Leading through Unprecedented Times

Leading through Unprecedented Times by Judy Romano

Leaders Magazine Issue 1 April 2020

I grew up in Hungary under a socialist government. There were six of us in my family. We shared two bedrooms. My parents worked three jobs. Growing up in that type of environment ingrained in me the “find a solution” mindset.

Gabor Sipos & Gaborne (Judit) Sipos

My dad instilled in me a work ethic of never, giving up and being persistent. He was born in the occuppied territory which is now Ukraine. At age 15, he and his family of five escaped but were unable to bring anything with them. My dad was the oldest so immediately had to start working to help support the family.

My mum instilled in me a “get it done’ attitude. As a child her family went from living a life of privedge, to overnight with a change of government, a life of economic hardship.

She would say, “Judy…Hope is not a strategy.  Get It done.”

Gaborne (Judit) Sipos

My parents’ coaching has served me well throughout my leadership career. And what they taught me is especially relevant today in a time in history where there is global disruption.

I started my role as VP, CFO of Commercial & Technology at InterContinental Hotels Group
(IHG®) toward the beginning of the COVID-19 disruption. My second week on the job, I had
to reach out to all of my team members and communicate clearly my leadership style. It was important for them to understand that I was going to be a leader and a partner.

Fortunately, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) is a purpose driven company that cares about their employees and the community. In England, they partnered with
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and offered 300 hotel rooms for homeless persons to sleep in to help protect them from the corona virus.

Their commitment to all stakeholders allowed me as a new leader to immediately form an internal Woman in Finance Leadership Group even during a time when there are so many other distractions.

Technology has Minimized Disruption

Technology continues to play a key role in minimizing the disruptions as companies moved employees home and we all adapted to new norms.

As a Global Finance Executive who had teams all over the globe, I had years of experience to rely on managing teams remotely.  This experience has served me well as I continue settling into my new role.

Leading through unprecedented times requires unprecedented leadership. It is a balancing act between empathy, active listening, transparency, positivity, communication whilst continuing to deliver results.


Judy Romano
Judy Romano Big Thinks Managing Editor

Companies who had Flexible Working Policies in place in advance of the epidemic are adapting easier to the New Ways of Working. Maintaining productivity is important during these times but striking a work-life balance is equally important.

Judy Romano, VP, CFO Commercial & Technology at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) Tweet
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Actively listening to others elevates them and elevates your value as a professional. Collaboration, which begins with listening before talking, is essential for growing it forward. We have the brain trust to make great things happen in our careers, companies and society!

Tracy Levine, Forbes Coaches Council Tweet