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Organizational Adaptation

Davikaretsos summer2020dickinsonmagazine

by Tony Moore

When something like the COVID-19 pandemic strikes, everyone has to adapt—and quickly. For individuals, it comes down to social distancing, wearing face coverings and often just being smart about what you do and where you go. For businesses, though, the range of steps needed to ensure the safety of possibly thousands of employees and the satisfaction of customers is vast.

“One of the more significant changes we made was enabling 11,000 individuals to work from home in just a few short weeks,” says Mike Davi ’95, who is on the team that took on navigating the COVID situation for the IT, digital and security divisions at Anthem Healthcare. “Changes at any large company, especially a Fortune 50 organization, are generally slow to occur. We were able to act with the flexibility and nimbleness of a small business, because the mission was very clear and egos needed to take a back seat for us to be successful.” 

Spyro Karetsos ’96, TD Ameritrade’s chief risk officer, calls his team’s push to adapt a “monumental crossfunctional effort,” but one for which a risk officer might be uniquely prepared.

“I lead a team of risk, compliance and audit professionals who take great pride in preparing our company for both expected and unexpected events,” Karetsos says. “While we have a playbook for many scenarios, including a pandemic, we did not have a specific playbook for the perfect storm: global pandemic, stock markets with extreme volatility and sharp downward trajectory and record level of online trades, all amidst the backdrop of being acquired by Charles Schwab later this year.”    

Davi—in lockdown with wife Julie Salsitz Davi ’94 and daughters Ainslie ’22 and Lauren—worked alongside Stacia Strouss Grosso ’88, his manager, to get Anthem’s entire 100,000-employee population, overseas contractors and all, working remotely. Meanwhile, Karetsos launched TD Ameritrade’s command center, complete with a virtual war room for brainstorming and aggregating essential pandemic information in real time.  

“My ability to be comfortable with ambiguity stems from my time at Dickinson,” Karetsos says. “And as my company faces a myriad of risks requiring distinct subject matter expertise for each, I’m well positioned to cut across all of the risks horizontally to tell a portfolio-view story to critical stakeholders, including the board of directors.” 

Read more stories about how members of the Dickinson community near and far have responded to emerging needs and challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read additional alumni perspectives in the "Faces of the Fight" feature, part of the summer 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine

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Published August 17, 2020