Leadership and stewardship during pandemic, a step to digital transformation to do actions that make sense and sustainable; to keep innovating to thrive during a crisis

Published October 16, 2020, 11:25 AM

by Enzo Luna

The outbreak of COVID-19 has challenged healthcare systems, adversely affected economies worldwide and sadly caused more than a million deaths to date. If there are silver linings to this health crisis, it is the fact that many have turned to innovation to survive it.

During this unprecedented health crisis, countries have become innovative, resourceful and creative in order to keep their economies running during the pandemic while keeping their citizens safe as governments try to flatten and bring down the curve.

Technological innovations are on the rise with businesses pivoting by digitalizing operations including transactions like contactless payments, online marketing and procurement, virtual meetings, among others. Given that digital transformation takes time, physical contact cannot be fully avoided. The need to control the spread of the virus has led also to the emergence of contract tracing apps that provide timely and accurate information on people at risk.

But other than the importance of digital transformation that will help people and the economy thrive, a great leadership and stewardship during this pandemic is a step to do actions that make sense and sustainable.

The crisis has also increased the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). Given this, local designers had to innovate and create better versions of PPEs while companies innovated by shifting production to produce PPEs in order to help meet the rising global demand.

The transportation sector has likewise pivoted quickly to help people commute safely during the pandemic. For example, protective shields were produced as added protection for motorcycle back riders.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCO) held a forum entitled: Innovating to Thrive During a Crisis and discussed how the Philippines has innovated successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic with speakers coming from the business and transportation sector, as well with telco and farming efforts that give support for many Filipinos striving during the crisis.

“I believe that leadership is really important. If there is ever time for the right self-giving leadership to show up, it’s now. I think being honest that you haven’t figured it all out is important. So, you have to be humble also be a pillar of stability and unity. The way a leader communicates needs to build rather than erodes trust. Listening is more important than talking. A leader has to be able to connect the dots, and that to clear set of next steps of not a direction. A leader needs to make people feel significant, and from that place of significance contribute to helping the company survive and evolve during the crisis,” said Donnie Tantoco III, president of Rustan Commercial Corporation, as he brought about the topic of leadership during this pandemic and how it affects all organizations through the ability to influence others.

As for Tantoco, Rustans commitment to its people reflects on how their organization endure the current circumstances and preparing for the long crisis. Being present for their stakeholders is an important factor to keep the employees and customers’ confidence and trusts.

Aside from the business sector, Angkas – the country’s most sought after motorcycle ride hailing transport have partnered with the government and academe to conduct a scientific evidence-base public health study on the viability of motorcycle taxis in the context of COVID-19.

George Royeca, Angkas chief transport advocate, is also one of the enabler of Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat – a private sectors’ communication advocacy campaign that is working  together with the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF), which aims to develop and build consumer confidence that will help restart the economy safely while the country continues to battle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Gabay Guro is PLDT’s flagship advocacy program for teachers spearheaded by PLDT-Smart Foundation and the PLDT Managers Club, Inc., was able to launch its e-Learning Super App, a collaboration with innovators to usher in the digital transformation of Philippines education during the pandemic and in the new normal.

Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT SVP & Group Controller, Smart Chief Finance Officer; concurrent PLDT Group Chief Sustainability Officer, believes the Gabay Guro platform will help teachers and students (and parents) in coping with the new normal.

The outbreak of the pandemic also gave birth to AGREA Rescue Kitchen (ARK), a project of Cherrie Atilano who is the Founding Farmer, CEO and President of AGREA Agricultural Systems International, Inc., a for-purpose and inclusive business, that is creating the first replicable one-island economy that is zero hunger, zero waste, and zero insufficiency, – through the ‘Ecology of Dignity’ approach.

The Rescue kitchen attached to the Move Food Initiative started to utilize the ugly vegetables and fruits, and convert them to value-adding products for additional income whilst in crisis.

Leaning towards technology and innovations, Noel Bonoan, Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Head of Advisory, KPMG Philippines, expressed his confidence on building Intelligent Automaton (IA) to empower rapid end-to-end business process automation and accelerate digital transformation.

In a global overview, Bonoan shared that the State of Deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) ranked 1st in the solution to efficiency and ranked 3rd for emerging technology implementations.

It is a known fact that AI could shift the competitive landscape and will boost the growth of enterprise demand. As of the present, AI deployment has made impact across industries such as technology, financial services, retail, healthcare, and transportation.

COVID-19 pushed different organizations to optimize their resources where challenges have beset the country, and it is timely that suggested solutions are shared during the webinar that can work and implement by different organizations to innovate as the pandemic continues.

“We have intimately taken into facing this as a challenge of what COVID-19 has brought upon, we hope that by having innovation mindset we can claim back the life (pre-pandemic) that can work for all of us,” said Amor Maclang, Co-Founder at GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications and Globally Awarded Reputation & Brand Architect; Risk Issues & Crisis Expert; Marketing & Communications Innovator Sustainability, Technology Evangelist, who was also the moderator during the ECCP webinar forum.