The events of 2020 have challenged us in ways we never could have imagined. But, as uncertainty engulfed us and terms like ‘social distancing’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘COVID’ became part of our daily vernacular, I also saw people and organisations working tirelessly, doing all that they could to make things better for others.


Here at CSBA, 2020 hit with full force right from the start. The summer bushfire crisis directly impacted many of our local government and utilities clients. Then, within a couple of weeks our higher education clients were among the first to be touched by the COVID-19 crisis, as Australia closed its borders to travellers from China.

It wasn’t long before COVID-19 impacted our own business, with a key member of our Leadership Team having to self quarantine after spending the summer in Wuhan province.

Within a matter of weeks the gravity and significance of what we were facing started to become apparent.

Now, as I look back on the early days of the crisis, it isn’t the shock or sense of uncertainty that comes to mind – it’s the resilience, sense of comradery and compassion it brought out in all of us that stands out.

While it’s an understatement to say that this first half of the year has been challenging for CSBA, it has been nowhere near as difficult or disastrous as I would have anticipated.

Like so many other businesses, we moved to remote working in mid-March. In the space of just a week the business had overcome most of the obstacles (some of which seemed insurmountable at the time) and was operating effectively.

While many would attribute our successful transformation to technology and systems – I don’t.

Technology has of course been integral to our success – but it’s our people who have made the transformation possible and more importantly it’s our people who made it a success.

As a business owner and leader, I couldn’t be prouder of our team. Their courage, drive, unwavering commitment and passion for helping our clients to be better for their customers and their communities, really is inspiring.

Four months on, as we all continue to work remotely, it is fair to say that in many ways the business is better for it…

Productivity has improved. We’re collaborating more and working better with one another. Internal communications have improved. People feel trusted and empowered.

When I look at the world around us and in particular at our clients, I see similar themes – people stepping up, ‘taking the bull by the horns’ and going above and beyond to make things work. Yet, when I turn on the TV or jump online, I see so much criticism and negativity directed at these organisations.

While I’m in no way suggesting that everything has been handled perfectly, I also appreciate the complexity of the environment we’re operating in. It concerns me that as a community we are focussing on the negatives and failing to appreciate and recognise the individuals who have worked tirelessly to do the absolute best they can to make things work as best they can under the circumstances.

Personally, I’ve seen the best parts of humanity shining through – genuine care, compassion and a drive to do all that we can to make this situation that little bit better for the person next to us.

In this first half of 2020 CSBA received close to 100 individual nominations for our Quarterly Agent Awards. Each and every one highlighting the admirable traits and actions displayed by the nominee – despite the many, many challenges thrown at them by the COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 is without a doubt the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced. The impact on public health, business and the economy has been devastating and will be felt for many years to come. But, in amongst the devastation, I also see a silver lining – people working together, doing all that they can to make things better for others. I think it’s important all of us stop and take a minute to recognise and celebrate this.

Paul Van Veenendaal | CSBA Managing Director

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