When Maria Muller launched an ambitious initiative in January of 2020 to recruit 11 new members to her development team, the first phase of a larger team build, the future looked bright. Moffitt Cancer Center had a solid plan in place to double their fundraising in five years, and Muller’s strategic hiring plan included both front-line fundraisers and Development Operations roles to advance their goals.
And then Covid-19 hit and everything screeched to a halt—but only for a short time.
Muller and her team were back in motion after a quick regroup and they swiftly adapted to the new world of virtual interviewing, hiring, and onboarding. In doing so, they are positioning their team and Moffitt as industry leaders in facing forward into a digital future.
“It was clear that we needed to move ahead,” says Muller. “Hiring these new members was a critical part of the growth plan. Without the people, we could not reach our goals.”
While Muller had the advantage of meeting each person she eventually hired at least once before the nationwide stay-at-home orders were put in place, she acknowledged that she was prepared to hire people virtually if necessary.
“You need to be confident in your own judgement,” says Muller about choosing the best people for her team.
And although she was able to meet candidates in person, other members of her team were only able to meet candidates virtually. There were no day-long visits or tours of the Cancer Center, and no coffees or lunches to help candidates and staff get to know one another.
“The one thing that is hard to do is to convey what the culture is here,” says Muller. “On Zoom, you have to be very intentional about incorporating ways that demonstrate who you are as a team.”
Maria Muller, EVP and Chief Development Officer,
Moffitt Cancer Center
Into the Future
Looking ahead, Muller reflects on what she has learned from this process, calling it “enlightening.” She has come to look for skills that are relevant in this new virtual world, particularly a comfort level using the Zoom platform. And she says the experience has changed her thinking about working remotely.
“My confidence grew in the team’s ability to get the job done in a way that before this experience, I might have doubted that we could be as productive if not working together,” she says. “I’ve challenged my established thinking about how teams can work.”
What advice does Muller have for other development leaders as they face what’s next in this new virtual world? Look for new possibilities, she urges. Don’t be deterred by what is no longer possible.
“This is an opportunity to rethink how we work now and in the future,” she says. “It was forced upon us, but it has produced some valuable lessons and opportunities to experiment. We have to think about how to preserve the good.”