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Covid-19: Anxieties, life hacks and takeaways from India’s CEOs who are navigating uncharted territory

An unprecedented business crisis looms. And no one can see light at the end of the tunnel. “The world is staring down the barrel of a recession,” says Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 29, 2020, 06.43 PM IST
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CEOs
The viral contagion is ravaging economies, people and livelihoods. Globally, governments — rich and poor — are gasping for an effective coping strategy.
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Till last month, the elite club of India’s chief executives had a long list of woes — slowing sales, weak consumer demand, credit crisis, GST rates, digital disruption, policy flip-flops and rising global trade barriers.

Overnight, the onslaught of Covid-19 has decluttered their vision and given them a devastatingly focused business perspective — one that is centred on survival. Take, for instance Ajay Bijli, chairman of PVR Ltd, which saw 800 of its multiplexes shutting overnight. “What business worry can I have when everything is in a lockdown and there’s nothing you can do about it?” he asks, stoically.

As Covid-19 scare shuts the world down for business, corporate honchos are worried about the well-being of their employees and their business. Lemon Tree chairman Patu Keswani says about the enormity of the challenge: “In a high-contact business like hotels, how do you ensure your employees and guests are not exposed to this highly infectious virus with up to two weeks of dormancy?” Today, most of these globetrotters are confined to their homes, helplessly watching the Covid-19 horror story unfold. “My biggest business worry is that I don’t know how long this will continue,” says Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who is working from home, like countess others.

For some, like Amul’s RS Sodhi and Tata Power’s Praveer Sinha, conference calls are not an option. Steering firms that offer critical goods and services, they are like generals in their war rooms, battling multiple enemies simultaneously. “My biggest concern is making sure my workers reach plants. If we don’t collect milk from our farmers for a day, there will be chaos,” says Sodhi.

An unprecedented business crisis looms. And no one can see light at the end of the tunnel. “The world is staring down the barrel of a recession,” says Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. Covid-19’s scourge has spared none, irrespective of sector, size and vintage. “This is not a threeweek, one-month, or six-week phenomenon. This is going to run for quite some time,” says Rajan Anandan, MD, Sequoia Capital India.

The viral contagion is ravaging economies, people and livelihoods. Globally, governments — rich and poor — are gasping for an effective coping strategy. So, as their business reels, hard-nosed honchos are enlarging their circle of stakeholders to look beyond their bottom lines to worry about the well-being of all Indians.

As the impact of Covid-19 unravels, ET Magazine reached out to chief executives to understand what’s on their mind.

“My Biggest Concern is Making Sure My Workers are Available for Deliveries”-
RS Sodhi MD, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul)

RS Sodhi
RS Sodhi

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
My biggest concern is making sure my workers reach our plants and warehouses, and are available for making deliveries.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
If we don’t collect milk from our farmers for a day, there will be chaos. And we don’t have storage to keep milk for more than a day. So the deliveries need to keep happening.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Working from home is not a problem for me. There are no distractions.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
We have sought the support of local governments in ensuring that the distribution of milk is not disrupted, since it is an essential commodity.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
I have seen curfews in the past, but I have realised that our teams should also be taught how to handle such scenarios and manage with just 25% of the staff, and which authorities to talk to when our trucks are stopped.

(As told to G Seetharaman)

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“This Pandemic Reminds Us that We are All Equal and Connected”- Suneeta Reddy MD, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise

Suneeta Reddy
Suneeta Reddy

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
We run India’s largest chain of hospitals, so Covid-19 poses a significant challenge. Across our network, we have stepped up our preparedness to test and treat coronavirus-positive patients. But to do that with nothing left to chance is the challenge that’s uppermost on our minds right now. There is a remarkable energy in our workforce, a determination and commitment to face and conquer this mammoth task. That’s very heartwarming.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
Since the virus has a 14-day incubation period, it makes it very difficult to assess rates of infection.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Exercise. Even on regular working days, exercise is what I enjoy the most. However, I must add that being the head of a hospital enterprise, it is not possible for me to work from home right now.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Being able to sit and discuss with colleagues and brainstorm on courses of action and business decisions, and being able to find out best practices from around the world.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
It reminds us that we are equal regardless of our religion, culture, occupation or financial situation. It reminds us that we are all connected and the false borders we have put up give us no protection. It reiterates how important our health is and how we should not neglect it and, most importantly, it teaches us that our true work is not just our job, that’s just what we do.

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“Working from Home, I Have More Time to Think”- Patu Keswani Chairman, Lemon Tree Hotels

Patu Keswani
Patu Keswani

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
I have two worries: in a traditionally high-contact service business like ours, how do we ensure our employees and guests are not exposed to this virus and, if it should happen, how can we ensure that we identify/respond fast without letting others also get infected? The second is financial — with demand for hotels drying up for an uncertain length of time and in a capital- and labour-intensive business like ours, with mostly high fixed costs, how do we ensure that we can run our business with minimum long-term impairment in a scenario where many hotels will have no business? What costs can we eliminate/defer?

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
The nerve-wracking uncertainty that even our best efforts — with multiple precautions like thermal scanning at all entry points in all our hotels, regular disinfection, hand-washing, maintaining distance etc — may not be enough. The nature of the virus, with an incubation period/dormancy (while being infected) of up to two weeks and very high infectiousness, is such that we could have multiple cases and not know till it is too late.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
I get less distracted by meetings and have more time to think.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
There are two aspects. One, I think it has helped us become much leaner and will in the long term ensure we are more cost-effective — any and all potential points of waste have been eliminated and fixed costs reduced. Two, that in times of crisis, new streams of revenue arise — in this case the sudden need of IT companies and MNCs for rooms to house employees who are required for business continuity

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
First, if your culture is great, your biggest support in times of utter uncertainty will be employees —it’s a wonderful and very comforting feeling to have. The second is an intuition, actually a conviction, that in future, such black swan events will occur more frequently and that one must always have a business continuity plan in place that factors in perhaps zero revenue for up to 6-12 months in the worst case.

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“For Many Startups, the Only Focus Will be to Survive the Year”-Rajan Anandan MD, Sequoia Capital India
Rajan Anandan

Rajan Anandan


Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
My biggest worry is the safety of 7 billion people around the world. Maintaining the health and safety of people, including 1.3 billion Indians, should be the priority of every government in the world. Given India’s population, massive segments of daily wage earners and large migrant population in cities, strict social distancing will not be an easy task but it is an imperative. When it comes to business, this is not a three week, one-month, or six week phenomenon. This is going to run for quite some time and the level of severity will vary by industry. There will be segments, like travel and hospitality, that will be extremely challenged. And I really worry about them. For a lot of startups that are low on runway, the only focus at this point in time will be to survive the year. They need to completely rethink their business plans —and take decisive action depending on the industry they are in.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
I make sure that every morning I get into my work clothes and head to my desk. Maintaining a sense of routine in these times goes a long way in creating a sense of control and discipline.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I spend some meaningful time every day connecting with friends and family. We talk about non-Covid topics. Regularly checking in on people I care about helps me create some personal space during the day — and I find that helps.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
For leaders, when the world is extremely worried and concerned, it’s important to be thoughtful — but it’s equally important to act. If there was ever a time to be decisive, it’s now. Some of the decisions you take may not be correct. But in the current scenario, ‘wait and watch’ is not an option. You have to do what you think is best. And communicate constantly. People want to hear from leaders during tough times — so make sure your voice is heard.

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“The World is Staring Down the Barrel of a Recession”- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Chairperson and MD, Biocon
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
First and foremost, we will all have to trim our businesses. They are going to take a huge hit. Everyone knows the world is staring down the barrel of a recession.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
There’s a psychological problem, a business problem and a crisis management problem — we are dealing with all of them. But life after Covid-19 is also going to be important for all of us — how do we revive the economy, and our lives, after this major crisis? And we need to use these 21 days to establish the severity of the disease, by generating enough data through more testing.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
The important thing is, we have all learnt to work from home. I find Zoom very good. After this is over, maybe we should have a system where people can work from home one week at a time.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
You have to be out there, keep giving messages to your people. Your leadership team has to keep handholding and making sure people feel safe. Every few days, I’m sending out messages and video clips to my employees, telling them to reach out to us if they have any concern.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
The prime minister has handled it well. He has alerted people about how serious the situation is. Now he needs to reassure people and give them good news whenever there is some.

(As told to Indulekha Aravind)

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“Since Our Revenue Turned Zero, We Have Cut Our Expenditure”- Ajay Bijli
Chairman, PVR Ltd

Ajay Bijli
Ajay Bijli

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
What business worry can I have when everything is in a lockdown? The hit is so hard that you take time to process it and then synthesise and react. This is so extraordinary. We are not the only one but the entire world is reeling from the pandemic. Today everyone is wearing multiple hats. As a businessman, I have concerns. But it would be myopic of me to just think about my business. The bigger worry is the battle between the human race and the virus.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
That there isn’t a vaccine to deal with it. Once that gets resolved, everything will fall in place. Extreme times demand extreme measures. The strategy of social distancing and lockdown adopted in India is what China and others have done. It will mean a lot of suffering and economic damage in the short and medium term.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Some daily routine continues. I am exercising a lot and practising my singing. Gautam (Dutta, CEO of PVR Cinemas) and I are recording messages — three-four a week — for our employees, telling them to keep their chin up. And that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
The fundamentals of the business are strong. Our debt-to-equity ratio is comfortable. Since our revenue turned zero (when the theatres shut), the first thing we did was look at our expenditure. We have cut our controllable fixed expenditure by two-thirds. And we have cash to survive and can ride the tide for a few months.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
You can do all your SWOT analysis and strategy. But it is hard to prepare for something like this. Because of SARS, Singapore spent a lot of funds to beef up its health infrastructure, which has helped it cope now. For a company, having good reserves, a healthy balance sheet and not a very aggressive structure helps deal with difficult times. Be healthy, frugal and keep company as risk-free as possible — these are big lessons.

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“The Initial Impact was on the Supply Side; Now It is on the Demand Side”-Manish Sharma President & CEO, Panasonic India & SA

Manish Sharma
Manish Sharma

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
The immediate one is the well-being and safety of my colleagues, our stakeholders and fellow citizens at large. Specifically on business, the initial impact was on the supply side but now it has moved on to the demand side.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
I am a people’s person and my role demands multiple face-to-face interactions and a lot of travelling. Not having either is slightly challenging. But I am preparing myself for the new normal. They say tough times don’t last, but tough people and tough organisations do. I am confident that we will emerge unscathed from this as well.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
While we are connected 24x7 to ensure seamless business continuity, the silver lining is that we all get to spend some quality time with our families and work from the comfort of our homes. Personally, it has given me time to re-strategise and plan well in advance for the coming times. Practising mindfulness and yoga and pursuing my other interests, i.e., photography and reading, keep me calm

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
We have suspended production at our factories temporarily. We are monitoring the situation closely. In these defining times, it is crucial to reflect on our core values and further strengthen the consumer trust in the after-sales service.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:

Practising resilience is the way forward. Individuals and organisations need to be cautiously optimistic and consciously prepare for adverse conditions where things might not be in their control and simultaneously plan to explore the opportunities ahead. I have learnt this from our founder, Konosuke Matsushita, who demonstrated resilience in business during the 1929 economic depression, as a result of which Panasonic sailed through a difficult time, keeping the employees’ interest at heart. We are facing a similar situation today. Secondly, I used to believe that leadership is about leading from the front. However, true leadership is tested in a crisis, where leaders need to accumulate the collective wisdom of people around, but still have the ability to take critical decisions themselves even if it means risking their own reputation. This is important to steer an organisation through tough times and be in a position to provide service to the society and livelihood to people in times to come.

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“The Outbreak Will Make it Even More Challenging for Auto Industry”- Masakazu Yoshimura MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

Masakazu Yoshimura
Masakazu Yoshimura

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
The auto industry in India has been going through a rough patch. It has been facing weak consumer sentiment, switch to BS-VI technology and credit crunch. The Covid-19 will make the times ahead even more challenging. The outbreak will impact customer sentiments and business operations. During these tough times, safeguarding the health and safety of our employees and stakeholders is our top priority. Our focus currently is on near-term impactful measures that can help our society, employees, dealers and supply partners to safely navigate these turbulent times and subsequently on ways to quickly restore operations and near normalcy. I am confident that once the outbreak is over, the Indian economy will have a speedy recovery.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
The toughest challenge is the fact that Covid-19 is highly contagious. While social distancing and personal hygiene protocols are the best approach to counter its spread, these are difficult to enforce. For effective monitoring as well as rapid implementation of counter measures, we have set up an empowered task force that I head. We have frequent virtual meetings while working from our homes.

A Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Define rules and boundaries to maintain a peaceful coexistence of work and personal life. Factor in scheduled breaks to keep things light and flexible while remaining productive. Work from home has taught me to cancel unnecessary meetings which were consuming a lot of time and to work efficiently.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
With the country under lockdown, our strategy to go digital is working for us. We have developed a 360-degree vehicle display on our website, helping customers take a virtual tour of each vehicle. Through our digital platform, we have updated and simplified the car-buying experience and after-sales services.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
In such uncertain times, the global community should come together to collaborate, share knowledge and counter this outbreak. Staying calm and focused and building resilience and confidence among key stakeholders also play a crucial role. It is important for all of us to show kindness and compassion towards one another and extend help wherever required. Times like these define a company’s culture and demonstrates the values it stands for.

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“It is Important to Religiously Follow Daily Stand-ups and Staff Meetings”- Greg Moran
Cofounder, Zoomcar


Greg Moran
Greg Moran

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
Zoomcar is taking all necessary precautions to ensure that you remain safe and healthy. My biggest concern for the moment is that broader sentiments recover at some point next quarter.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
It’s probably the most fluid business crisis in recorded history, given the various twists and turns.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
If you are not used to working from home, it can take some time getting used to new challenges that you might not have at the office. It’s important to have a defined schedule and stick to it. One hack that I abide by is to ensure that you block some time during the day for exercise.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Teams are now getting into the groove of this new working reality. It is important to religiously follow daily stand-ups and staff meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
Never waste a crisis. Use it as a teaching moment and as an opportunity for the team to come closer and work at an even greater productivity level.

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“I Keep a Positive Frame of Mind in Order to Help My Team”- Praveer Sinha MD, Tata Power

Praveer Sinha
Praveer Sinha

Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
We are facing an unprecedented crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic which has left virtually no nation and society untouched, including our country. Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the outbreak. As a utility and essential service provider, we have to brave it alongside doctors, law enforcement officers and other essential services providers and put duty before self. The power we produce powers numerous hospitals and laboratories that are fighting day in and day out against the virus. We are also powering technology that is helping many companies and businesses work from home. Hence, we are directly contributing to the prevention and cure of Covid-19. All our plants at various locations are operating at full capacity. It is a huge challenge for all of us to ensure that our employees, including contract labour, are properly taken care of.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
The uncertainty of everything. We have not seen anything like this before.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
I have a designated work space at home. I extensively use Skype or video conferencing to do meetings.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
As the leader of a foremost utility service company, I have been through many ups and downs. That is the way of life and business and one learns to take the good times and the storms in one’s stride. As a professional manager and business leader, I have to ensure that I keep a positive frame of mind in order to help my team.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I firmly believe that a leader is only as good as his or her team. My team is my strength and by serving the country in a committed and selfless way, they have proved their mettle and character. Our employees realise that all of them cannot afford the safety of working from home and are taking up the challenge with full commitment dedication.
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“My Biggest Worry is I Don’t Know How Long This Will Continue”- Vijay Shekhar Sharma Founder, Paytm
Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Vijay Shekhar Sharma


Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
I don’t know how long this will continue. We started work from home in the beginning of March. We have been working more or less three weeks from home. I don’t know whether it will be another three weeks or another month, or two months, or more. That is the biggest worry. You plan based on what you know. The biggest worry is the uncertainty of when this will open up.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
I think the conflict between explaining to people that this is really contagious and their belief that it is not so harmful. We asked people to work from home but one day when I went to office, I saw 10 people there. I said, don’t come to office, this is just for emergency, and they said, ‘Yeah, but you know it is so great to work from office versus home.’ We cannot be casual about this. There is a clause called force majeure and things that are beyond your control and this is the time for you to see that.

These are extraordinary times where you are supposed to be a business person and a human and not have conflict in that. This is also a moment when we have to understand that not just IQ but EQ also works. You have a responsibility towards the people around you as well as the responsibility of a company where cash flow matters.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
One thing that has worked incredibly well is that you can pick one topic that requires some dedicated time and you are able to give it that. In office I used to have more meetings, with less time for each meeting. Now, at home, I have less meetings but with more time for each. This has deepened conversations. In office, you give direction and move to the next one. At home, you can go deeper into a topic and it is fulfilling for everyone to discuss.

I always believe that every adversity has a bright side. We now know that video conferencing, video calls and meetings over internet work. Otherwise, we were always tempted to travel. From now on, we will be far more cognisant of somebody’s travel. In the end, we would have learnt how to work more effectively, more efficiently and not go through airports.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I always try to remember that this will be a long haul and not panic in the short term. My theory is that things will go worse far faster and far longer than what we envisage and by doing that you sort of get yourself accustomed to what is going to come and then you swing to a more productive outcome and you feel happy. Thinking about the worst-case scenario when things are not that bad — that’s my coping mantra.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
When we have shared responsibilities, things move faster. Here, everyone is facing the same adversity. We are in this together. Teams bond when they have a common purpose and this has been reinforced again.
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“Information overdose with WhatsApp spreading fake news and panic is making things difficult.” Hari Menon, cofounder, Big Basket

1

The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Getting our people back to work after the disruption in operations few days ago.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
Information overdose with WhatsApp spreading fake news and panic is making things difficult. Contradictory statements with long drawn discussions is making things tough. I have temporarily pulled out of all my very close buddy groups just to focus on my operations. It was a big distraction.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Wake up and get dressed for work. Get out of casual clothing like you would have done on a normal working day.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Not very applicable for us. However, we have had disruptions too thanks to unprecedented surge in the business. I have been coping through sheer focus, focusing on a few things and working on solving them. Focus is key.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
Engage, Engage, Engage with your teams and people. Keep the conversations going. Take away all the uncertainty from people. Ensure people aren’t conjecturing. This is critical in trying times like these.

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“One of the toughest tasks is to curb misinformation and ensure that the right facts reach people.” Debjani Ghosh, president, Nasscom

1

The Biggest Business Worry Now:
The safety of our employees has been our top priority since the inception of this outbreak and continues to be so. The industry is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff during these extraordinary times.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
We see an abundance of information being circulated across channels today. One of the toughest tasks is to curb misinformation and ensure that the right facts reach people at the right time.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
I have found that video calls are the best way to remain connected to ensure constant productivity while working with multiple teams. It gives you that face-to-face contact which is so important, especially in these times of social isolation.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Try to separate personal and professional time while working from home. Don’t use all the non-work time to binge on Netflix. Focus on health and find ways to stay productive. I plan to use the three weeks to complete a few online courses I had been wanting to do for a long time.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
A crisis brings out the best in people. And I have been amazed and proud to see how my team has stepped up to be there for the industry at a time when it is facing one of the biggest challenges ever. A crisis is when people need you the most and the best thing you can do is just be there for them. The NASSCOM team has led from the front with so much courage and compassion. As they
say, people are indeed your best assets.

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“Running out of cash is the real and present danger most startups will face.” Sanjay Nath, managing partner, Blume Ventures

Agencies
1

The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Indeed, a global pandemic its ramifications will unfold in coming months. The world is in for a long haul. I have multiple layers of concerns -

How long will a full recovery take? In the context of our startup world, this means focusing all efforts in conserving cash reserves and extending runway to tide over this storm. The only element a founder/ceo can really control is costs. So running out of cash is the real and present danger most startups (and businesses) will face. At a personal level, staying healthy and keeping a positive attitude will be paramount.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
It is the fear of the unknown. Will things become worse before they become better? The spiralling ramifications can turn sentiments (which includes the stock market) into a tailspin. At a personal level, there are psychological issues like hiring freezes, paycuts and layoffs. We are in a wartime scenario, and we all need to be Wartime CEOs.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Getting into a regular "office like" routine helps. Having a "desk" / workspace that will become our office for a month as we tide over all this, too helps.

Virtual tools like "face-time" and zoom are precious. At Blume, we're trying to do daily zoom sessions between experts and our Blume founders covering hard "wartime" issues on everything from cost optimization and containment, hiring strategies, closing funding rounds - to more fun but equally important and uplifting sessions around "music nights" (and even yoga)!

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Making tough and hard decisions NOW will save painful decisions that could be near-fatal at a later point. In other words, cut now, hire slow but make decisions quickly, so you can extend runway and have your key people and best resources available.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You
That the magic of the human race is us - people. Everyone wants to help each other and have everyone come out strong. Witness the myriad zoom webinars going on with so many stakeholders coming together on one platform to share best practices, hear out concerns and offer help. Sometimes it takes an unfortunate situation to bring out the mettle of human race. The Chinese word for "crisis" signifies both challenge as well as opportunity. Its a great time to hunker down and build new products and find new opportunities. Every downturn has seen a cycle of innovation.

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It’s so calm when you are in the eye of the storm! Ashutosh Pandey, CEO, Mahindra

1

First Choice Wheels:

The Biggest Business Worry Now:
The biggest worry is about the well-being of our colleagues and business partners (dealers, clients etc). We have adopted a simple, inclusive approach to keeping in touch. 24 senior-most leaders are admins of 24 WhatsApp Groups, and all our colleagues are part of one of these groups. These admins interact with all colleagues, keep their spirits up, identify if anyone has any problem or needs assistance. A daily Microsoft Teams call between these admins discusses what’s been happening in the group and shares insights. The groups are pretty active – discussing from everything about coronavirus to their favourite movies! It’s one big riot!! But we are all discovering deeper connections with each other.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
The uncertainty about how long it will last, and what shape consumer behaviour and business models might take thereafter. One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You: Microsoft Teams. I have discovered that working remotely is actually far more productive – fewer distractions, clear agenda, and pointed discussions.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Meditation and playing with the kids. A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has taught You: It’s so calm when you are in the eye of the storm!

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These trying times have led to the restructuring of the education system. Dr Atul Chauhan, Chancellor Amity University

1

The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Covid-19 has made nations across the globe grapple with serious impact on their present and the future as it is causing severe economic and financial instability. I am focused on the interest of all the stakeholders including students, parents and prospective students. The students should not suffer and academic sessions should not be compromised. So we are taking every possible step to ensure that they continue to receive education in a secure and healthy contactless environment.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
This is an unprecedented scenario that I had never come across in my life. Governments globally have closed education institutions to contain the pandemic and safeguard students. At Amity, we are doing our best to minimize disruption and facilitate continuity of learning. Our faculty across institutions are working very hard from their homes and delivering online classes. These trying times have led to the restructuring of the education system.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
A robust IT system has made us just a click away from students as they are in a safe and healthy environment of their homes attending classes online. Since the closure of face-to-face teaching, we at Amity are educating 70 thousand students online live every day to prevent any academic loss. Even faculty meetings are being conducted online.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:

We are changing globally with the demand of the present times and adjusting our education offerings. Even in this crisis there is an opportunity for our faculty to train themselves for giving online lectures, upload study materials and interact through the virtual medium. Since at Amity we were delivering online lectures for the last ten years it was easy to switch giving tremendous boost to our outreach now.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:

Be empathic, compassionate and reach out to people in need. We are striving to ensure education continuity through adaption of digital practices and platforms. I have to admit that learning, moulding and adjusting to the needs of these changing times is going to lay the future foundation.

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‘Uncertainties need not be anxiety inducing experiences’ Neetish Sarda, Founder, Smartworks

Agencies
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The Biggest Business Worry Now:
As an organization, we are responsible for the wellbeing of our employees and worried about the uncertainties related with COVID-19

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
Employee well-being and ensuring minimal impact to business commitments.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Setting a schedule and task list for the day to manage all priorities.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I personally believe if there is anything you can do to keep off disaster, it's to be prepared and be careful.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
As an entrepreneur, we all have struggled with uncertainties and should understand that it does not need to be an anxiety inducing experience
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I am realising that life is not only about money and business. Prashant Solomon, managing director, Chintels India
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The Biggest Business Worry Now:
My biggest business worry right now is for the economy in general. I hope and pray for the SMEs and small businesses who may not be able to tide through this pandemic.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
It is the uncertainty it brings. This is a new viral strain, and nobody has enough information about it. People who are alone need to find something creative to do.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Working from home is easy. With today's technology, we can have Skype or FaceTime or WhatsApp video chats with multiple people. Emails, online banking and other options have made working from home easy.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
My coping strategy includes meditation, reading, writing, painting, listening to waterfall videos, watching Netflix, praying and exercising. This is a blessing in disguise as I am now able to spend a lot of quality time with my family. In addition, I am spending a lot of time with my own self, realising that life is not only about money and business.

Coronavirus has shown us that our physical life on this planet is very uncertain. Nobody knows how much time we have left. It has also made us realise that we are all connected. This is the first time in the world’s history that as a species we are fighting a common enemy.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
Covid-19 has taught me to be compassionate with all people and give them hope by highlighting the positives in every situation. It has also taught me to never underestimate anything or anyone. Look at this tiny little virus, which can only be seen through an electron microscope, and has brought the whole planet to its knees. As I mentioned earlier, it is unprecedented in human history. There has never been a Global Lockdown before. The economy is completely halted. But, it has also taught me that through positive attitude, teamwork and faith in the Almighty, we as a species can, and will, get through anything together and, in the end, this too shall pass.
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”Time saved on travel is helping me reflect, ideate, strategize and do deep thinking” Ajay Kapur, CEO, Aluminium & Power Business, Vedanta Ltd
IMG-20200326-WA0032_3.
Ajay Kapur


The Biggest Business Worry Now:
I usually keep calm in difficult situations. My current concern is the wellbeing of our people, our communities, families and business partners. We want to do everything possible to ensure their health and safety.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
The first one is to make sure that everyone in the entire business value chain is safe. The second is continuity of operations as aluminium is a metal of strategic importance and a vital raw material for electrical distribution, aerospace, defence, building & construction etc. Plus, our operations are 365x24x7.Being India’s largest

producers of aluminium we are challenging ourselves to ensure that our plants keep running with minimum resources.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Well, acing all the digital technologies that enable working from diverse geographies in real time has certainly helped. It has given me more face time with all my colleagues across all locations through the country. The time saved on travel is giving me more opportunities to reflect, ideate, innovate, strategize and do some deep thinking with colleagues. Technology has made us even more agile. For example, just after the PM’s address on 24 th March about the 21-day lockdown, we were able to convene a war-room immediately to plan for the next few weeks.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
The disruption is here to stay for a while. The adage ‘change is the only constant’ has never been truer. Right from the supply chain to the customers, every leg of the value chain is facing disruptions as the government is, rightly, enforcing stricter measures.

We had immediately set up a war room when this pandemic broke out to monitor the progression of the impact and respond to it in the best possible way. We have empowered our teams across all locations to take decisions.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
We are indeed faced with one of the biggest challenges the world has ever seen, and we also know, there will be a lot of pain before it is behind us. The mightiest businesses and economies are facing the same pressures that all of us are facing here. Every day, in fact every hour, can bring new and unforeseen developments. There is no textbook and no ready answers. Each of us must find our own answers. And we can do so through, what I like to call the 4 Cs: Calmness > Collaboration > Cooperation > Communication.

Resilience and patience will see us through. This is a heavy weight boxing championship. We must go through the 15 rounds and emerge champions on the other side.

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Jurgen Bailom, CEO, Jalesh Cruises
Mr.-Jurgen-Bailom


The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Like everyone else, the coronavirus is also crippling the $1.7 trillion tourism industry. My biggest worry is about the fear that has gripped the minds of people. Amid news of cancelled cruises, plummeting stocks, quarantined vessels and vacation plans scrapped, everything has come to a halt. The bookings have become “soft”. I know we will bounce back but it will require a lot of effort to
undo the damage done.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
Besides the concerns on community spread of the virus, it constrains mobility and makes it tough to manage situations 24/7 since people are based out of different parts of the world. It gets tough to get everyone together on a virtual platform at the same time. Just when you think you have found a solution, you are told that the regulations have changed due to the ongoing crises and you have to start all over again.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Create a mini office space within your house. Make sure you follow a routine of getting up on designated time and getting ready for work. Please don’t get casual. Do not work out of your Pyjamas and out of bed. Change your mind set. This is not a vacation. Use this as an opportunity to finish your pending work and define goals for future.


Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption
There are a few things that can help people manage their emotions and look after themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed:
Embrace and seize the moment. Short-term adversity can be a long-term advantage, if you are able to meet the moment with impact. Look for ways to make your company bigger, faster and stronger than before. Handle crisis with the honesty, decisiveness and optimism it deserves!

Follow the Resilient Moment Communications model. The keystone of success is the ability to communicate effectively, especially in dire, unexpected circumstances. Use this time to connect with your past and present professional colleagues. Keep a frequent check on your physical well-being by following all medical advice. Ensure you have your plan ready for medical and psycholog ical help; should a need arise. Stay physically active. Make exercise a part of your daily routine

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
Incredible leaders emerge when the chips are down and there is seemingly no way out. The lesson that has always remained with me is the power of presence. The ability to look someone in the eye with empathy and compassion during adversity is critical. You must ensure you and your company are ready to manage the situation, no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant. Be ready to meet the moment with vigour, transparency and, decisiveness.
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The Greatest Lesson has been humility, to see people at the forefront fighting the disease: Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors
Mr. Guenter Butschek - CEO and MD - Tata Motors
Guenter Butschek

Your Biggest Business Worry Now?
Core to any business is its People. Hence, the health and safety of our employees has always been our top priority. We have rolled out various proactive measures to ensure the welfare of the company’s employees and their family members in line with Honorable PM’s directive.

The Toughest Challenge About Dealing With This Situation?
These are unprecedented times and the world has not witnessed a health crisis of this scale in over a century. Therefore, there is no case study to develop a business contingency plan. However, we are confident that with the collective efforts by the governments, companies, communities and people at large, we shall be able to contain the spread of the pandemic. The most important aspect is to remain positive and deal with this crisis with utmost care as its about people’s wellbeing.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
The biggest hack for me is the need to be available to the team. I closely work with the executive committee and provide guidance to the teams to start working on the Business contingency plans for the revival and growth of organization. Also, encourage my immediate team to ensure regular ongoing communication with their teams to be connected and work on the plans ahead.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
As we assessed the impact in FY20, in particular the 21 days lockdown, for the time after, whenever the lockdown measure will start to be lifted, we will have our next phase business contingency plan ready and scenarios on hand, as we try to understand the socio-economic impact of the prolonged lockdown.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
A crisis presents an opportunity to self-reflect and introspect. We as a community, have understood the importance of ensuring good health and that self-care is a priority and not a luxury. This crisis has a strong message to all the companies that are trying to be a successful venture – Community welfare and Business growth are inter-dependent and cannot function independently. Personally the greatest lesson has been humility. To see people at the forefront trying to fight the virus, be it the doctors, nurses, the police force as well other individuals who are ensuring that the country is kept running.

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With social media, one of the challenges is that information and misinformation spreads at lightning speed: Rashesh Shah, chairman, Edelweiss Group

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The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Business takes a back seat at such times. My biggest worry right now is ensuring the safety and well-being of our families, employees and near and dear ones. At the same time, it is important to ensure that the lockdown does not create a situation where the masses suffer from either absence of basic essentials or liquidity challenges owing to temporary shuttering of small businesses. A temporary economic slowdown is manageable in the long term as long as we are able to contain the spread of the disease. Ten years hence, when we look back, I think we would be thankful that we took this early initiative of a complete lockdown rather than wait for the disease to spread.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
With the advent of social media, information and, more importantly, misinformation spreads at lightning speed. One of the challenges of the current crisis has been managing the flow of information to ensure that fake news does not create any needless fear. "Whatsapp university", as we call it these days, has created a system where a mass of information can not only flow very fast across the system but also does so without any fact-checks. It is, therefore, important to ensure that we don't fall into this trap and add to the panic and unrest it creates. Instead, we must take a step back to ensure that anything we circulate to a larger group is factually correct and not based on hearsay. I think the government has also taken cognisance of this problem now and is coming out with strict rules to avoid the spread of such misinformation.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Working from home has been a pleasant surprise. While you expect some impact on efficiency and productivity, what we have is the opposite. Meetings and calls are much more efficient and hardly ever exceed stipulated timeframes. People are well-prepared and most discussions are to the point and very focused.

One personal hack that has worked well for me is to not deviating from my regular routine. So I continue to get up in the morning and do my health routine, follow it up with a bath and get ready for office. Only difference being getting ready for office here refers to creating a formal desk environment with my laptop and anything else I might need to get through my workday. I try to take some breaks so that when I work, time is used in the most efficient manner possible.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
At a personal level, it has been important to be constantly in touch with my family and friends. It has been a challenging phase emotionally, but being in constant touch with my near and dear ones helps build a strong semblance of comfort and relieves some of the stress that builds up as we see the world around us plunged in turmoil. Knowing that people you care for are safe helps me keep a calm mind during these times.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
The current crisis has left us with many lessons and learnings. But there are two leadership lessons that have resonated with me particularly well and have strongly reinforced what I have seen earlier as well. First, the importance of constant communication within an organisation cannot be underscored. Over the last fortnight, I have engaged in multiple reach-out sessions with different teams, through remote working tools. While there is obviously some fear and concern, which is natural, I also see a strong sense of ownership among them. This has been possible due to the multiple reach-out sessions that our own business heads have been doing with their teams. This has helped strengthen the belief in our employees that the organisation will stand with them during these tough times. This has created an even stronger sense and belief of ownership within the organisation. The importance of clear and transparent communication in an organisation cannot be underscored.

Second, the increasingly critical role technology is playing today - not just in enabling communication but also in conducting business in a more efficient manner - has become more evident. Going forward, businesses would increasingly become more tech-driven rather than just tech-enabled. It is something we have visualised in Edelweiss earlier as well and the current situation has seen absolutely seamless management within our organisation due to our investments in technology. It is important that leaders recognise and accept the same and be ready for the tech-driven future that is coming.

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Mental fatigue, loneliness - these are my main worries: Devraj Sanyal, MD India & South Asia, Universal Music
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The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Typically, we don't manage the business for the moment, but for several quarters ahead. So I'm not terribly worried about the business of our business. Our primary focus recently has been assuring the continued health and safety of our people, while continuing our work to support artists, songwriters and partners. I'm proud of what our team has done to maintain excellence in their service even as they shifted to working remotely.

But, in the broader sense, every business has challenges. And in India, most of them are on the demand side, which is driving by market sentiment. In contrast, the music business in the region has a supply-side issue, which is my largest potential worry. After all, while ours is nearly 100% digital business, everything that goes into the digital supply chain is created physically. We need the infrastructure of studios, edit suites, shooting floors, etc, to be open and available so that we can match the demand-supply requirement.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
For me, if my teams are well and secure, then the business essentially takes care of itself. So one has to stay on guard to ensure all the measures that we have taken secure the physical and mental health of people. Mental fatigue, loneliness, depression - these are natural concerns in an unprecedented situation like this. That is my main worry 24/7. Managing and supporting your people with 100% efficacy in a time of uncertainty - that is the toughest thing about dealing with Covid-19.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
For me, work from home is no different than working from office. I don't have a single hack, but several tiny ones. They include:
Dress up like you are going to work
Keep office hours exactly the same
Keep your personal routine as unchanged as you physically can
Stay engaged with your teams at all times and not just for work; take the time to chat with them one on one
And double your daily exercise.
All these keep my energy, enthusiasm and engagement at normal levels.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I am a huge believer in manifesting positive end-goals with an equal capacity for accepting failure. So, despite any and all disruptions, I am manifesting the best result possible with positive thinking, energy and intent. This has always helped me, and certainly more than ever in this time of the greatest uncertainty.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
During the 2008 recessions, I learnt a very valuable leadership lesson: never take anything for granted and always have a Plan B and a Plan C. This current situation has once again reinforced this. I think life in the time of Covid-19 has deepened my resiliency more than ever before. When this is over - and it will end - we'll be able to rise faster and more efficiently.
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Making Peace with the Worst Possible Outcome is My Coping Strategy: Nithin Kamath, Founder, Zerodha
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Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
The worry is about our economy, given that all businesses are inextricably linked to it. I hope we can get through this without too much damage.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
Dealing with the constant barrage of negative news from around the world about job losses, deaths, seeing the stock market meltdown and ensuing wealth destruction and the feeling of helplessness. The fact that I am working from home might be accentuating this.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Workout as soon as I get up, shower and work from a dedicated space far away from the kitchen.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I traded for a long time and saw a lot of volatile market phases, including 2008. What has personally worked for me is make peace with the worst possible outcome of a trade. Once you do that, you put yourself in a spot where you don't panic and make foolish decisions. So yeah, making peace with the worst possible outcome is my strategy.

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The world as we know it will not be the same anymore: Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman, Feedback Infra
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The Biggest Business Worry Now:
Rapidly drying up liquidity and the obligation and commitment to meet all payment deadlines on time to employees, suppliers, banks and statutory payments to government agencies

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
The realisation that life and the world we are accustomed to will not be the same anymore.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
The top management does a virtual war room meeting at 10 am everyday over video-conferencing.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I tell myself not to get stressed out about short-, medium- and long-term scenarios but take it one day at a time.

A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
To have the capacity to function effectively with exceedingly high levels of tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.

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Working women without domestic help have a bigger worry: Ashu Suyash, MD, Crisil Ltd
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Your biggest business worry now:
I see Covid-19 as a global crisis facing humankind first and then our businesses. Every single person on this planet is under stress and worried about the wellness and safety of their families and themselves! My topmost concern is to ensure the safety of every CRISILite as we continue to serve to the needs of our clients
worldwide.

We are also staring at a significantly muted global and domestic economy in the wake of this pandemic. Given the massive disruption caused by Covid-19, recovery will be painfully slow, too. Overall, a long, hard summer awaits countries and corporations alike.


The toughest challenge in dealing with the situation:
The biggest challenge is dealing with uncertainty and also the unknown risks it might throw up. There are no easy answers for how much, how long and how deep Covid can go. In a day and age where answers for almost everything are available at the tap of a button, it is very unnerving for markets and stakeholders to not have clarity.


One work-from-hack that works for you:
Over the years, I have followed a set of rules to make working from home efficient - pick a quiet spot, set out priorities and work to a routine. But an extended work-from-home regime adds to this list of ground rules - take regular breaks, stay hydrated, eat meals on time, etc. Working women without domestic help have a bigger worry, and it is up to the rest of the family to chip in with household chores.

It is important to leverage technology on two counts: First, to keep teams informed on priorities and work progress. I recommend over-communicating because in times like these our goal is to ensure employees are doing fine and coping well. Second, ensure that we are providing everything necessary to complete tasks remotely - including advanced, virtual conferencing and meeting tools for interactions with clients.

One coping strategy in these times of disruptions:
While these are challenging times, it pays to be optimistic. That helps!

Beyond that, one coping strategy that I have used over the years is to step up conversations and dialogue with my leadership team, at the skip level, and reach out to the broader team. It is about 24X7 engagement. I believe that brainstorming allows lots of ideas to bubble up and that enables quicker and sharper decisioning, as well as collective ownership. It is also about stepping up communication with clients, markets, regulators and policy makers. This time round, I
have added regular check-ins with the wider family and friends on their wellbeing.

We are all in BCP (business continuity plan) mode - so sharing best practices and learning from each other is helpful. We have had a lot of learnings from our China team, which continued to deliver amid incredibly challenging circumstances, including extended lockdowns.

A leadership lesson the pandemic has taught you:
The biggest takeaway is that BCP is the responsibility of every leader and not just of a designated official in the company. Focus on preparedness for possible disruptions such as this has to be part of the standard operating procedure. Acting early and preparing for the worst are vital. I believe Covid-19 will do to BCP what the 2008 global financial crisis had done to risk management - turn it into the corner office job. Leaders need to repose extraordinary trust in their teams as they join forces to surmount this trial by pandemic.
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In the Middle of a Crisis, You Need to Have a Flexible Mindset: Sumant Sinha MD, ReNew Power
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Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
Right now, companies are worried about managing their cash. They have to pay their employees and vendors and service their debt. Some companies have seen a big drop in demand, and some companies will see their customers delaying payments.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with This Situation:
Not knowing how long this is going to last is the most difficult part. If this drags on, then business as usual will be completely disrupted.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
It's important to follow the same routine as you would otherwise. Working from home is not ideal, but it's not that you can't get work done. It's still early days, though.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Once a day, I do a conference call with around 30 members of my team. It helps us get on the same page. This also creates a sense of bonding as people can see everyone is in the same boat. If we are not in touch on a regular basis, people start feeling left out.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
There are two lessons. The first is something I learned during the 2008 financial crisis - you need to have a flexible mindset. You were running at full tilt, trying to grow faster or raise more capital. But now you have to stop and look at your cash management. As a leader, you have to get your team to go in a different direction than they are used to. The second lesson is, you have to be resilient. Even as everything around you is falling apart, you can't let people know what you are really thinking. You have to pull through for them.

(As told to Seetharaman G)
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Patience and Empathy Will See Us Through These Testing Times: Harshil Mathur, Cofounder, Razorpay
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Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
As far as the macroeconomic impact of the virus is concerned, we believe the spending power of consumers will be reduced to some extent because their earning capacity will be affected. Consumers will be wary of their expenses and will try to save more. All of this will affect the country's GDP in the near term, at least. We are dealing with two fears -- a viral infection and a financial infection.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with This Situation:
It is not being able to foresee what might happen. Most of us wouldn't have experienced life during a pandemic. And, yet, we have all rallied together to ensure the safety of our loved ones and everyone else around us. The absence of a vaccine to fight this is making this situation a lot tougher. It's become more important for us as a country to rethink our public health strategy so we are prepared for such life-threatening events in the future. Certainly, we can't foresee how things will turn out, but patience and empathy are what will see us through these testing times.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Working from home sure has its perks. Something that I figured helps me keep work going in a situation like this is the 2-Minute Rule - a small habit can increase your productivity. If there's something you can finish in about two minutes, I prefer doing it right away. That way, you aren't postponing something just because it takes only a couple of minutes to finish it.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
As a new age technology company it's a lot easier for us to work from home and ensure business continuity. A business continuity plan (BCP) is something we have always had in place and given the current situation, it is now fully activated across the whole company. Our cross-functional training is also helping teams to be prepared to back each other up at all times. Here's something we've been doing to make work from home easy and fun for employees: Daily calls with team managers and the leadership team; water cooler activities like quizzes and games on our Slack channel; remote working allowance for every employee for renting comfortable office furniture or upgrading broadband.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
Coming together to selflessly have one another's back.

(As told to G Seetharaman)
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People are not realising we are at war: Vivekananda Hallekere, cofounder, Bounce

Your biggest business worry now:
People have to stay safe and respect the lockdown. Else, the whole economy will crash and it will have a long-term impact. (I'm) hoping we don't go the Italy way.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with This Situation:
People are not realising that we are at war, that the enemy is not visible and that it is working 24*7. The background music is missing; otherwise, this would have been that tense scene we all see in the movies.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
We have not done this before. It's not just work from home, it's also coupled with a lockdown which means there is no day-to-day business we are usually busy with. Now (we are) making plans on what we're we missing all these days and how to get to pole position once the race resumes.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
See this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset and get better at whatever you wanted to be. Things won't be the same after this. So be prepared and face the reality. Be agile, be lean, have a good runway.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
That nature can bring your down to your knees in the blink of a second. Have a plan B, always be paranoid. Only the paranoid survive.
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We May Never Need Offices Again: Yashish Dahiya, Cofounder & Group CEO, PolicyBazaar.com
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Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
My employees' well-being, which directly translates into the organisation's health & productivity. Being a customer-facing organisation, we have to be there for them when they need us, especially in these uncertain times. And for our teams handling customers, working from home needed extensive preparation in terms of infrastructure, technology and other factors.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with This Situation:
We are all hands on deck, but it's hard. We are trying to be dispassionate in our analysis and passionate in our decision-making at the same time. We spend Rs 3.5 crore a day on operations so if our revenues drop and our costs do not go down, we will be dead soon. However, we also need to be considerate in these times. It's a fine balance. Overall, our results are still holding up and are a reflection of the quality of our business, also visible in our partners extending benefits like telemedicine to our customers.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Paradigm shifts are happening in what we believed was possible. Working from home was an experiment we never carried out beyond 200 employees. However, in ten days we executed it for 13,000 people, and from what I can see, there is a possibility we may never need offices again.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
It's too early to say. We are in the middle of the crisis.
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Real Risks Lie Outside Our PowerPoint Charts: Sachin Nandgaonkar, President & CEO, Speciality Sector, RPG Group
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Your Biggest Business Worry Now:
What will we need to do to be the last man standing in our industry? This appears to be more devastating than anything any of us has seen in our lifetime.

The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with This Situation:
Being able to judge when to move to which level of risk mitigation. A risk far away felt different compared with when it was at the doorstep. It's totally different when it's in the house.

One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Setting up calls involving small groups for short durations, and virtual fun and banter with office people.

Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
Getting increasingly comfortable that people on the ground know the best and will give their best.

A Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
Real disruptive risks lie outside our PowerPoint documents and charts.

(As told to Suman Layak)
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Tough times don't last. Tough teams do: Sandeep Singh, managing director, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery

Your biggest business worry now:
That this virus might lead us and our stakeholders to financial crisis - markets and business sentiments are very low. Our customers are also at the receiving end, sudden stop in work and income is a matter of great concern.

The toughest challenge in dealing with this situation:
I am also worried about the health and safety of our employees, dealers, vendor partners and their families. The complete uncertainty towards the business and duration of lockdown seems to be the biggest challenge for us.

One work-from-home hack that works for you
I am following my routine. Apart from the fact that I cannot go out to meet my friends, play golf and travelling has stopped, I am doing everything that would do in a normal day at work.

One coping strategy in these times of disruption
The strategy that works for me is to stay connected with my senior colleagues across departments and our headquarters in Japan. Fortunately, we have technologies like Microsoft Team or Webex to aid us.

A leadership lesson the pandemic has taught you:
Resilience and courage. I believe that tough times don't last. Tough teams do. As the world mobilises to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, uncertainty abounds. One thing is clear however: the Covid-19 outbreak underlines the need for business and society to be resilient and prepared.
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We are focusing on how we can help Covid19 researchers find a solution: Vishal Dhupar, MD, Nvidia South Asia
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Your biggest business worry now
Ensuring the safety of our employees, partners, customers & ecosystem, for which we have taken measures early in the day, such as working from home, virtual meetings and much more.

The toughest challenge in dealing with the situation
We have been focusing on how we can help find a solution, for example by giving Covid 19 researchers free 90 day access to our Parabricks Genome Analytics Toolkit.

One work-from-hack that works for you
Maintaining a disciplined time schedule and increasing team engagement virtually

One coping strategy in these times of disruptions
Currently we are focused on weathering this storm together as a team

A leadership lesson the pandemic has taught you
More than ever in times of need, teams must be engaged, motivated, reassured and provided the right tools to move forward in both their professional & personal endeavours.
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It has taught me to remain calm and detach from the noise around to think clearly: Amrish Rau, CEO, Pine Labs
Amrish Rau_CEO, Pine Labs

The biggest business worry now:
About one-fourth of our POS machines are at establishments that are classified as essential services by the Government during the lock down. My biggest worry is if any of these need physical servicing, how can we do that while keeping our service engineers safe.

Over the last few days we have developed protocols. The decision hierarchy is – safety for our employees, compliance to government regulation and business continuity for our customers.

We moved our entire call centre to a ‘’work from home’’ mode last weekend. We are also being ingenuous in using our tech infra for remote servicing.

The toughest challenge in dealing with this situation:
Being one of Asia’s leading merchant commerce platforms, one of our top priorities is to ensure seamless communication with our merchant partners in this time of crisis. We need to be agile in responding to their needs and find new ways to service them especially during the current 21-day lockdown period. Covid-19 outbreak tested us on many fronts and the litmus test for us was the speed at which we responded to each of these problems. We have taken proactive interventions which is helping. We set up an Emergency Response Team whose mandate is to keep a close eye on the developments by meeting frequently and keeping the leaders up to speed so that they could take decisions in time.

One work-from-home hack that works for you:
Working from home requires all of us are to be in constant touch to ensure smooth organisational functioning. In recent days, I have found myself in and out of several meetings and discussions which can be excessively exhaustive. I am sure it is true for others as well, especially someone who is in a decision-making role. One personal hack I have is I have started relying on others in the leadership team to lead meetings on a rotational basis, thereby, letting everyone share the responsibility and avoid the problem of decision fatigue.

Also, since I now have additional time at my disposal, I have started taking a keen interest in design – a skill which I would like to hone. At Pine Labs, we are increasingly encouraging employees to take up a skill which is beyond their scope of work. Learning a new skill is an exciting way to keep ourselves busy and stay sharp in such challenging times.

Your coping strategy in these times of disruption:
Our entire team including our call centre is working from home. Our leadership and HR teams are engaged in keep them motivated and productive. We are also using this time to upskill and train our people. This week we are planning for 2000 hours of training, something we could not have done in the past.

A lasting leadership lesson the pandemic has taught you:
In my career spanning over two decades, I have never witnessed a crisis of this magnitude. Hence the current situation has taught me to remain calm – ability to detach from the noise around and think clearly about how one will navigate the situation at hand, confident – not only collate more information amidst the uncertain environment but also remain confident that organisation will find a way through this tough situation and quick – increasing optimism for quick turn-around.

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