retreat during covid

Contributed by Madhavan Sivashankar, chief govt officer and founder, Gulf International Finance Limited. Sivashankar has been a member of EO UAE since October 2020. 

“Life’s not about how exhausting of successful you may give. It’s about what number of you may take, and nonetheless maintain shifting ahead.” ― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

When my enterprise plans took a major flip in March 2020, owing to lockdowns carried out to forestall the unfold of Covid 19, my preliminary feeling was regret. Time, they are saying, heals and for entrepreneurs like us, it make us assume after which act!

Once I regarded up the phrase “resilience,” I discovered that I had the definition mistaken. Its which means is the capability to get better rapidly from difficulties. I all the time felt that it meant insulating oneself from issues. A fallacy.

I personal and run a regulated monetary companies agency primarily based within the UAE’s Dubai Worldwide Monetary Centre, a high-cost jurisdiction even by world requirements. Day-after-day with out income is a pressure. I usually regard monetary companies because the infantry of a military. We get the glory in good occasions however face the brunt in risky occasions. Covid has been no completely different.

The teachings we have now realized embrace:

1. Don’t be shy to retreat. 
2. Cut back restoration time when the atmosphere begins getting higher.
3. Deal with new and modern strategies to work digitally.


For the primary time in my ‘capitalistic’ upbringing, the place progress all the time meant shifting ahead, I did the alternative, I retreated.

• Considerably transformed worker fastened compensation to variable
• Met debtors and requested leniency
• Maintained tight reserves akin to our forefathers making ready for lengthy chilly winters.

While this was occurring, although, I used to be always reminded by what one among our guru’s Mr. Buffet stated, “Be grasping when others are fearful” and the entrepreneur in me began pondering, why have company income been remarkably resilient in latest a long time?

Whereas GDP within the developed world has grown a sturdy 3.6 p.c yearly since 1990 (in nominal phrases), company web earnings over the identical interval has grown virtually twice as quick, or 7 p.c per 12 months. Firms in developed markets have churned out income at a historic tempo, regardless of huge financial dislocations just like the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and the worldwide monetary disaster eight years later.

Terrorism, immigration crises, Brexit, continual geopolitical instability―none of it has managed to derail what has been a golden age of company profitability. Then it dawned on me that this too will go.


Doing Agile Right is a must-read that illustrates how corporations are adapting in extraordinary methods to outlive and succeed. However spur-of-the-moment agility is fragile.

The e book lays out a street map for main transformation to a really agile enterprise. The secret’s stability, permitting leaders to concurrently run their enterprise and alter gears on the similar time. You don’t all the time want to hurry; typically you should decelerate.

We invested in on-line applied sciences and proceed to take action, to enhance communication and its periodicity. We realised that by pondering “agile” we had been capable of introduce it to virtually each facet of our enterprise—whether or not it’s consumer communication, doc management, information storage, extra centered gross sales or higher productiveness from workers.

Each group should optimize and tightly management sure operations. On the similar time, each group should innovate. Agility, finished properly, frees and facilitates vigorous innovation with out sacrificing the effectivity and reliability important to conventional operations.

Rework to Digital

My message to fellow entrepreneurs is that going digital is sector, dimension and enterprise agnostic. Easy processes may be modified to make your group extra environment friendly. For instance:

1. We now have tasked ourselves to be 90 p.c paper free by 30 June 2021. Therefore, all our information shall be in a safe digital information room, all agreements digitally ready and so on.
2. We encourage all conferences to be carried out digitally. It will increase comfort, reduces virus danger, is extra environment friendly and is value efficient. In actual fact, Microsoft has a starter pack in our area which incorporates e mail communication, storage, utility entry and video calling—multi functional, so overheads may be lowered noticeably.
3. Assign course of champions: odd workers who pick an current course of within the office and give you ideas on how it may be recast in a extra environment friendly method. We now have already obtained nice suggestions and work is underway. This method additionally improves worker motivation and loyalty in our expertise.
4. Reward suggestions which migrate guide work to any type of AI, machine studying, digital actuality, IoT and predictive and prescriptive analytics—and most vital, the impression of those on consumer and worker journeys, new companies planning and fulfilment, enterprise processes and folks expertise and tradition.

Covid 19 has taught me to retreat and relook at our enterprise mannequin and practices. Nonetheless, as soon as absolutely re-engineered, I really feel assured that our group shall be way more resilient.

Madhavan Sivashankar is the CEO and founding father of Gulf International Finance Limited, a regulated agency primarily based within the Dubai Worldwide Finance Centre.