Serving in New York State’s Frontline Response Efforts Against COVID-19

Serving in New York State’s Frontline Response Efforts Against COVID-19

Simonida Subotic, a former principal, offers insights on her experience working in Governor Cuomo’s Crisis Task Force and the journey that brought her to lead emergency relief efforts in the epicenter of the outbreak.

As NY’s Deputy Secretary for Economic Development you have been a key contributor in the state’s efforts against COVID-19. What has your experience been? What is the most rewarding component of serving the public at such a critical time?

I was put on Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 Task Force as soon as it was formed and have worked on several different parts of the response, from ordering critical supplies and helping with mobile testing to planning the reopening of the state. On the one hand, I am so proud to showcase NY’s team and to point to what we are doing to help people and lead the broader fight. On the other hand, it has been tremendously stressful to deal with the realities of this outbreak and its impact on the lives of so many New Yorkers. That said, the most rewarding parts have been my initial selection and the subsequent opportunity to contribute.

As the world continues to operate in a state of unknowns, unsure of when this pandemic will end, do you have any advice for the BCG family during these times?

Yes. Endurance, adaptability, and hard work are qualities found in BCGers. We’ve always known how to adapt quickly and think about what’s ahead. In many ways, this is no different, except that there are no benchmarks or best-practice presentations before the case starts.

You’ve held numerous institutional positions at the World Bank and the United Nations, and you have progressed through the BCG ranks. How has your experience at BCG and beyond influenced you to pursue a career in the public sector?

I’ve always known I wanted to work in the public sector and BCG has been nothing but supportive in making that happen, both within and outside of the firm. My experience taught me that it really does not have to be, and should not be, so binary. For someone with my interests, I hope that my career continues to stretch across the public and private spheres for as long as possible. BCG was always good at allowing those people who did not want to be boxed in, like myself, to chart their own course.

What are some of your most valuable learnings and experiences acquired at BCG that you find yourself drawing from at your current role, especially in times of crisis?

I go back to discipline. More than any specific case or client, I always say that BCG taught me how to work and that is priceless especially in a time of crisis. Many of the examples I draw from are more discrete—structure, clarity within complexity, and direct communication, for example—but it turns out they matter so much when you find yourself “in the room where it all happens.”