All of us are locked down somewhere in the world.
As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic handcuffs nations and borders, I'm serving my sentence in Melbourne. All this while, I've been receiving and exchanging stories of lockdown with friends from all over. I spoke previously with Ricardo Marek who leads the Growth & Emerging Markets Business Unit (GEM BU) of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd
The COVID-19 Lockdown Series is a cumulation of stories shared with Affluent Society by its members, members of Platinum Circle and invited guests.
Cristina Vigilante is an American Expat living in Singapore. She leads sales and industry practices as Managing Director for Marsh, a prominent advisory firm in the risk management and insurance industry. The path that lead her to Singapore was a background in corporate sales and global role based out of New York where she worked closely with business leaders in her company in Asia. In her free time she enjoys learning more about the various countries across Asia, experiencing cultures, art, music and food and is an accomplished classical musician.
Affluent Society (AS) spoke to her about her experience with the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore.
AS: What is the lockdown like in Singapore?
I am based in Singapore, where we went into what is referred to as “circuit breaker” measures on April 7th. This was initially set to last through the 4th of May and was later extended to June 1st. Following which, we have begun to move out of the circuit breaker in phases, while the government has gradually allowed businesses of specific types to reopen in a measured way with safe distancing and hygiene precautions.
Generally speaking, during the circuit breaker, life has been quiet with a lot of time at home, cooking, reading and spending time exploring new hobbies and passions. The general sentiments in Singapore are that the government is doing an excellent job implementing policies and procedures to keep people safe and healthy and to find a way to work through this unprecedented challenge. People in Singapore are united around defeating COVID-19 and finding ways to work creatively together to spur the economy, and life in general, forward.
AS: What challenges did you face when the lockdown started?
My life prior to COVID-19 included a great deal of travel and social events, which were things that I really loved. That all changed once we went into to the circuit breaker. I think it is always a challenge to adapt to new rhythms, routines and ways of working and socializing. Perhaps things that previously made you feel productive or purposeful fundamentally have shifted or changed. So finding new ways to work, maintain relationships, stay connected with family and friends and feel purposeful in how you are spending your time were the key challenges that had to be met. But with all things, we have to adapt, the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can find a positive path to a new normal.
AS: How are you coping with the lockdown?
Our world today is in a constant state of change and change will continue to happen at an accelerated pace into the future. As I imagine many people experiencing the same feelings right now. For me, I’ve had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is to say, accepting that our normal routines and patterns are disrupted, and focusing on using our time in a productive and purposeful way. I’ve been surprised by how quickly I was able to pivot my routines and use technology and creativity to stay connected to the things and people that I care about.
AS: Anything positive came out of staying and working from home?
For me this has been an inflection point and a great moment of reflection. I’ve spent time reflecting on what is really important to me, how do I want to prioritize my time and who are the people in my life that are really important to stay connected with. Through all of this, I’ve been really touched by the displays of humanity and thoughtfulness that I have seen from friends, co-workers and strangers. For example, people reaching out to check and make sure others are okay, little thoughtful notions people send digitally, and so many organizations rallying around their employees and caring for their well-being. It is really encouraging to know in time of great challenge, it can bring out the best in people.
AS: What's happening to return to normalcy
As mentioned, I’ve seen governments and organizations largely taking a steady, measured and phased approach to return to work and greater normalcy to ensure the safety and protection of the people. Things are reopening in phases and results are being careful monitored and strategies adapted / optimized as we go along. While it is imperative that the global economy get back on track, I think many people appreciate the importance governments and organizations are placing on the health and safety of their people.
Next up: We speak with Mohamed Nasser Hamdan Alzaabi about his COVID-19 lockdown experience in United Arab Emirates.
The COVID-19 Lockdown Series is brought to you by the Partners of Affluent Society including Cellarmaster Wines, the leading wine distributor and exclusive distributor with the largest collection of RIEDEL glassware in Singapore.