26 Takeaways of 2020 According to Industry Leaders

‘Adversity shows a man to himself’ – Albert Einstein

This year, we all faced adversity in many guises, and leaders were put to the test when met with challenges unlike the more predictable hurdles that come with leading a team. This year left us asking, what matters the most? What is in store for the traditional workplace? But above all, what have we learnt?

While this year may not be one to dwell on, it need not be wasted. Each of us has gleaned something different from 2020, to help us become better people and leaders next year.

So, to mark the end of 2020, we asked professional services industry leaders to share some of the key things they learnt from this year.


Andrew Yearsley, Chief Technology Officer, Bishop Fleming

“People can get the tech to work when they need to!”


Karl Chapman, Chief Executive Officer of Riverview Law

“Family, friends and community are even more important than we all knew they were.”


Philip Woodgate, Partner at Goodman Jones LLP

“Working from home works (mostly).”


James Pellatt, Director of Workplace and Innovation at Great Portland Estate

“The world is in even more need of quiet facts rather than noisy opinions than ever before.”


Rachel Skells, Partner at Whittles

“How adaptable both our staff and clients have proved to be and how resilient they are.”


Chris Wilkinson, Partner at Maples Teesdale

““The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley” while, at the same time, things generally don’t end up being as bad as we allow ourselves to think they might be.”


Zahid Hussein, Managing Director at ZGRP

“Don’t expect the status quo – don’t take anything for granted.”


Edward O’Rourke, CEO and Partner at Ashtons

“John Kotter is right! There is nothing like a sense of urgency to stimulate change.  Technology and behaviours I have been spending months, if not years, trying to persuade all in our business to adopt were suddenly picked up overnight.  Better still, all have realised that their fears (excuses) that were used to stall adoption previously have not materialised.”


Richard Kleiner, Managing Partner and CEO at Gerald Edelman

“The ability to work from home and see all my colleagues do the same in a relatively successful fashion.”


Ian Carlson, Managing Director at Old Mill

“Change is actually much easier than many people think, and you really can move a long way very quickly when they absolutely have to – necessity truly is the mother of all invention.”


Joanna Kingston-Davies, COO at Jackson Lees Group

“Life is a journey – there will always be plenty of bumps in the road and we all just need to roll with it, enjoy the ups and downs and constantly adapt as best we can!”


Lisa Leighton, Partner at BHP Chartered Accountants

“We survived and it is the year in my career where I have learnt so much and have been pushed way out of my comfort zone.”


Maurus Schreyvogel, Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Novartis

“I have never felt more closely connected to the members of my (global) team. We enjoyed the extra time that we invested in getting to know each other better.”


Chris Madden, IT Director at Kreston Reeves

“Planning for the unexpected and building in flexibility does pay off, no one thought a pandemic would happen yet many businesses were able to transition to 100%  home working within days due to great IT system designs.”


Sam Moore, Innovation Manager at Burness Paull

“Innovation is often business-critical, but many lawyers and law firm leaders didn’t understand that until the pandemic. Hopefully, now more people are aware of the need to continuously innovate and be as lean as possible because you never know what challenge is around the corner.”


Steve Dalgleish, Head of Technology at Shepherd and Wedderburn

“Rapid change is possible and even desirable in the legal environment.  A close second is what a team can achieve in a short timeframe when it is pulling in the same direction.”


Rickard Warnelid, Partner at Mazars

“The incredibly rapid shift and acceptance of remote working. It is clear that we have cracked productivity, but the jury is still out on engagement.”


Helen Archibald, Chief Operating Officer at Thorntons Law LLP

“To avoid answering questions about predicting the future!”


Isla Mayfield, Business Advisory Senior Operations Manager at Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP

“Enjoy the small things and don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control.”


Richard Thompson, Senior Legal Counsel at SimplyHealth

“The office as we knew it is finished for most businesses.  Now, more than ever, we are completely dependent on technology and the internet to be able to work.”


Paul Longhurst, Consultant and Owner at 3Kites

“We shouldn’t take anything for granted.”


Amy Brookbanks, Head of Legal Operations, Ocado

“PEOPLE!  The welfare of your workforce is a priority, in terms of i) physical and mental health, ii) having the right equipment and setup to work effectively, and iii) being allowed flexibility.  All three of these elements need to be present in order to have a productive workforce.”


Anthony Stables, CIO at Forsters

“Never underestimate the variable speeds of home wifi”


Dan Mitchell, Head of IT at Clarion Solicitors

“Expect the unexpected and be prepared!”


Attilio Morosini, IT Director at Chestertons

“The stereotypical manager has always been suspicious of the productivity gains from working from home.  Now that they to have had to work from home they have a better idea of its benefits and some of its challenges.”


 Jonny Woodward, IT Director at PKF Francis Clark

“We can work well remotely but there are still a few processes that are better carried out in a more physically social environment.”

For more insights from thought leaders in the professional services sector, explore our Alternative Hangouts archives to hear from experts in accountancy, in-house legal, tech, legal IT and legal management.