Arkadin is now operating as the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. Together we do great things

Meet our September winners: the North America Virtual Events Engineering team

In September, a whole team came into the ‘Go the Extra Mile’ spotlight, thanks to their incredible cohesive spirit. Johnny Perkins, Katie Baker, Heather West, Juan Rivera and Maddy Welk are the Virtual Events Engineering team for our North America region. Their impressive hard work, dedication and unique teamwork inspire others, as this sample citation for our ‘Extra Mile’ award makes clear: ‘I am so proud to see how far they’ve come and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them because it’s going to be epic!’

We’ve met with our five winners to learn a bit more about their work as a team.

Q. Can you tell us more about your roles?

You know that friend that seems to be good at everything? They’re smart, good-looking, they have their stuff together, and they always have the right joke to tell to light up the room. Yeah, that friend. That’s us.

Just kidding, but we really do have to wear a lot of hats! We’re project managers, we’re web designers, we’re technicians and engineers, and most of all, we’re problem-solvers. We’ve been called a ‘one-stop shop’ more than once. When people ask what we do, the easiest way to describe it is a conference like Comic-Con… but virtual. You have a virtual space with different ‘rooms’, multiple speakers giving presentations, you can store content for attendees to download, etc. Basically, we work with clients to set all of that up; everything from initial kick-off and brainstorming to weeks of planning and design to live-day execution to post-event content delivery, like attendance reports and recordings. It’s a lot of work and a lot of consulting. But we’ve gotten to take part in a lot of really cool projects.

Q. The Covid-19 crisis must have brought an unprecedented amount of work for the Virtual Events. How did you organize as a team to handle that?

Working from home has a lot of benefits like spending time with pets (of which we have a combined 13 between the five of us), breaking in new sweatpants, and a few minutes saved on commuting to cook breakfast. Even so, 2020 was rough. We were offering virtual communication during a time in which the world couldn’t communicate in person anymore. We were just as busy as you’d imagine, if not more. Getting up early, working late, usually on weekends too. Some days, the only thing that kept us sane was knowing the couch was waiting at the end of the week. And maybe a pizza delivery, too.

But even with the crazy hours we worked, and the stress both from work and the real world, and the mental numbness after days spent staring at spreadsheets and numbers and Photoshop… we stayed and succeeded thanks to each other as we knew that everyone else was working just as hard. We gave each other as much time and support as we could under an amazing leader that threw himself in the trenches just as often.

Q. It seems that your teamwork and your collaboration spirits are huge assets. Why do you think it’s important?

There are plenty of things that contribute to the success of a team. Some of those things would be initiative, communication, diversity, good leadership, and, truthfully, general chemistry. We’re all self-motivated, and we put in equal time and effort (and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, honestly) to build each other up and accomplish our shared goals.

But what makes us so special and collaborative is the friendships we’ve been able to form with each other. For example, we would all consider ourselves to be introverts, but we manage to get each other to come out of our shells and join Happy Hours and events that we might not have otherwise. We consider this team to be our colleagues, our friends, the inspiration to do and be better. And, especially over the last year and a half, we’ve given each other the strength needed to get through countless trials and tribulations. Even if that just means setting up a watch party on Netflix to decompress after a tough week.

Q. Your team cohesion is a group strength but how do you use everybody’s individual qualities in your daily work?

As much as we’re a team, we’re all very different people with different knowledge and talents. And that’s a big reason we’ve been so successful. We’ve always made sure to have a regular cadence. Whether it’s spent venting about something that went wrong that week or brainstorming ideas and solutions for the next week. It really feels like our specific strengths (and weaknesses) all serve to help each other grow, as well as develop our own abilities. We’ve been so lucky to be dropped into a think tank of like-minded, creative, intelligent individuals with just enough scepticism to question each other and our daily processes and fine-tune everything we do to be the best it can be. We have so much respect for each other that even our individual shortcomings have made us stronger as a team. No matter our differences, we all share the same dedication.

Q. What do you expect for the future with Virtual Events at NTT?

That’s hard to say! We can all agree that 2020 was one of the most difficult years. Not just in our careers here, but in general. We’ve learned a lot. How great food delivery is, how much we love books and movies (escapism, anyone?), and how much we can really miss our friends and family. But one of the most valuable lessons we’ve taken away is that not everything is guaranteed, even the things we thought we’d always have. That being said, we have to take advantage of every opportunity we’re given and do our best with the aspects we can control.

A global pandemic might have given us a lot of business for Virtual Events, and with businesses opening again, that might take some of it away. But what it can’t take away is the relationships we were able to form with new clients last year and all of the times we were able to blow them away with some awesome events. We know that we’re capable of some amazing things. We’re grateful to have been able to demonstrate that last year. And while we can’t be sure what a post-pandemic world looks like, we know what success looks like, and we’re excited to continue showing that to our clients, too.

About the author

Margot Legars joined the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. at the end of 2019 as Junior Internal & Employer Community Manager. After finishing a degree in communications and product management at Paul Valéry University (Montpellier, France) she spent six months in Dublin (Ireland) to expand her professional experience beyond France. She currently works in the Internal Communications team, led by Magali Dos Santos, which creates, organizes and runs international programs and communications, and develops the employer brand.

Together we do great things