Remote Work:
A Program Manager's Perspective

August 26, 2021

Inspired by Michael Jordan, powered by Zoom, and full of great ideas, our Program Manager Tony Dhaliwal shares some remote work tips with his customary good humour.


Hey Tony, my Zoom link doesn’t seem to be working…..

I’m sure many of you have received that frantic call or email saying “MY LINK DOESN’T WORK” and immediately your anxiety rises like the rate of EV adoption in Norway. I still sometimes wake up with a nightmare that I’ve forgotten to add individuals to an invite or send my reminder emails. I’m joking, I only cry on the inside, but being responsible for meetings where you have multiple stakeholders, companies or even your fellow co-workers, can be a lot to manage. 

I wrote a post on LinkedIn about a year ago regarding remote work and making sure your internet connection was strong, to share documents and video conferencing links beforehand, and more generally to be organized! I wrote that post as the world was in a pandemic induced lockdown and got a whole 27 likes - that was the last I touched Linkedin for awhile. Then bam - the pandemic changed the work world for so many, and we all had to adapt really quickly.

To be honest, Foresight was lucky, as we began working remotely a couple months before the pandemic struck and I felt we had a leg up as an organization on how to navigate a world where everybody was essentially working from home. I will dive into some of the tactics that have helped me immensely from virtual meetings and presentations to gatherings with small and large groups and how you too, can be an organizational guru. I’ll also talk about some of the platforms that have helped Foresight tremendously when it comes to organization.

Show off your best angles:

I’m a Program Manager at Foresight, which means I might as well have my personal Zoom link tattooed on my arm I use it so much. We all have introductory meetings and the most important thing to remember is to listen. This might be the first introduction a person has to your organization and first impressions are everything. My meetings are mostly all program driven, so clarity and pace are very important when explaining all the different layers of programming. Remember to smile and keep eye contact consistent with the screen and never make it like you're reading off a teleprompter, keep it organic and free flowing if you require notes. Don’t be shy to say things like “can I get back to you on that” and follow-up emails are always a great way to summarize the meeting and establish action items moving forward. 

While I love to rock a good ‘Blue Steel’ look at all hours of the work day, I recognize that it can be tiring to be ‘on’ all the time, so I try to schedule half my calls in the day over the phone. This helps to reduce eye strain and headaches, and gives you a nice change of scenery - I like to take some of my calls from the hammock in my backyard (Shhhh, don’t tell anybody, it will be our little secret). 

Discover the life changing magic of being organized:

I have a love and hate relationship with Copper (our CRM) and Wrike (our project management tool), but at the end of the day they keep us organized and efficient. If your organization doesn’t currently use a CRM and/or a project management software, I highly recommend them! We leverage Copper to manage contacts, companies, cohorts, onboarding etc. and Wrike easily organizes each of our cohorts, events, projects and everyday tasks. In our department we have so many touch points, and these tools allow us to manage our responsibilities in an uncomplicated, user friendly way. 

I moderate a wide variety of virtual presentations ranging from incoming companies presenting or current companies going through quarterly assessments. What I’ve learned is you can never send too many summary emails outlining key documents and links. I always try to put myself in other people's position to understand what they will require leading up to a meeting. I’m usually working with companies on one side, and Executives in Residence (EIRs) and mentors on the other, so emails and instructions need to be clear and concise. Having a template email folder which is populated and iterated on regularly will go a long way in managing the chaos. Foresight leverages Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for each department and they provide clarity on processes and when you’ve completely forgotten what to do in specific situations; it happens to me a lot. That reminds me, I should probably go update a few of those (and shhh, don’t tell my VP).

Be a Thief!

Steal best practices from your co-workers as much as you can. I’m a habitual thief, sorry, ‘learner of traits and skills’ because there are so many things you can add to your repertoire from others. We have such a diverse and skilled team at Foresight and I’m truly in awe of all the work we get accomplished. So don’t be afraid to try new things and fail because as Michael Jordan said “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Some important learnings to observe from your co-workers include; email structure, organizational techniques, facilitation tactics, and much more.

I hope you enjoyed my rant and took some pointers from it. Remember, don’t forget to smile and diversify your skillset and always, practice your ‘Blue Steel’ look when given the chance.