by John Kugel
Aligning around a mission and clear focus as an organisation can be tricky at the best of times - let alone during a pandemic in which entire industries and ways of working have been turned on their head.
GuildLink is an Australian pharmacy technology company that, like many others, have adapted operationally to the remote working environment with offices and team collaborations spread across vast distances and multiple locations.
But they are also an organisation that realise that, especially in the face of change, realigning and refocusing as a team around what's important is critical.
In June 2021 the GuildLink team gathered in the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains National Park in NSW for a very significant offsite to work through the way forward in terms of powering their community and stakeholders in the better use of medicines - including programs to support pharmacies with COVID-19 vaccination rollouts.
The strategic offsite retreat in nature
Organised in collaboration with GuildLink CEO Arun Sharma and HR Business Partner Marina Israfil, Gone Bush tailor designed a three day retreat providing a balance of time for team strategic sessions and bonding experiences.
Commencing with a pickup of the team from both Sydney and Parramatta, the first day was spent acclimatising to the cool mountain air from the comfort of a scenic hotel conference room in the famous tourist town of Leura.
After a productive morning spent kicking off the retreat with internal sessions, the team enjoyed a delicious lunch in the hotel gardens before boarding the Gone Bush busses for an afternoon of adventure in nature - bush walking in the Blue Mountains National Park.
The guided experience kicked off with an Acknowledgement of Country and a silent walk out along Narrow Neck - a highly distinctive peninsular of elevated ancient sandstone separating the Jamison Valley and the Megalong Valley in the heart of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area. The silent walk served as a circuit breaker moment for the retreat while also tuning the group into their surroundings, their feelings and their shared context.
Joined by specialist leadership and team building facilitator Matt Wright, the GuildLink team were guided to connect, reflect and share ideas as they journeyed together on their epic afternoon stroll high above the iconic Jamison Valley and Blue Mountains landscape.
Matt guided the group in new ways of thinking and working more effectively together in a collaborative environment. Working through a series of questions and concepts with the group, Matt facilitated a deeper connection between team members while also giving them tools to be more effective in their collaborations in every day workplace situations.
Eventually, the beautiful afternoon walk came to an end and the sun set on the first day of GuildLink's retreat in the Blue Mountains.
Back at the hotel, the team regrouped for a delicious dinner and evening get-together followed by retiring to the privacy of their single rooms for the night - the retreat was off to a great start!
The second day was jam packed with productivity and collaboration with the team navigating internal sessions to refocus on priorities, key strategies and ways to better serve their stakeholders and fulfil their purpose and vision. Lots of ground was being made but there was still plenty to be ironed out. As the day turned into night, one more surprise awaited the group.
World famous Australian adventurer James Castrission suddenly appeared, surprising the team and delivered a cracking keynote presentation to inspire and motivate the group to think big, be resilient and stay positive in the face of adversity and challenge.
The intimate setting enabled everyone to personally connect with James's story as well as show their appreciation to him after the presentation. James received a standing ovation for his tales of adventure and exploration which were abundant in lessons about collaboration, strategy, teamwork, culture and resilience.
After eagerly posing for a group shot, a team member from GuildLink, Data Solution Architect Anup Kale summed up the impact of James's presentation by saying "There are three things you must do in life... 1. See the Taj Mahal, 2. See the Eiffel Tower; and 3. See this presentation!".
The group was buzzing and now they had an entire evening to enjoy each other's company and good spirits. A lovely dinner was taken in the hotel restaurant following the presentation which provided an opportunity for leaders to give recognition to their teams and foster a deeper sense of camaraderie as a group. The rest of the evening, the team bonding continued over a couple drinks and a chance to have some fun and celebrate together.
The third and final day of the retreat saw things slowly brought to a close with a final morning of internal sessions to wrap up on key actions and priorities for the team moving forward.
At last, the group checked out and boarded the Gone Bush busses for their return to civilisation with drop offs to Parramatta, Sydney and Sydney Domestic Airport. The team was officially reconnected, refocused and inspired to move forward with greater clarity around the vital work they are doing.
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