Q&A: How Bethany Deshpande is turning challenges into opportunities.

Bethany Deshpande is the CEO of SomaDetect. She is a highly motivated, big-picture thinker who has more than a decade of experience in science and entrepreneurship and is always excited to tackle big problems in big ways. She told us about what’s next for her business as she adapts to the new economic landscape.

What area of your business has seen the most change since the beginning of the pandemic? 

We were always a distributed team with offices in Canada and the US; but with the pandemic everyone is working from home and it has been a big adjustment. We were lucky to have all of the technical infrastructure in place so that online work was completely possible. Even with this, we have definitely noticed changes in the team, how we work together, and how we’ve all adjusted to bringing our work into our homes over the last several months. 

What has been your biggest challenge in this process? 

In our company we create annual goals, and then break these into quarterly goals that we tackle one by one throughout the year. As a result of COVID, we had to let go of nearly all the Q2 goals that we had set. The biggest change for our company was caused by not being able to go on the farm to complete the fieldwork we had planned. This was a big switch for everyone in our company. In a business, you line up people, job descriptions, roles, and resources to be able to do certain tasks. When those tasks changed, several members of our team were asked to step up and take on tasks that didn’t necessarily match their job title or skill set. Everyone played a role in shepherding through the changes.

The pandemic gave me and our entire leadership team the opportunity to be totally clear about what our key priorities are.

How have you been staying connected with your customers and employees? 

We have been staying connected with customers and each other using the various online tools – Zoom, Slack, e-mail, all that. There’s no question that we miss face-to-face interaction. We miss handshakes, high-fives, and hugs, and we miss brainstorming together on a big whiteboard. However, we’ve also gained a lot with the shift to being completely remote and each working in our own homes. We share a lot of pet photos and moments that make it well worthwhile. We also have a number of folks on our team that are growing very exciting house plants or sharing their cooking with the group. We do regular hangouts where we play trivia and online games together – it is hilarious and fun. All this has helped us feel connected. 

How has the pandemic changed your approach to business planning?

The pandemic gave me and our entire leadership team the opportunity to be totally clear about what our key priorities are. I feel like everyone shifted to a total survival mode, and from that place it became crystal clear what we needed to do to have maximum Impact and be successful despite the challenges we were all living through, both personally and as a company. At the end of the day, I think it has helped us be more thoughtful and successful with our planning.

What keeps you positive? 

There is so much to be positive about! It’s really exciting to be working on new technology because it’s a little bit like watching magic be made and unfold directly before your eyes. On a daily basis, I get to see people do things that they have never done in ways that they’ve never done them before. it is absolutely wild and wonderful and impossible to do without feeling both grateful and astounded by the power of a team of people working together. Every week at SomaDetect is a gift full of surprise and wonder.