The challenges of a CEO during the pandemic

The challenges of a CEO during the pandemic

Author: Constantin Magdalina, Emerging Trends and Technologies Expert

International trade has become much more expensive and complex. The competition for talent also becomes more complicated as more and more countries close their borders or restrict access. Strict anti-immigration policies are gaining electoral points and setting up a foreign anti-capital and local pro-capital agenda.

Companies that have not invested in people and their training but have opted to share dividends with shareholders are forced to change their employment and investment policy. In this exceptional context, the mission of decision makers is increasingly complicated by the multitude of challenges, as follows:

1. Changing consumer behavior

Once they have overcome the initial shock of the virus, business decision-makers need to consider the impact of pandemic changes on how they communicate, build and guide the experiences consumers now need and want.

Companies have the opportunity to accelerate pivoting towards digital commerce, by expanding existing offerings and creating new service lines to provide contactless delivery services and personal pick-up services. This acceleration is forcing companies to imagine their digital strategies to capture new market opportunities and new customer segments.

2. Supporting people to adapt to the new situation

All companies are still looking at how they will work. For people, the help given to them and to the companies where they work is important to survive the pandemic. Many companies are facing the transformations brought about by the long-distance work required to protect their employees.

Providing services to customers in the new context and ensuring business continuity are a priority. The experience of managers in developing agile consumer and workforce strategies is essential to maintaining the viability of companies and helping people and their families survive financially now and in the future.

3. Operational restructuring

The pandemic response underscored the need for leaders to accelerate the adoption of agile ways of working and transforming the value chain to help overcome uncertainty.

The transition from top-down decision making to team empowerment, goal-driven, data-driven, technology-powered and cloud-enabled for faster market speeds shows the adoption of agile ways of working.

Rigid structures are being replaced and modularized organizations are being created that connect and activate quickly. The smart company is capable of dynamic self-management and continuous adaptation. It is built for agility, endurance and growth.

4. Procurement of resources to capitalize on opportunities

Leaders need to rebalance risks and liquidity while assessing the growth opportunities arising from the crisis. The current and future viability of companies depends on the rapid action of decision makers, including short-term actions for stability and strategic moves that will create new growth contexts.

To cope with short-term liquidity challenges, costs and profitability or financing investments in new opportunities, action must be immediate. Many decision makers face declining sales and revenue and rising costs. Adaptation interventions may require investment in key technologies, processes and people. For some, liquidity has become a survival issue.

5. Updating IT systems

As companies experience several new challenges - business continuity risks, sudden changes in volume, real-time decision making, labor productivity, security risks - leaders need to act quickly to address the urgent resilience issues of IT systems, and to lay the foundations of a relevant technological infrastructure for the future.

1. Digitized workforce: With an emphasis on remote work, collaborative tools, mobile solutions, etc.

2. Automation: Working with large volumes of tasks, optimizing staff utilization.

3. Cloud-based solutions: Traffic management for IT infrastructure, native solutions.

In conclusion

Consumer demand patterns are changing, supply chains are disrupted and under pressure, markets and companies are responding differently to the COVID-19 crisis. Companies need to accelerate and become resilient and agile.

During a crisis, leaders must remain objective and rational. This is often easier said than done, especially when important decisions are being made with limited resources. The ability to see beyond the challenges of uncertainty and volatility is essential because leaders need to find the path that will lead the team and the company forward.

About Constantin Magdalina

Constantin Magdalina has 10 years of working experience, while he performed in multinationals both in Romania and abroad. Constantin has a master’s degree in Marketing and Business Communication at the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest. He is certified Lean Six Sigma and ITIL which provide him a good understanding of processes and transformations within organizations. The Chartered Institute of Marketing certification furthered on complemented his expertise and knowledge in business. In those over 4 years working activity in a Big4 company, he initiated and conducted studies which analyzed different aspects related to the business environment in Romania such as the economic growth predictions of companies in 2013-2016, knowledge management, the buying experience in the age of digital consumers, social media 2013-2015, the utilization of mobile devices in Romania. He is the author of numerous articles on topics related to innovation, the efficiency of business processes, social media, the consumers’ buying experience in the age of digital, trends and emergent technologies. He is invited as a speaker at numerous events and business conferences.