THOUGHT LEAD­ER­SHIP IN A TIME OF PRO­FOUND UN­CER­TAINTY

CEO Middle East - - FROM THE ED­I­TOR - JOLA CHUDY Ed­i­tor in Chief Jola.Chudy@itp.com Jola Chudy Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

This edi­tion of CEO Mid­dle East was sup­posed to be fo­cused on sus­tain­abil­ity, health and CSR. And, in the main part, it is, al­though not in the way that I or any­one could have pre­dicted just a few short months ago when I was plan­ning the ed­i­to­rial con­tent for 2020. The be­gin­ning of the year now seems like a life­time ago, and un­for­tu­nately for many busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als try­ing to make ends meet dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic, the next few months are go­ing to test them as never be­fore.

The year has not, to say the least, gone ac­cord­ing to plan.

As I write this from my din­ing room ta­ble, most of the planet is on lock­down. All but the most es­sen­tial busi­nesses have closed their premises, with dis­tance work­ing the new strat­egy for those who work on com­put­ers.

Across the United Arab Emi­rates, as with much of the world, ‘so­cial dis­tanc­ing’ has be­come the new nor­mal and #stayhome, the global mes­sage urg­ing peo­ple to re­main in­side un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary seems fi­nally to have taken hold.

But – as with any cri­sis – it will pass, and it is the things that busi­ness lead­ers and in­di­vid­u­als do now that can help de­ter­mine the out­come once we are all al­lowed to re­sume nor­mal life. Lead­ers need to act now to pro­tect their em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers, tak­ing pre­emp­tive ac­tion against chal­lenges to liq­uid­ity.

Many busi­nesses that are able to of­fer some­thing back to the com­mu­ni­ties that they op­er­ate in have done so. Gyms are of­fer­ing free on­line videos, some schools have - fi­nally - started re­duc­ing their term three fees and big com­pa­nies are do­nat­ing funds to those hard­est-hit. Oth­ers are do­nat­ing their pro­duc­tion re­sources, as the LVMH Group has done with its per­fume fac­to­ries, that are now de­voted to pro­duc­ing large quan­ti­ties of hand sani­tiser to dis­trib­ute to over-stretched French med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties.

From of­fer­ing con­tact­less de­liv­ery, to waiv­ing loan or bank pay­ments tem­po­rar­ily, there is a huge amount of good­will that can be earned, safe­guard­ing fu­ture cus­tomer loy­alty when we fi­nally wake up to our new nor­mal.

Al­though the word has been used to the point of be­ing worn out, these re­ally are un­prece­dented times and not every­one has got it right. From tone-deaf pro­mo­tions that make light of the cri­sis, to cyn­i­cal at­tempts to make money from peo­ple’s fears, the back­lash in our so­cial me­dia-led world can be in­stan­ta­neous, as food de­liv­ery app Zo­mato found out to its detri­ment af­ter try­ing to sell clean­li­ness rat­ings to al­ready be­lea­guered restau­rants.

There are many re­ally in­sight­ful opin­ion pieces in the edi­tion, penned by men and women whose thought lead­er­ship is much needed guid­ance at this time.

While the temp­ta­tion is to fo­cus solely on the global pan­demic, we’ve also given ed­i­to­rial space to lead­ers in myr­iad fields, to shine an in­sight­ful light on how they are lead­ing their busi­nesses to­day.

Our cover star this month, se­rial in­vestor and en­tre­pre­neur, Shailesh Dash, of­fers a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally up­beat view on how 2020 can still come good and how his com­pa­nies are re­spond­ing to their own clients.

It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how the trend for flex­i­ble work­ing gains trac­tion af­ter this is all over, and it’s likely to be one of many lon­glast­ing changes brought about by the virus.

In the mean time, #stayhome, stay safe and look af­ter your men­tal health as much as pos­si­ble. We will look back on this with be­wil­der­ment and dis­be­lief sooner that it seems, and every­one will have a role to play in re­defin­ing our lives post-Covid 19.

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