Company events have become creative in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some have gone completely virtual, others keep guests in their cars for drive-through experiences while a handful have simply adjusted for smaller sizes with careful planning. An American medical technology company headquartered in Irvine faced this decision on whether to cancel, go online or change their approach when it came to their leadership retreat.
August 2020 felt like an entire decade of global issues sat on the shoulders of business owners and leaders everywhere. COVID-19 held everyone hostage indoors while election year politics slung punches and racial issues worked to divide families, friends, and teams everywhere. This was a year where leadership needed to pull together and respectfully approach issues with a united front. With most social activities having been cancelled or postponed all year, this American company specializing in artificial heart valves knew it could not put off this leadership retreat any longer. They had to get their 10-12 major leaders together to work on the heart of the problem.
The leadership retreat began at the Pasea Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach where two days of business were addressed. Chairs were spaced out, but these leaders were more together than ever! They addressed important issues facing their company, the pandemic, and more. Every company’s heartbeat starts with their leaders, something this Irvine valve company knows well.
After their business meeting was complete, the employee spouses were invited to join them for dinner. Something once so common place felt like a special treat that August. Laughter filled their hearts while good food filled their stomachs. To finish off the day, leaders and their spouses were shuttled to the beach to watch the sunset around a bonfire. Beach chairs were spaced 6 feet apart around a fire pit. Between tiki torches licked the darkening sky. Blankets, coffee, and the warmth of the fire were great company as well. Toes in the sand, couples hand-in-hand watched as the Southern California sun sunk into the rolling ocean.
It was a sweet ending to an important day. For dessert, a fruit display added to the tropical feel. Chocolate covered strawberries added to the romantic memory of times past while a separate portable fire pit was set with hot coals for s’mores. Warm donut holes with variety of sauces were passed around, but the real treat was the decision to get together under the Southern California sky. The memories are something we will all savior for years to come.