced during downturns when their job security is preserved. Adhering to our core values, especially under pressure, ensures integrity and resilience and strengthens our employees’ allegiance. Embracing both successes and setbacks as learning opportunities fosters continuous growth and improvement.

Through this approach, we executives can effectively guide our teams and businesses through any unforeseen challenges, remaining steadfast in our commitment to excellence and enduring success.

November 29, 2023

Author

  • C. Richard Panico
    President and CEO
    Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
    LinkedIn Profile

    C. Richard Panico founded Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. in 1988 and has served as president and CEO ever since. An active advocate of values-based culture and meticulous quality, Rich has been recognized by DePaul University’s Institute for Business and Professional Ethics and the University of Chicago’s Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame, among others.

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Author

  • C. Richard Panico
    President and CEO
    Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
    LinkedIn Profile

    C. Richard Panico founded Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. in 1988 and has served as president and CEO ever since. An active advocate of values-based culture and meticulous quality, Rich has been recognized by DePaul University’s Institute for Business and Professional Ethics and the University of Chicago’s Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame, among others.

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