CXO of the Week: Manoj Kohli, Country Head, SoftBank India, SoftBank Group International

By : |May 6, 2020 0

CyberMediaResearch, as part of its HP Business Be Unstoppable web series, conducted a webinar where Manoj Kohli, Country Head, SoftBank India, SoftBank Group International and Pradeep Gupta, Chairman Managing Director of CyberMedia Group, had a discussion on the current Covid-19 crisis. More than 1000 people attended the webinar and there were hundreds of audience question. Here is a summary of the event…

Manoj Kohli: We have taken the theme as Be Unstoppable. That’s the theme we need in times of coronavirus. We will definitely survive, as the first two months have shown. We now have to turn the business challenge into something better, bigger. As soon as the vaccine comes, 6-9 months, we have proposed to take advantage of this opportunity. We can reset the society, business to something new.

There are four-five shifts. The first is oil prices. It has come down from $60 to $20 and below. There are electric vehicles. Next, how is China being addressed by the world? The world wants +1 and +2, beyond China. This will happen with India leading the charge. We are good in automotives. The third is digital business. All towns and villages will improve further. Many startups and companies are using 3G/4G infrastructure. India will also benefit due to globalization. US, Europe, Korean suppliers will come to India as there is a huge domestic market. India also has a chance to move the unorganized economy into an organized economy. India will become much stronger, bigger, with time.

At this time, you have to conserve cash, and avoid wastage. We have to avoid frugality. We have to be empathetic toward people, and be hopeful. Many companies are also planning new products and new entries. In 6 months, many companies will go that route.

Next, the big factor is digitization. Is my business digitized? If companies do not digitized, they will be left behind. Many companies will adopt new business models, that are online and offline. Models need to be changed, need to be profitable, and be digitized.

There will be new products created for new consumers. Many small towns have several housewives, do online shopping from websites. People will utilize the Internet to do shopping. The earlier products were more offline and more physical. This is also the time to cover new markets.

There should also be a new performance culture. The speed, execution, decision-making process of the company will all come into play. There will also be rebranding—inside and outside the company.

This is big test for everyone. Leaders have to take tough calls on survival. The government is opening up green zones in May. Leaders have to also be very sensitive to people. They have to emphatic to people. People are long-term assets. Give them hope and optimism. Every month we go into, will be better than last month. This is the time to build a solid team. Teams work very well during constraints, as we have seen over the past two months. Today competition and consumer awareness will be high. Leaders have to be agile. They have to be flexible and adaptable. Leaders who are humble and authentic, and real, and also share vulnerabilities with the others, will do well.

Self-management will also be important. They have to also manage their attitude. These are the tests every leader has to pass. These are all leadership testing grounds. Countries and leaders will be unstoppable if they can give new ideas, lead fresh, and adopt new ways of working, business models, etc. These will make the company future proof.

Pradeep Gupta: Never let a good crisis go to waste. A lot of companies are struggling. How do they re-engineer themselves?

Manoj Kohli: This situation will definitely pass. Are we looking at a V-shaped recovery? This last five weeks was very unique period in the history of the world. The next five weeks will be far better. We cannot have such long lockdowns that will harm the Indian economy, and the global economy. Recover will happen. Being a consumption led economy, the recovery will be much faster. The agriculture sector in Punjab has seen record harvest. Record foodgrains are coming to the FCI godowns. Railways and airlines will slowly open up. The Indian consumption will also come back.

Leaders need to eliminate wasteful expenditure. There are meetings in London for two hours. If you do a two-hour videoconference, it is 1-2 percent of the cost. There are hundreds of such bad habits that companies have built. Leaders have to also be very sensitive to the habits of people. Those who are poor performers, there is nothing to say. Those who are performers, you need to retain them, and be sensitive. A good performing employee you will never get back. Provide a great future to the team.

Pradeep Gupta: How is the energy sector doing? Are we seeing a shift from oil-based economies?

Manoj Kohli: The train has left the station. The fossil has to be phased out. It is already being phased out in some countries. India’s RE targets are second, after China. We are aiming 200GW by 2022. It is making progress. Automotive is also linked. EVs are the future. Petrol, diesel usage will start coming down. Single biggest industrial transformation will happen in the next decade or two – power and automotive. Our children deserve this, as do our plants and the environment.

Pradeep Gupta: Do you see supply chains being disturbed?

Manoj Kohli: Non essentials are currently not moving. Rail will move sometime later. Red zones will have restrictions where supply chains will be impacted. In the month of May, you will see more workmen will come back. Supplies from the red zone will also pick up sometime later. The government is eager to start them with social distancing norms.

Pradeep Gupta: Government support to the SMEs?

Manoj Kohli: The government and the RBI have already announced 3-4 packages. More will be coming in the days ahead. The daily wagers are being supported with food. SMEs are also being helped. The support should continue till things get back to normalcy. Suppliers and vendors have to be supported during the rainy days.

Pradeep Gupta: How are sectors going to revive?

Manoj Kohli: Manufacturing—short term, it will come back very fast. Luxury goods will take time. Government will support airlines, hospitality. The global tourism will also take time to recover. Education—it will recover very fast. Colleges and schools are open. All of them have created online classrooms. Financial markets will also open much faster.

Pradeep Gupta: Should we start thinking business from fresh?

Manoj Kohli: If you start being defensive, you will face problems. The company will be far stronger and far better. This is also a blessing in disguise given to us by God. IT will emerge stronger now. ITeS will also grow. Cost efficiency of India and the Philippines is very good.

Pradeep Gupta: Room for underground infrastructure?

Manoj Kohli: Telecom and digital will surely grow. We need to do more in the digital health space. Telemedicine will also undergo a major transformation like education. There are many other ways that business can be done.

To watch the complete webinar, please click here.

No Comments so fars

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.