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Taking Inspiration from Adversity

2020 will be remembered for its many challenges — be they personal, professional, local or global. Few were spared the impact of the ongoing pandemic and at Conduent, we felt that impact as well.  As CEO, when I look back on 2020, rather than dwell on what could have been had it been a “normal” year, I instead focus on the challenges we overcame as a team and what we can do to further improve for the future. Many aspects of life were — and will continue to be — different, but collectively, all of us have looked for ways to adjust and persevere. That must continue.

As 2020 tested our resolve and ability to work together, it highlighted the importance of our company culture. When times get tough, your culture is one of the mainstays to get you through — and that culture manifests itself in teamwork and leadership, which are critical for success at most anything. Those two principles set the tone for others to model and are brought about through open and honest communications and transparency within the organization. This creates a more trusting environment in which team members can succeed by identifying risks and opportunities, and tackling both with confidence, commitment and the right capabilities when overcoming adversity.

I saw much of this strong culture take hold within Conduent this past year, especially as we all faced unexpected challenges. Though we encountered many hurdles, I am proud that our team stayed focused on our transformation pillars of growth, efficiency and quality by putting our clients at the center of everything we do. While we made much progress during 2020, we know we have more hard work ahead of us as we continue our momentum in 2021. I am truly thankful to our nearly 65,000 associates globally for their commitment and dedication, and I am confident that they are up to the task. I am also grateful to our clients for believing in our team, and they can expect the same commitment to improved performance and reliability in 2021.  

Outside of Conduent, we also saw how leadership and teamwork led to resilience in the way companies, countries or individuals stepped up to overcome challenges in many ways — by applying past learning and reimagining new methods to solve the current problem.   

As a fan of leadership books and advice from many sources, a quote from former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell comes to mind as we try to take inspiration from the adversity in 2020. In one of his books on leadership Powell stated, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Looking toward 2021, we can’t assume it’s going to be better, but I’m counting on the leadership and teamwork at Conduent to meet adversity head on — not only applying what we learned this year, but also planning ahead, mitigating risk, and putting in the extra effort to ensure a better 2021 for us all.  

About the Author

Cliff Skelton, Conduent President & CEO: Cliff is driving Conduent’s strategy to deliver mission-critical services and solutions to global businesses and governments, creating exceptional outcomes for them and the millions of people they serve. As both CEO and a Member of the Board, he is focused on leading Conduent to growth and long-term success. Cliff has significant experience in large-scale operations and enterprise transformations, as well as deep knowledge of technology. He joined Conduent from Fiserv Corporation, where he most recently served as President of Fiserv Output Solutions, where he drove large-scale transformation of the company’s technology services, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of its technology platforms.

Profile Photo of Cliff Skelton