A couple of months ago, if someone said that an unforeseen global challenge will bring industries and the world economy to a grinding halt, it would have been scarcely believable. But right now, enterprises across the world are coming to terms with the fact it will not be business as usual for months or years as the full extent of the pandemic comes to light. But as Darwin surmised, “those who survive are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change”.
ET Insights engaged top Indian business leaders to understand the pandemic’s impact on their business, and get their perspectives on our shared future prospects.
The overall business sentiment amongst CEOs is one of uncertainty & caution. Notably, almost a third of all business leaders agreed that employee welfare is their topmost priority at this point of time. A balanced approach towards minimizing business risks and strategizing for the future seems to be on the minds of 40% of industry leaders.
“With the HPE spirit of “yes, we can,” we will continue to support our team members, customers, partners and communities through this unprecedented period”, says Som Satsangi, MD India, HP Enterprises.
“Stay home stay safe …. stay strong… we are there for you. Support all the junior employees and support staff of the key associates”, is Saugata Gupta’s message to his peers. Saugata is MD & CEO of Marico, one of the largest Indian FMCG companies, an industry reeling under the pressure of a looming slowdown brought on by unprecedented challenges.
Sanjeev Mohanty, MD, Levi Strauss India, opines that, “This is the time to walk the talk on our core values of courage, empathy, integrity and originality to come out stronger on the other side of the crisis.”
However, more than 80% of India Inc.’s leaders rang a note of caution and uncertainty as they fight fires on multiple front.
Anshu Budhraja, CEO, Amway India says, “Focus on health wellness and preventive care, and not curative. Go digital. Healing of nature cannot be bad for economy in the long term. Take care and serve yourself, then your family and community, and then business.”
Almost 40% of the leaders pinpointed frequently communicating with employees during these uncertain times as the most important measure they’ve taken to curb negativity arising out of this crisis. This is followed closely by adopting new health & safety measures and halting business travel in the near future.
“Stay focused, Stay Calm and Communicate Harder” is C.P. Gurnani’s success mantra. He is no stranger to navigating troubled waters, having taken over Tech Mahindra in the aftermath of the Satyam crisis and steering the new entity towards being one of the most profitable IT businesses in a short span of time.
Sales and Marketing seems to be the worst affected functions followed closely by Operations and Supply Chain.
Rajiv Aggarwal, who is at the helm of affairs at Essar Ports, one of the sectors working tirelessly to ensure supply of essential goods, says, “We are committed to the growth of the nation and your business. Even in these testing times our mechanized facilities are working around the clock to ensure continuity of business with best of practices and safety measures.”
It comes as no surprise that in a rapidly developing economy like India, 40% of the CEOs will soon like to see a dedicated corpus for supporting MSMEs, the backbone of India’s growth story. Almost a quarter of leaders would also like some measures for delayed collection of GST to help organizations tide over the initial shock.
66% leaders feel that there will be a fundamental rebalancing of global power, and China & India are best placed to lead the recovery of the global economy in the wake of the pandemic.
Rahul Singh, Founder & CEO, Beer Café, sums it up well when he says, “Resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails.”