Having recently returned to work from maternity leave, it has offered me a timely opportunity to personally reflect on the happenings of the past year.
Being a first-time mother has not come without a few challenges, especially when you throw in giving birth early in a global pandemic during New Zealand's first Covid-19 lockdown and a complete ankle reconstruction, resulting in an extended period of non-weight-bearing.
Challenges like these are enough to test even the strongest of individuals, but they also offer opportunities and a chance to gain a different perspective on things.
As an age-old saying goes: "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." For me, after the events of the last year, this saying underlines the importance of trying to reimagine challenges as opportunities and not getting too bogged down in overthinking factors that are outside of your control.
Everyone, regardless of whether you are an individual, business or an organisation involved in the implementation of a project or the delivery of a charitable service, has both an external and internal environment.
Your external environment is composed of factors that occur outside of yourself and the organisation, which can have implications for your internal environment but are beyond your control. The Covid-19 pandemic provides the perfect example of this.
For businesses and organisations, the pandemic has impacted factors in their external environment such as supply chains, markets/customers and the general stability of the economy, and they have very little control over when, how and even if these will return to "normal".
In responding to these changes, it has forced them to review and alter their internal environment in order to endure.
While there have been casualties as part of this process, there have also been pockets of success where people and businesses have reframed the challenges Covid-19 posed as opportunities - opportunities to positively restructure their internal environments, diversify and pursue new products/markets and reposition themselves and their offerings.
A good example is a group of tourism businesses in the Bay of Islands that came together to develop an initiative focused on retaining and upskilling their staff during the typically low-visitation winter season.
The Bay of Islands Marketing Group recognised that without any international visitors and a disruptive domestic supply, tourism operators in the Bay would struggle to operate and would have to make staff redundant.
In response to this challenge, with the support of central government, they took the opportunity to collectively invest in the training and upskilling of their staff during the "downtime" of the winter months and prepare them to become ambassadors for each other's offerings and experiences for future seasons.
As a result of this initiative, tourism in the Bay of Islands was preserved and they have just had a rather successful summer season. As borders reopen, the long-term benefit of this initiative will also enhance the visitor experience in general.
Even some of the conversations I have been involved in this week at work, as I transition back into my role, have further explored this notion of reimagining challenges as opportunities.
Examples include developing a domestic pipeline of work in the marine manufacturing sector as the international pipeline remains largely unknown due to border restrictions; using New Zealand's unique position as a "safe haven" to secure international events in years to come; or simply looking at how, based on current market demands, Northland can begin to communicate its culinary story and develop greater breadth in its offerings.
Without the challenges of the past year, this sort of thinking and the actions that follow may not have come to the forefront.
Taking on and responding to challenges provides opportunities for reflection, growth and development.
So, as we collectively board the bus towards economic recovery, let's not let challenges stand in our way, and instead welcome them as opportunities. This is the approach we here at Northland Inc are choosing to take.
• Codie McIntyre is a business analyst in the investment and infrastructure Team at Northland Inc.