Posted on: November 12, 2020
Author: Amy Starchville, IACET Director of Operations
Managing the Operational Chaos: The Challenges of a Growing Organization During a Pandemic image

What do you get when you combine an office move, working virtually, and hiring and training new employees with a pandemic…CHAOS!

As the Director of Operations, I am fondly referred to as the Chaos Coordinator. In the past nine months, I am pretty sure I have earned this title. At the onset of the pandemic, as with most organizations, our offices closed, and our employees began to work remotely. We were thankful for this opportunity, but it certainly posed many challenges. We quickly shifted gears and planned for a virtual Board meeting rather than traveling to Florida. We were amid interviewing for open and new positions and began to conduct them virtually. We even hired and trained the employees remotely. As if this were not enough to manage, our lease was up at the shared office space and we were in search of a new place to call home.

The strategies I was using to cope with the stress and chaos were not working. I was feeling unproductive and overwhelmed. I soon realized that I was not in this alone. We had a new leader at the helm and an amazing team. I thought if I looked at the chaos and challenges differently, I might be more successful in managing the situation. Rather than seeing chaos as a negative force, I began to look at it in a more positive light.

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This shift in thinking allowed me to take advantage of the resources that were available to me. By communicating my concerns and asking for help, I was able to rely on our team to continue to move our projects forward.

In an article entitled “Real Leaders are Forged in Crisis” by N. Koehn of the Harvard Business Review, Koehn suggests that “Real leaders charge individuals to act in service of the broader community. They give people jobs to do.”  This is exactly what I needed to do to accomplish the tasks at hand. Having a more positive outlook helped me to see the amazing opportunities before me. In a time when many companies were cutting back, laying off employees, and even shutting down, IACET was fortunate enough to be flourishing. For an organization to make progress on strategic plan goals, expand its talent, and complete an office move while coping with a pandemic is amazing.

If you ever find yourself amid chaos, stop and try to shift your thinking to see that the chaos may be able to offer you some new opportunities to grow and thrive.

About the Author


As the Director of Operations, Amy is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations necessary to ensure that IACET achieves its strategic goals and objectives. She provides leadership, direction, and administration for IACET’s activities. Amy is responsible for the oversight of all meeting planning, financial tasks, and is the staff liaison to the Nominations and Elections Committee and the Awards Committee.

Prior to joining IACET, Amy had a 10-year long career as a social worker, specializing in family and child services. In 2000, she began her career working in the non-profit association space. Amy managed programs and projects in the areas of emergency medical services, emergency management, and healthcare.

Amy graduated from Assumption College with a B.A. in Social and Rehabilitation Services and earned a Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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