On 24 September 2020, Brigadier General Stéphane Gourg took over the position of Chief of Staff EATC. Today he looks back at his first months in office in these exceptional times where the pandemic rules the daily working life.
General Gourg, you are responsible to lead EATC’s staff through these difficult COVID-19 times. How critical is the role of a chief of staff (COS) when a pandemic crushes down on the world?
In the COVID-19 context, everyone has a critical role to play, from the leadership to the individual level. Let me outline the role of the COS in particular.
In the evolving context of the pandemic, the COS is obviously responsible for setting the rules and the pace within the organisation. The objective is to ensure the health of everyone and at the same time to guarantee that EATC remains operational.
EATC being multinational, the management of COVID-19 is unique. The basic principle is to apply, as a minimum, the rules of the host nation, but it not that simple. There are cultural sensitivities and even national requirements. Preserving the integrity of EATC by converging on common rules is the key. The seven senior national representatives - who are of great value - are on the same line. Together, we are succeeding!
What are your challenges to minimize the impact of the epidemic on your organisation and employees?
I identify three challenges.
First of all, ensuring 24/7 operational capability:
EATC is first and foremost an integral part of the national air command and control structures. The internal procedures we put in place for COVID-19 allowed us to contain contamination cases. This is essential and is our primary challenge.
EATC was initially configured to work in a secure and sedentary digital environment. Today we have to adapt our systems and find ad-hoc solutions for remote work. We are still working on this with the host nation to progress to the best of our capabilities.
And finally, finding the right balance between teleworking and teamwork :
EATC is all about pooling&sharing in an international environment. The quality of exchanges and mutual understanding are keys to deliver. Through our experience of teleworking, we now measure how much body language counts in communication and that physical meetings are sometimes indispensable.
What is EATC to you in only five words?
Smart and effective air cooperation!