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Speed Meeting Global Colleagues

In a year with very little business travel, CSL employees found a way to meet across the miles.

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Kelli Klee, Senior Talent Development Specialist, reacts after getting randomly matched with CSL Limited CEO Paul Perreault during a virtual networking session.
Kelli Klee, Senior Talent Development Specialist, reacts after getting randomly matched with CSL Limited CEO Paul Perreault during a virtual networking session.

Working for a global company means having coworkers around the world and often getting a chance to meet each other in person.


But not during the global pandemic. With the move to virtual meetings and conferences, employees have missed out on the in-person experience and the opportunity to build relationships with other employees around the globe.


To bridge this gap, during CSL’s recent week-long Development Days event, the company’s employees were invited to join “Speed Networking” sessions. Participants were randomly paired for five-minute conversations with coworkers in 15 countries.


In short order, 1,727 quick meetings happened, including one that Kelli Klee, Senior Talent Development Specialist was not expecting.


“My manager told us that our CEO and Managing Director, Paul Perreault would be attending a few of the speed networking sessions. But given the number of participants, the likelihood was low that we would have the opportunity to be paired with him,” said Klee. “I felt so fortunate when I joined a session and saw Paul’s face appear on the screen.


Klee explained, “Back in the early 2000s and prior to Paul’s appointment to CEO, I sat outside his office for a brief period as I worked on a special project. He remembered me and asked what projects I was working on.” 


Perreault said he enjoyed the speed networking experience and listed it among many steps the company has taken to keep people connected during the global pandemic.


“I was talking to scientists, to sales people, to my colleagues – communication is key,” he told an interviewer during a keynote session at the April 7 Patients As Partners Conference.”


Ainslee Minihan, Senior Legal Counsel of Operations for Australia, agreed.


“The beauty of speed networking is that you can meet not only colleagues from overseas but also those on your site in other buildings as well as other sites within your country. I met colleagues in Bio21, who I wouldn’t ordinarily work with, and another colleague in the Seqirus business who had also been working on the CSL451 program (CSL/UQ vaccine),” said Minihan. “In an environment where we can't travel, I feel like I have a connection with them, and the connectivity to the business increases.”


Meanwhile, John Fudala, Chief of Staff to the CEO, said that he and his speed networking partner found that five minutes wasn’t long enough. So they extended it another five minutes then set up a virtual coffee.


“When I get a chance to speak to a newer associate, I come away with how they feel about the company’s culture, values and mission, and their early takeaways from that. I also like hearing people's career paths and drawing some parallel in their career or experience back to what I’ve done or seen or wish to do in the future. There’s value in that for me,” said Fudala. “Speed networking is a great innovation that we brought during a difficult time.”