Oct 13, 2021
At Leaders Talk, General Director of AstraZeneca Vietnam Nitin Kapoor shared key measures that help businesses deal with and overcome challenges posed by COVID-19 such as reorganising management plans, prioritising employees’ safety and well-being, and promoting cooperation.
On October 2, Leaders Talk “Guiding businesses through times of crisis” was co-organised in British University Vietnam (BUV) and the British Chamber of Commerce Vietnam (Britcham Vietnam). Managers, experts, and businesspeople of various fields discussed business management skills during the pandemic as well as prospects for businesses in the post-pandemic economy.
The talk show’s special guest was Nitin Kapoor, Chairman and General Director of AstraZeneca Vietnam & Frontier Markets in Asia. Based on his wealth of experience in managing one of the leading companies in pharmaceuticals and healthcare, a field of utmost importance and great development potential in recent years, Nitin Kapoor provided useful insights on key measures for businesses to deal with and overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prevention is better than cure: Have a crisis management procedure in place
All businesses need to have a crisis management procedure in place and update it biannually or annually. At the same time, businesses need to identify their priorities in the event of a crisis depending on their sector and operational model.
As for AstraZeneca, its priorities are to ensure its employees’ safety and well-being, to maintaine a steady growth, to secure the supply of medicines for patients, and to support the Government and the health sector in responding to COVID-19.
Next, businesses need to develop core teams, backup plans for crises of different levels, and scenarios for crisis management to guarantee uninterrupted business operations. At AstraZeneca, taskforces of various levels have been established in many fields of operation, from supply chain to production.
A pandemic may impose unprecedented challenges on businesses. However, by paying attention to the development and training of high-quality and agile human resources, businesses can address immediate difficulties while achieving long-term objectives and values.
Human resource management during crisis
COVID-19 is a health crisis. Therefore, the key to guiding a business through it is to ensure its employees’ safety and well-being by adopting flexible working modalities and appropriate remumeration policies.
Nitin Kapoor also shared the initiatives expeditiously implemented by AstraZeneca to protect their employees amid the pandemic. Such initiatives include AZ Vaccination (ensuring that employees are fully vaccinated per the Government’s direction); AZ Care Pack (virtual doctor meetings, pharmacy vouchers, and COVID-19 manual); flexible working; AZ Fuel Up Day (for personal development and work-life balance); and company-wide online meetings to connect and motivate employees.
Furthermore, crises also prompt leaders to change their perspectives on how to select employees and which skills should be valued. In the face of unforeseeable challenges, people tend to panic, overreact, or become overwhelmed. However, business leaders need to remain calm and observe how their employees react to pick out those having the right qualities to weather the storm. These are composed, adaptive, and visionary people.
Cooperation to build back stronger after COVID-19
“No government or organisation, by itself, can withstand challenges as tough as those posed by COVID-19,” Nitin Kapoor emphasised.
Cooperation is the trend of the present time as businesses combine their expertise to develop a better society. There are many ways to cooperate such as with businesses, organisations, governments, or the academia. For example, AstraZeneca has cooperated with the University of Oxford to research and develop vaccines, and closely worked with organisations such as WHO, United Nations, and the Ministry of Health to distribute vaccines effectively and equitably.
This is also why business leaders need to have good networking skills. A good business leader may not be the best in his/her field of business but can unite talents for a noble cause.
COVID-19 has changed how people utilize technology, including the switch to online interactions instead of in-person interactions of the past, notably the increased frequency of online meetings. Therefore, in addition to the mentioned key measures, enhancing digitalization and strengthening skills in online communication, online working, and data- and evidence-based decision making is vital.
“Guiding businesses through times of crisis” is the fourth topic in the Leaders Talk series, which is a part of BUV’s Leaders Link programme. The programme is developed to be a platform for sharing knowledge, experience, and ideas. This is also the goal of BUV’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme. Similar to Leaders Talk, BUV’s MBA programme focuses on realistic management skills and looks into the latest trends, including the challenges faced by learners’ businesses. BUV also organises networking events and workshops with experts from various industries to offer learners opportunities for networking and career development.
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