Under par and counting my blessings

It is hard to believe that we are approaching a year since the first lockdown due to the pandemic. In many ways it has felt like forever and in other ways it has flown by – a year of working from home, looking out the window of my home office and still scratching my head and wondering if this is just a dream.

Many of my friends and colleagues have shared with me that this feels never ending, but my uncharacteristically non-Scottish and optimistic reckoning, I truly believe that we are more than 90 percent through the worst of it and will soon be able to meet again.

For me, work has been a welcome area of focus. I lead PwC’s Oracle practice in the UK and EMEA – and even as early as April last year, I realised just how much I loved my team, my colleagues and my clients and craved for the ability to jump on a plane from Glasgow on the spur of the moment to attend a meeting, dinner or event.  I have missed the energy we create when we meet in person. For many of us, the joy has been taken away from our daily lives – something that we took for granted, that has been replaced by routine – endless Zoom calls – video on, video off. Walking and talking. But never meeting in person.

Recently we hosted the Oracle ERP Summit with clients using virtual reality technology. Now this was really cool – something really different. We hosted 24 guests from our clients and Oracle using VR headsets – and I have to say having been sceptical on the effectiveness of this format, it was a roaring success. Break out rooms, trips to the beach, the bar, the auditorium and watching keynotes on the big screen on the future of finance – it was such a welcome change and perhaps a way of running more events in the future – in a hybrid model. It was fun – but definitely not as fun as meeting in person, whether it be in the office, on a boat in London or in the US at Oracle OpenWorld.

“I know I’ve had it easier than most but a lower handicap has been a highlight”

Outside of work, one positive thing from the pandemic has been that I have been able to play golf three times a week for the first time in my life. And last month was my first ever sub-par round. My regular golf buddies of course reminded me that I was playing a shortened course and putting on winter greens, but it was an achievement nonetheless as I have been a hacker for over 20 years.

Throughout lockdown, I’ve tried to do something I love every day, as well as trying to keep things going on all fronts. I’m not going to deny, it’s been tough. I know I’ve had it easier than most but a lower handicap has been a highlight. I’ve been inspired by my colleagues to hear what they have done to keep themselves sane and keep up their spirits. This article will be published on 10th March and it’s likely that we will still be restricted in our movement. But, the vaccine roll-out has improved and is now running like a better ERP roll-out after some earlier teething problems!

But I think the hard yards are over and before long we will be back on the road, so hang on in there folks – Summer 2021 will be the time that humans bounce back and we will meet again soon!     

Robin McBurnie, senior partner and UK Oracle leader, PwC