Tuesday, August 11, 2020

atsec's 20 Year Anniversary

It was the beginning of January when I first heard about the new virus causing severe flu-like symptoms, such as upper respiratory infection, spreading throughout China.  I started to worry about our China team.

Nevertheless, we continued to plan for the global celebration of atsec’s  20th anniversary, assuming the virus would go away by Spring.

By the Chinese New Year at the end of January, China had issued a stay-home order and forced a complete lockdown of the city of Wuhan. It was clear that we were dealing with something much more significant than the flu. The word pandemic, almost unheard-of until that time, entered our commonly spoken vocabulary.

Slowly, but inexorably, it became clear that all of our plans for the 20th anniversary celebration would need to be postponed. By the end of February, we canceled all of our participation in conferences and customer visits around the world.

In February, as the pandemic evolved and we learned more about the COVID-19 virus, I asked Yan Liu, head of atsec’s China operation, to write a blog about the experience of the team in China, which can be viewed at the link below:

At that time, most of the world was still relatively "safe." By the end of February, Italy, where atsec has an operation in Rome, was experiencing the second-worst outbreak of COVID-19, after China. Slowly thereafter Germany was affected, and also Sweden.

By mid-March, I requested that the Austin team begin to work from home. One or two colleagues were as worried as I was, but the majority still thought it was an excessive measure. Austin, and Texas overall, was still mostly unaffected. The rate of infection was very low, with only one person reported as positive.

Learning first from the experience in China, and then Italy, I decided to take an overly-cautious approach.

As we all sheltered and worked at home, we did not want to travel to celebrate atsec’s 20th anniversary, as planned for the end of July to the middle of August. Instead, we chose a day a month before the first planned event in Europe, which coincided with one of our dear colleague's birthday on June 29th.
At 8:00 am CDT on June 29th, we kicked off atsec’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Each operation introduced our colleagues at that location. The most emotional part of the whole event was seeing everyone’s faces and hearing everyone's voices.  Meeting face to face would have been a completely different experience, but meeting everybody virtually was equally moving.
The meeting ended with a clip available on our media folder at our web site:

I want to thank everybody who has participated in growing atsec into what it is today. I would like to thank everyone who is presently with atsec, and also many colleagues who worked at atsec in the past. Each one has contributed, in their own way, to the incredible success story of atsec. Finally, pictured here are some of the gifts and items shared during that day.

Though not quite the same as being together in person, it was close enough to feel and share our global celebration.

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