Positive approaches to overcome post-COVID crisis

Monday, 6 July 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Pradeep Edward



The Management Club (TMC) – Colombo, in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) organised a webinar on 25 June, featuring three renowned speakers who shared their knowledge and expertise on how leaders and companies can face and tackle the business landscape in the current post-pandemic period. 

The webinar covered key focal points through marketing, management and financials, and gave the opportunity for attendees to interact with the panellists via Q&A towards the conclusion of the program. 

The program was hosted by CIMA Country Manager Zahara Ansary, and she commenced the program with the introduction of an expert in marketing and management, Dr. Pradeep Edward, the Chief Executive Officer of Lanka Hospitals Diagnostics (LHD), and the Secretary General for the Asia Marketing Federation (AMF). He illustrated the country’s reactions and the actions taken during the initial lockdown in March 2020 and highlighted the key areas that affected the Sri Lankan economy due to COVID-19 pandemic, with a stagnant inflow of foreign currency, because foreign employment, tourism and exports were at a stand-still. 

Emphasising that Sri Lanka faced and overcame similar situations in the past, he exemplified the proactive responses taken by companies in utilising media and telecommunication to positively increase awareness, how FMCG and modern trades enabled uninterrupted provisions to the people, and the convenience provided by banking and healthcare sectors. Yet, what are the next steps to be taken since the cease of the countrywide lockdown? He stated that through thorough research and analysis, organisations need to identify each problem, staying energised and not freeze with implications of new strategies and tactics – justifying that “Chief Marketing Officers will have to re-think their roles and become Chief Marketing and Research Officers”.   

Responding in agreement, Ebenezer Double Edged Solutions Managing Director Roger Talayaratne portrayed the ‘new world’; changes that Sri Lanka hadn’t seen previously, such as deserted roads and the concept of working-from-home. How did organisations adjust to these changes? Talayaratne stressed the need of identifying new emerging opportunities, such as fewer meetings but with more productivity, taking risks, distance selling, email marketing, etc. 

Additionally, the pertinent requirement of appropriate training and development to educate and motivate staff, and how the ‘race of organisations’ has transformed from a sprint to an obstacle, with the challenges that lie ahead. Organisations should not be caught in the illusion of budget cuts, but to embrace the need to re-evaluate each strategy.

Finance expert, Mahesh Amarasiri, the General Manager – Strategy and Corporate Planning of DSI Samson Group, responded in good-humour, stating that the title of ‘CFO’ in the organisation has changed from Chief Financial Officer to Chief Figuring-out Officer. He suggested bringing change to the frequency of the planning cycle, and that the company’s P&L and business processes have to be scrutinised, and implemented on scenario basis – can be short term, rather than long term. He further elaborated that organisations need to comprehend the difference between Cost Optimisation and Cost Cutting. In addition, here underlies the understanding of the processes and value chains of the company, as per the pertaining circumstances. 

The webinar had significant insight on the initial lockdown, and the current situation that our country and the organisations have to overcome. There was an audience of over 100 attendees, and a Q&A session gave an opportunity to clear certain over looming doubts, along with specific questions for the panellists.