Name: Kal Irani
Title: Vice President, Go-to-Market Strategy, Stericycle
What you did before the pandemic:
In my role at Stericycle, I focus on the development of go-to-market strategies, including the execution of demand generation initiatives across the business to accelerate growth at scale for North America. Managing company-wide commercial transformation initiatives demands comprehensive levels of collaboration across the company and advanced levels of program management to drive action, accountability, decision making, and prioritization. As you can imagine, before the pandemic, this required extensive travel, in-person meetings and workshops between Canada and U.S. Or at least, we thought.
What you do now:
Admittedly, I was unsure how we would cope with the sudden shift to remote work, while finding ways to move our growth agenda and major projects forward. I could not have been more wrong in my initial assessment. Our teams demonstrated extraordinary levels of agility, flexibility, and willingness to adopt new modes of operating that not only helped us stay on track but also accelerated our projects well beyond expectations. It was truly inspiring to observe and be a part of, and it certainly induced a high sense of confidence in our abilities and our culture as an organization.
Is business better or worse for you since the start of the pandemic?
For me and my team, things have been progressively better since the start of the pandemic. We began to follow a few simple guidelines:
be flexible, be available, and be visible
intentionally prepare for meetings and thoughtfully manage the follow-up and follow-through
embrace shorter meetings.
These simple guidelines help us stay on track and connect us in meaningful ways. We still miss the human interaction you get when you physically go into the office like creative collaboration, impromptu whiteboarding for problem-solving, or the simple joys of randomly running into someone and grabbing a coffee to catch up. However, using a broad range of collaboration tools along with our willingness as a team to come together, we still manage to keep the human-connection strong.
Laptop, tablet phone or other: which do you use most?
It’s kind of funny – I use all three hardware forms in different ways. As we moved to work-from-home, I set up my home office with multiple screens, a docking station, and a speaker/microphone combo for handsfree communication, making my laptop the workhorse. This freed up my phone for urgent calls and text messages. I use my tablet to help facilitate brainstorming sessions using a variety of digital tools.
What device/app/platform that you currently use do you love?
My laptop and tablet – they’re always in sync!
What is your go-to OS:
For extreme productivity, I am all-in on the Windows 10 platform as a power user. I enjoy its cloud and multi-tasking capabilities.
Biggest productivity change since the pandemic:
My schedule has always been packed, but since the pandemic, having a packed schedule became more pronounced. Early on, I committed myself to practical advice I received from a mentor that focuses on being organized in two-week increments. Initially, the concept was not easy to apply, but now it’s the only advice I give team members who are still figuring out how to cope and improve their productivity since the pandemic.
I love learning and value self-growth, but during the early days of the pandemic, I lost a bit of that focus. During the summer, I found myself wanting to get back into that learning mindset. I began to schedule three hours a week dedicated to learning (reading studies/books/articles, tapping into my network through virtual coffees to learn best practices and exchange ideas, attending various webinars and virtual events, etc.). Scheduling this time has helped me get back on track, and I aim to continue with this practice!
Top 3 most used apps:
Lightroom (love photography), Apple News+, and Instagram!
Top 3 most used business apps:
Microsoft Office 365 suite (Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel, SharePoint), LinkedIn, Apple News+
What’s your zoom background:
My real home office with the backdrop of my newly acquired whiteboard!
Zoom background anxiety out of 10:
Favourite new WFH (work from home) app:
Microsoft Teams – it’s a powerful collaboration tool.
An app you have stopped using:
The Weather app.
What does managing data retention and protection look like during a pandemic?
A lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, most noticeably our work lifestyles. While the concept of work from home is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly launched employees into work-from-home, and in turn, has increased organizations’ risks of suffering a data breach. Now, typical risks such as unsecured home Wi-Fi networks, lost laptops, and confidential information potentially dumped in the garbage instead of a secure shredding console at the office are amplified with so many people working remotely.
At the start of the pandemic, many businesses quickly launched employees into work-from-home mode without understanding the implications to data security. Shred-it’s 2020 Data Protection Report (DPR) found that information security training and enforcement are lacking as almost a quarter (24%) of C-suite executives (C-suites), and more than half (54%) of small business owners (SBOs) have no regular training on information security procedures and policies.
The abrupt transition to remote work left many businesses underprepared, as the 2020 DPR discovered that only 41% of organizations have a policy in place for storing and disposing of confidential information when employees work off-site that is strictly adhered to. Worse yet, 45% of SBOs state no policy exists at all.
Working from home adds another location where data can be jeopardized. Risks can include potential mishandling of physical documents, such as the improper disposal of confidential information, visual theft, as well as digital threats such as an unsecure Wi-Fi connection. This is why it is important to have security procedures in place for both physical and digital documents, as well as secure storage and disposal policies in place, regardless of the employee’s work location. When working remotely, best practices around confidential information storage and disposal should include implementing a Clean Desk Policy and Remote Work Policy, as well as ensuring that your policies are up to date and that employees are trained on how information security protocols.
At Shred-it, we know that when security policy and training become part of an everyday routine for employees, the risk of a data breach can be reduced, even in stressful circumstances. There are a few ways organizations can protect their business from a data breach. Businesses can start by prioritizing data security in the workplace and reviewing and updating your organization’s information security policies on a regular basis. This includes both computer security measures (passwords, encryption, firewalls, anti-virus software, event monitoring tools, etc.) and physical security measures.
As part of our purpose to protect what matters, Shred-it, a Stericycle solution, is focused on making data protection easier by offering a suite of integrated services designed to protect your private information, including paper shredding, hard drive destruction, and workplace privacy policies.