Maintaining Resilience against Covid-19 Pandemic

9:27:01 AM | 4/6/2021

Although Vietnam is widely regarded as one of the most efficient countries in the world when it comes to handling the COVID-19 crisis, the country’s economy has inevitably been affected. With this context in mind, RMIT University held the International Business Week 2021 to explore more deeply the impact of COVID-19 on businesses worldwide during the last 14 months of the outbreak.

Leaders from Schneider Electric, Consulus and BambuUp, as well as senior academics from RMIT, discussed key solutions that firms can consider to weather the challenges of COVID-19.

Overcome limited resources with agility

According to RMIT International Business Senior Program Manager Dr Abel Alonso, businesses across the world are facing common issues due to limited financial resources.

“There’s only so much that governments can do to support companies in this pandemic. Businesses need to be much more entrepreneurial and innovative, and solve problems with what they have at hand,” Dr Alonso said.

The RMIT expert suggested that small and medium-sized enterprises (which make up the majority in most countries) should apply a “scaffolding approach” to their problem solving. Just like buildings are constructed one level at a time, businesses should focus on surviving day after day and building on strength after strength.

“In the absence of relief from the government, companies need to stretch the few resources that they have to maintain liquidity, and reinvent themselves by diversifying into new markets and sales channels, or changing the business model,” he said.

“Even companies in developed countries are struggling and there is no easy fix for these issues. Companies need to become much more agile and plan ahead for similar crises.”

Focus on the people

Presenting a case study from her own organisation, Ms Trang Cap, HR Director - Vietnam & Cambodia cum Regional HR Director – IT Business, East Asia & Japan at Schneider Electric, focused on a COVID-19 response from a people and organisational perspective.

Ms Trang pointed out four key priorities in her company’s response, namely people's health and safety, job security, business continuity and sustainability, and post-COVID growth and acceleration.

“We have put our staff at the centre of everything we do, and involved every employee in our communication efforts. It’s important for us to not just react to the challenges, but also proactively prepare ourselves for future rebound,” Ms. Trang said.

“We realised very early on that we had to act fast. We were among the first companies in Vietnam to launch proactive interventions such as a work rotation plan, working from home, and even virtual recruitment and virtual internship.”

According to Ms Trang, such efforts helped Schneider Electric Vietnam protect their topline in early 2020 and then gained back their positive growth momentum from the third quarter of 2020.

“From the people side, we ensured our employees’ health and safety with no confirmed cases among our staff. We also managed to increase our Employee Engagement Index by eight points despite the pandemic,” Ms Trang said.

Think strategically in the new normal

According to Mr Lawrence Chong, Group CEO of global innovation consultancy Consulus, COVID-19 caused many companies to question their own ability to survive the current crisis and any future ones that might loom.

Drawing on a study conducted by his firm in seven countries, Mr Chong said that before the pandemic, most companies had assumed that their growth would be upwards and were not prepared for decline.

“That’s why most firms were weak in the ability to quickly pivot with new solutions and into different sectors,” Mr Chong said.

According to the Singapore-based expert, this inadequacy can be solved if firms focus their strategy on the 4Cs of the new normal: cause (or the purpose of the company), cost, collaboration and coordination.

“You cannot control events, but you can control how you respond today to shape the future of your business,” Mr Chong concluded.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum