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2020 in hindsight: CEOs reflect on a year of challenges, unexpected opportunities

CEOs reflect on unprecedented challenges, opportunities


Dec. 11, 2020

It was a year of mass deaths and job loss, a year no one will mourn. One in which some industries thrived while others were devastated as a global pandemic spread with terrifying speed.

But 2020 also was marked by the development of promising vaccines, and by the realization among many associations that they could adapt, innovate and even capitalize on trends spurred by the need for social distancing.

And during months-long protests and violence sparked by police killings of African Americans, a new awareness of the need for racial equity and inclusion emerged. Associations responded with strong statements of support, some even mainstreaming #BlackLivesMatter. Many followed words with actions, hiring dedicated staff to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in their industries and in their own workforces.

Finally, an ugly and frankly bizarre political season appears to be winding to a conclusion acceptable to business, with the clear electoral victory of a new candidate for the presidency. The administration Joe Biden has begun to assemble is winning plaudits from trade group CEOs for competence and predictability.

CEO Update asked a dozen CEOs to reflect on the best and the worst developments of the year, and on the challenges, surprises and lessons learned they will carry forward into 2021. Here are excerpts from their responses: 

Tom Bohn
Association for Corporate Growth
Worst thing that happened: For ACG, a group that has over 1,200 live meetings per year across its nearly 60 chapters, our business model essentially shut down overnight, forcing us to rethink nearly every aspect of the association.

Best thing that happened: As a result of the pandemic, the organization is coming together like never before, embracing the unifying effort of our OneACG plan and even going so far as to roll chapters into the national organization in a very creative and bold plan.