Overall, the COVID-19 crisis created an extraordinary strain on business. It also triggered creativity, flexibility and an urge to adapt to new circumstances quickly. It is becoming clear that the recovery will be a time of real change. How did Industry leaders accommodate to this new reality? And how does a logistics company like P&O Ferrymasters compare with a MedTech giant like Boston Scientific? Read more about how these 4 leaders prepare for the future.
To know who said what:
Bas Belder – P&O [BB]
Eric Sewsingh – Elekta [ES]
Mark McIntyre – Boston Scientific [MM]
Steve Robson – CeramTec US [SR]
What’s your view on the situation (Covid-19)/ and the effects of it for the future?
- [BB] This situation allowed me to look at work in a different way: usually I’m in the office 5 days a week and work with teams and colleagues from all over Europe, now it’s down to 1 day and 92% of us are in fact working from home. The impact on our lives has been enormous, it forced us to re-think the way we looked at things: supply chain will change, the way we work will change, the way we see work will change! By being forced to do things differently we also realized we can be more efficient and therefore our operating model will need to change. I’d never thought I’d say that but working from home can be done and this will have an impact on travel, costs, expenses and ultimately the quality of life of everyone. Some things will come back, but not the way they were before and I’m ok with that.
- [ES] In the world of cancer treatment, we’ve definitely been impacted: the pressure on finding a solution for Covid-19 meant a shift of funds and focus. And when we think of patients, they’ve also been impacted in terms of social distancing and treatment administration, as many treatments have been delayed or paused.
- [MM] Whenever I speak with colleagues, I notice how in general people have adapted impressively quick to the situation, despite having different needs and reactions. We don’t know what the future will bring, but talking to friends and colleagues around Europe this has been a massive relief as I know we’re not the only one facing the unknown.
- [SR] Not good, this “pause” in our usual day-to-day lives made people bored, and as a Manager I have to make sure my team’s minds are occupied and bright, especially considering they’re used to be on the road 50% of their time and they’re now at home. I want them to come out of this situation as better people, better salesmen and women, better at their job in general! So leveraging on this forced stillness period, we focused on doing program and product training: the members of the sales team are now working on developing product and program training for their fellow teammates, which means additional understanding across the board
How did it impact your course of action so far? What should a company like yours do / invest in to maintain its position and stay competitive? What would be the main difference(s)?
- [BB ]We are a Logistic company, but we’ve always been asset light (for instance, we don’t own our trucks nor employee the drivers), and this allowed us to be flexible and react to the changes in an agile way: thanks to our variable cost model we were able to continue with work with minimal impact, our choice proved right. To give you a clear comparison, look at the airline industry: companies generally own their planes and they have to park them, which translates into revenue loss. We were instead able to scale down in a much quicker way, reacting to the circumstances faster.
- [ES] We need to reinvent ourselves and find new ways (technology, tools, social media, graphical tools) to present our products remotely in a more articulated way, while providing support to our teams. It will come in different forms, from being able to educate our customers to use our solutions virtually, to remote training to keep them engaged and the “physical” gap with our customers. To stay ahead we need to think of how we can build our customers relationship in a different way, now that we will meet less often (or not at all) in person, we’re going back to an “older” approach with remote connections: phone and videos are here to help.
- [MM] Across the medical device industry, the response has been very impressive: think of how people got together to adapt existing technology, building new devices, helping field support offered, etc. What we hope it demonstrated is that we’re not a cost, but an important strategic player within health and wellbeing of society.
How are you preparing for the change?
- [BB] Let’s say this was not how I thought I’d spend my last 30 days before retirement! The original plan no longer applies, P&O is facing, like everyone else, an unexpected scenario but we were able to react quickly thanks to a crisis team getting into action in no time. They immediately got together (safe distancing, of course) and started working on how to deal with the present and the future situation, looking at things we can do better for our teams and our customers as well. On a personal level I’m looking at spending some quality time with my replacement, no travel, and focusing on delivering the best possible handover I can. I’m proud to be able to pass down a company in a good place and with good feelings. Being still relatively young, I’m lucky to have the luxury of an early retirement and start a new chapter in my life: after being a managing director for so long, I’m looking forward to a change of pace and horizon, and perhaps a bit of travel and sport.
- [ES] I was used to travel 60% of my time and now I’m suddenly stuck at home! Technology is providing a tremendous help, it kept the conversation going with my team, my colleagues and my customers. We would have never thought that we could close a deal remotely, yet 2 months ago we closed a major deal in Chile without stepping a foot there. We had the benefit of working with an experienced customer and a good long-lasting relationship, but it was very interesting experience for everyone. We’re very proud of this achievement and celebrated accordingly. We also need to keep investing and being open to new things, leveraging on digital tools and enable digital sales to support our teams is key. We don’t know how long this “new normal” will be, so we need to be agile and open minded, support each other, keep our customers close at heart and interact with them.
- [MM] I will definitely do less business travel. I’m focusing on what’s important for our customers, as they are adapting to the changing circumstances too, and on making sure we’re offering things of value to the new environment.
- [SR] I think we’ll look at a new way of working together, new social distancing norms and cleanliness will play a big part of our future, impacting us beyond just office space. And we’ll definitely have a new approach to travel: we’ll probably be a bit more selective and thoughtful to taking that trip to a client, thinking what can be done remotely and focus on key visits to keep that personal connection that humans crave.