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BW Businessworld

Unlocking Business– Journey Of A CEO

2020 is a major setback for the world. Individuals and businesses alike were brought to an interim standstill, with safety and well-being taking top priority for all.

Photo Credit : Panasonic India

2020 is a major setback for the world. Individuals and businesses alike were brought to an interim standstill, with safety and well-being taking top priority for all. The consumer durables industry too, bore the brunt, with manufacturing and operations on hold, losses accounting nearly 25% of annual sales; the summer season was a complete washout as well. With the onset of the festive season, the industry is hopeful to recover some of those losses. 

At Panasonic India, keeping ‘digital’ at the helm, we decided to recalibrate our strategies to ensure business sustainability in the new order. The first step here was to lead by example and therefore, I decided to resume office and formed - a COVID Task Force to ensure utmost safety at office premises. Heading the task force myself, the team’s responsibility was to review the situation real-time, create simulations around predictive initiatives for all stakeholders, and report back. Analyzing those insights, using collective wisdom, we created a robust strategy to combat the situation, following strict protocols.

After taking cautionary measures we recommenced our office under strict govt.guidelines. We practiced extreme restraints across all our offices – divided it in to three zones, ensuring social distancing, masks, temperature checks, sanitizers with restricted movements were ensured, biometric attendances were suspended and upgraded to facial attendance to name a few. We have even ensured segregated parking, lifts, pantries for all zones so there is minimal contact. The same procedures are being followed across retail touchpoints and manufacturing operations. Segregated zones, staggered shifts with extreme sanitization measures defined our operations at plants. Even raw material and finished goods now, undergo a full sanitization process to maintain higher safety standards. All these measures have resulted in containing the situation at Panasonic and, seamlessly continuing business. What started out as a shortage in demand for the industry soon shifted towards a shortage in supply for consumer electronics. With e-commerce deliveries, rural uptick and consumer preferences are shifting to value-based appliances for multi-tasking as demands are on a continuous rise. Meanwhile, the consumer durables industry can finally breathe a sigh of relief as it inches towards recovery.

During such testing times, I believe, it becomes imperative to ensure a sustained communication framework following the BASICS of leadership approach. Consistent and continuous communication with my stakeholders i.e., business partners, colleagues, and consumers helped me understand the challenges they were facing and find solutions. Today, when consumers are slowly getting accustomed to the new normal lifestyle with digitization, safety, and value proposition taking precedence; an omnichannel strategy will play a crucial role in helping sustain businesses. India still has a huge-opportunity wrt to consumer durables as refrigerators penetration stands at 34.1%, washing machines at 14.3%, and air conditioners at 4.8%. In my opinion, together we can capitalize on this opportunity and help contribute towards reviving the Indian economy. It is upon us as leaders to empathize with our stakeholders, at the same time have a clear vision as it will drive us towards the path to recovery.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Manish Sharma

Manish Sharma is the President & CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia

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