On September 13 2001, Penny Pullan was booked on a flight into New York City. A member of the new change team at Mars-Inc-owned ISI, she was supposed to be launching a global programme of business change. Of course, her plane never took off.
Two days before, four hijacked commercial airliners crashed into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon building in Washington DC and a strip of Pennsylvania farmland. With the 9/11 terror attacks, the world changed in an instant, flights were grounded and Pullan found herself needing to adapt rapidly to an entirely new way of working in order to see her project through.
“I’d never worked remotely before, other than occasional video conferences or phone calls with global colleagues,” reflects Pullan, who founded the Virtual Working Summit in 2010 and wrote the book Virtual Leadership. “In some ways it has echoes of what’s happened to companies today.”