Pictured: Stafford Bagot, Managing Partner, Heidrick & Struggles’ Ireland
Stafford Bagot, Managing Partner, Heidrick & Struggles’ Ireland, discusses the role corporate leaders will take in a post-pandemic Ireland.
The Covid-19 crisis has presented leaders with an unprecedented challenge. The world of work has been altered and individuals across the globe are adapting to this new normality. Aside from the devastating human impact, economic disruption has resulted in job losses, pay cuts, restructuring, consolidation and business closures across many industries. These consequences are likely to impact our lives for the foreseeable future, however there is light at the end of the tunnel. Ireland is uniquely positioned to navigate the storm caused by this crisis. Aside from the obvious (English speaking, highly skilled and educated workforce, access to common market, competitive corporation tax rates), Ireland is also home to many deft and influential industry leaders. What exactly can these leaders do to ensure the future prosperity of their businesses and indeed the country?
Act With Resilience
Times of crisis are incredibly testing, and the toil they can take on businesses is profound. Leaders that are best placed to weather this crisis are those that act with resilience in the face of adverse economic conditions. Overcoming this crisis may be daunting and the road ahead will not be smooth for all. However, tackling this challenge and analysing how your company is best placed to overcome it (perhaps through product line consolidation, a strategic pivot in your product pipeline, or new partnerships) while taking the punches is essential for business continuity in the short term, and business prosperity in the long term.
As we have seen, leaders across the country have adapted to this situation quickly, by enforcing working from home practices where possible, changing workplace dynamics and altering the ways in which they conduct business. This situation is guaranteed to continue to evolve, so adapting and acting with agility is crucial. Identifying new opportunities and methods to conduct business will be a defining factor of the success of every business. Thus far, we have seen countless examples of businesses adapting: restaurants switching to delivery services, distilleries producing hand sanitizer, clothing manufacturers producing medical supplies, many independent retailers have moved online and even airlines have been delivering PPE. Such ingenuity, adaptability and agility is imperative in a crisis like this.
It is incredibly important to stay curious even in a crisis. If we look back to the financial crisis of the late 2000s, WhatsApp, Instagram, Uber, Pinterest and Slack were all founded amidst the greatest economic catastrophe in decades. While access to capital may currently be restricted, innovative ideas devised during this crisis will set the stage for the future of commerce. It is important to learn from this crisis too: this is and will continue to test business leaders for the foreseeable future. Learning from it will inevitably help in the future.
Anticipating and being prepared to navigate a crisis makes the likelihood of success much greater. While most business leaders could not have been prepared for the magnitude of this situation, they can prepare for the immediate path forward and for the altered landscape of international business that awaits us at the other side. Now is the time for leaders to use foresight and plan how they do business in the future. This crisis has precipitated enhanced momentum behind digital transformations and a shift towards flexible remote working which will likely persist into the future – think about how this will impact your industry and what opportunities this might present.