Surviving COVID: Businesses need to think on their feet; revisit strategies

Posted on February 20, 2024 | Updated on February 20, 2024

Humankind is now facing a global crisis that has not just health, but also economic and geopolitical ramifications. Such extraordinary times require that people and governments take quick and decisive measures that are critical - while being cognizant of long-term consequences of these choices on personal freedom, democracy, and humanity as a whole.

The early months of the pandemic led countries to close borders and turn inwards - largely due to the inability of governments to collaborate, share information, data as well as insights, and learn from each other. World over, the pandemic wreaked havoc on economic activity, significantly impacting both industry and employment alike.

Despite these adversities, the collective human spirit to overcome all odds ensured that the setback was temporary. The easing of lockdowns resulted in almost immediate start of economic healing. The exemplary efforts by our scientific community in developing vaccines in record time will further accelerate the recovery process.

The pandemic also brought to the fore the importance of a thriving scientific ecosystem to deal with global health crises. A sustained scientific environment is the backbone of cutting-edge advances and innovations. It is evident that the scientific investments made today will lead to tomorrow's powerhouse of knowledge, tools, and techniques equipped to better combat extraneous factors. A unified global approach with mutual cooperation and trust as its hallmarks will foster healthy inter-dependence.

I believe that now only the fittest will survive these extraordinary times. Those with strong governance and corporate ethics, well-capitalised balance sheets and adequate liquidity to bear the shock, as well as the agility, adaptivity, authenticity, and resilience to radically transform their businesses in order to navigate through this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

There is now an increased need for businesses to think on their feet, demonstrate flexibility, and re-visit their strategies. For example, in our pharma business, we accelerated securing the supply chain through alternative vendor development and backward integration activities at the onset of the pandemic to ensure business continuity across all our 14 manufacturing sites in the three continents that the business operates - North America, Europe, and Asia.

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