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Three major takeaways that corporate India has learned from the ongoing covid-19 pandemic are safety of employees are more important than the company’s financials, cycle time for any decision making can be cut down during emergencies, and the board of directors need to give leeway to the chief executive for decision making, said management guru and business advisor Ram Charan, who advises several top companies.

Speaking at the Mint India Investment Summit 2021, he said the pandemic has taught companies important lessons, including the importance of caring for the physical and mental well-being of employees. According to Ram Charan, it has been established that the cycle time (of a product) can be reduced. Vaccine manufacturers coming out with jabs for coronavirus in less than a year, compared to the earlier normal of eight years, proves that, he added.

“Don’t use and consume CEO’s time beyond the bare essential because he/she has got a lot to do (during the pandemic)." However, the board of directors play a crucial role in decision making, especially when companies have liquidity issues and some tough decisions are needed to be made, Ram Charan added.

He said many companies were impacted during the pandemic and failed to have connections with customers.

Companies will also need to think how to come out from the pandemic thinking of how exponential growth could be achieved, he added. “Every leader (and chief executives) will have to deal with the present by keeping their feet on the ground and building the future while confronting the realities of today."

Charan is also an independent director at ReNew Power, a leading Indian renewable energy company.

Companies across the globe have suffered due the pandemic, which has not only impacted key markets and economies but also led to a health crisis.

Speaking at the summit, Sumant Sinha, chairman and managing director, ReNew Power, said the company’s priorities have had a huge shift since the beginning of the pandemic early last year. “At the beginning when we faced a lockdown (in March-May 2020), there were lots of uncertainties....As we progressed, we realised that it’s not that bad in terms of business and we even started looking out for opportunities. However, the last two months have been a tremendous setback," Sinha said, adding that employee well-being, both physical and mental, have become the focus for his company during the pandemic.

“We have allocated money (for the pandemic), and the board has been supportive. We are doing this because it’s the right thing to do and not because it’s good for business."

Top management and company boards should aspire to show return on investment while solving the various ESG (environmental, social, and governance) issues, Ram Charan said. “The most difficult part is not resource allocation, but changing of (existing) habits," he added.

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