Be Agile and Adaptable: Takeaways from the MAP CEO Conference
The global industry has experienced significant setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic, but the most important thing here is that our speakers and guests at the Philippine Management Association (MAP) International CEO Conference on September 13 on “The Gains of Change: Thriving in a World of In-Betweens” provided us with insights on how best to move forward. An overarching theme here is to be agile and adaptable.
In our first session, Mark Koziel of Allinial Global explained how to deal with blurry lines in a hybrid work setup. Crucial changes in the workplace, in an effort to combat widespread employee burnout, have led to a flexible management approach, such as listening to employee preference for a flexible model and the likelihood that organizations put talent at risk when full on-site work is implemented.
Koziel also discussed how technology, automation and outsourcing can affect organizational change. Technology alone cannot solve all our problems, but it can certainly help if used and managed well, especially if proper guidance and training opportunities are provided to the emerging workforce. His advice for establishing a responsive hybrid work setup – meaning empowering employees by collaborating on the right strategy and taking note of best practices in remote setups – is a welcome addition to our ongoing conversation on future-oriented working environments. Staffing issues, which plagued businesses long before the pandemic, can also benefit from points raised about technology, automation and outsourcing.
If we ensure that the culture surrounding a hybrid workforce is healthy, the Philippine business landscape is well on its way to creating a more resilient workforce.
The second session led by Stephen CuUnjieng gave us insight into a changed business landscape that aligns well with the challenges posed by the pandemic. What differentiates collapsing businesses from those that ride high waves? He showed that being proactive, through strategizing, planning and building, created increased business resilience. Instead of basic responses to events, those with solid strategies in place can lead their business through exceptionally difficult times. Good planning, instead of just reacting to events, has also proven effective. Finally, taking the time and effort to build businesses, instead of having a business mindset, will maximize opportunities for individual businesses and the national economy.
Overall, we cannot rely solely on our strategy and successful execution; we also have to take into account all the other factors that do not remain the same. Thus, our plans must be nourished, adapted or, if necessary, modified or abandoned. In short, our strategies and implementations will always need continuous improvement, no matter how perfect.
After this inspiring conversation, we listened to lawyer James Grandolfo, partner at Millbank LLP, explain how best to meet the challenges of the financial markets. Challenges facing the Philippine capital market, which has the oldest stock exchange but fewer listed stocks, include:
- streamline the registration process;
- expand the foreign capital base to help provide liquidity and improve prices for investors;
- develop policies to encourage state-owned and controlled companies to join the list;
- work on sustainable integration with global markets;
- develop independent and accountable regulators and create new ones such as a mortgage regulator;
- making rules and regulations transparent; and
- ensure that taxation encourages the development of capital markets.
Professor TY Sim, a former consultant to the United Nations, then gave an incredibly informative lecture on the national implications of long-term structural challenges for tax reforms, including three megatrends and policy directions in taxation. There is a tectonic shift in tax rates and the period of tax rate moderation seems to be coming to an end. However, the need to increase tax collection must be addressed. So the question is how to fill this gap, since corporate tax collection is only a small part of the total? Thus, more of the shortfall will have to be covered by other sources, such as personal income tax and consumption tax.
There is now a digital divide between digital leaders, like the United States and China, which dominate the internet space, and countries like France and India, which are not so e-commerce.
Since there is no tax without a physical presence, data could become the new factor. But the challenge is: how to tax the data? To level the playing field, there is a proliferation of digital services tax laws to capture some of the global profits in the absence of a digital transaction tax.
Hyper transparency: data is the “new oil”
With hyper transparency, authorities are more likely to know more about your business than you do. Sim concluded by asking the question: are our audit committees and CFOs aware of these issues, and are our tax functions prepared?
Nicolas Pascal, CEO and Executive Director of Blue Finance, explained how the future of businesses should be blue and green. A blue economy revolves around everything to improve marine conservation, working with coastal communities and other stakeholders to make it sustainable. He shared their experience as a social enterprise in Mindoro, where they are piloting a business that can produce environmental benefits while remaining sustainable. They fund the business through a blended finance mechanism, which involves both grants and debt instruments. Managed by a multidisciplinary team of marine scientists, philanthropists, impact investors and partners from development agencies and banks, they have been able to raise “passion” capital. It’s available. It’s possible.
Our day ended with Bhushan Sethi, Global Co-Leader for People and Organization at PwC in the US, addressing the hopes and fears of the global workforce. “The Big Quit” is seen as very real, with one in five employees likely to change employers, with Gen Z workers (aged 18-25) leading the movement.
In this world of in-between, it is important to take into account the remuneration but also the purpose and the authenticity, if we want to attract the best talents and retain them.
We also covered empowerment and skills, political and social issues in the workplace, the demand for transparency and the future of blended working. These points tell us what we can focus on in the coming years, because while the pandemic has slowed down, its effects, whether physical, mental or emotional, are here to stay, whether on our business, our employees or culture in general.
Where you’d think companies were so black and white, where work was done within the four walls of a tall building on the subway, those lines are now blurry. The job no longer exists in the same place. The existence of cloud networks and a shift in the mindset of workers has brought us to an in-between world where everyone is flexible, adaptable, and prone to change.
Our speakers and guests all talked about how best to approach and win in a changing landscape. I guess all we have to do now is ride this wave of change and hope for the best.
The author is Vice Chairman of the MAP CEO Conference Committee, Chairman of the MAP Health Committee and Chairman/CEO of the EON Group. Comments to [email protected] and [email protected]
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