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Q&A: 10 leaders and their response to COVID-19

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Q&A: 10 Leaders and Their Response to COVID-19 - ©iStockphoto.com/jacoblund

“Firms that took specific action entering the last economic turn then exited the turn stronger and more focused, and they exploited this leadership in the following years. These winners reacted fast, conserved cash and were ready to invest when others were not.” - Gartner1

Between the dotcom bubble, the financial crash and now the COVID-19 pandemic — organizations should continually look for ways to adapt and seek opportunities to come out stronger. During times of economic uncertainty, the strategic plans of businesses and their ability to adapt are put to the test as they go into combat or survival mode.

Each year, many industries go through periods of uncertainty due to events beyond their control. Therefore, businesses should always have a risk management plan in place. They must be able to address questions such as, “How do we mitigate threats?” “How can opportunities be exploited?” “How do we grow sustainably?” and so on.

What it takes to survive a major crisis

Threats come in many forms: digital disruption, merger and acquisitions, security breaches, new competitors with different business models, industry-changing technologies, shifts in consumer demand and so on.

The ability to respond in times of increased uncertainty isn’t just about having a cash reserve. It also requires high-performing teams and the right technology to execute a well-planned business strategy.

In times of crisis, organizations must also ensure alignment across departments and amongst its people, as everyone must move in the same direction. This alignment comes from a confident and strong executive leadership team that:

  • Communicates a clear and consistent vision and strategy
  • Anticipates opportunities and threats before they happen
  • Takes risks, not chances, for long-term growth
  • Cultivates a cultural mindset that values flexibility and change

Q & A with experts

Contentserv interviewed leaders from all over the world to share their insights on what they're investing in to come out of the turn stronger, what opportunities for positive change they’ve found and some words of wisdom that we could all use today.

Q1: What are you investing in during this time of economic uncertainty?


“Our key differentiator is our people. Therefore, our number one investment during the downturn is in updating training for our teams. Specific areas of investment include cloud, machine learning, extended commerce systems, master data management, and integration.”
Greg Wong, Pivotree

Online presence

“We are a young analyst company; therefore, we’re using the time to expand our web presence and are currently investing in the development of a new online market overview.”
Jürgen Burger, SIMIO

Crisis management

“We are focusing on what we are doing more than ever before. In the current time of crisis, it is important to have or build a mindset for a paradigm shift and develop a crisis vision that stands before the current vision during tough times. It is equally important to be agile and flexible so that you can quickly react to changes.”
Michael Kugler, parsionate

New business models

“We’re working on concepts and new business models for our customers to support their business in the crisis, as well as after.”
Stefan Herold, Osudio

Employee and customer support

“The most important thing for us is to invest in our employees and to offer genuine support to our customers and partners.”
Martin Philipp, Evalanche

Q2: What are some opportunities for positive change that you’re finding during this time?

Training and workshops

“We have already conducted several workshops and training sessions where it would have been unthinkable not to conduct them onsite. Fortunately, the feedback has been extremely positive.”
Sven Henckel, Laudert GmbH + Co. KG

Content production

“Providing new types of support for customers via content production to strengthen their digital capabilities.”
Claus Hänle, Listen Consulting

Strategic partnerships

“Building more strategic partnerships and agile products to support the changing business landscape.”
Emile Bloemen, Productsup

Customer focus

“Our motto as a company is to help our customers adapt relentlessly. Never has there been a time where this has been as important for our customers as now. The positive of this pandemic for us has been to force us not just to state our motto, but to truly live it.”
Greg Wong, Pivotree


“We are expecting increased innovation in creative content creation, and methods of connecting with audiences in a personalized manner that is away from the ‘norm’ of digital marketing.”
Derick Price, Big Button I/O


“The awareness of how digital-ready you are as an organization on a holistic level — your people, processes and technology — to quickly adapt to uncertainties in the market. This awareness alone has already improved the way we operate and highlighted areas for positive change.”
Patricia Kastner, Contentserv

Q3: Any words of wisdom you’d like to share that can help other businesses?

“Think positive! Don’t think about the lack of acceptance or willingness to participate in web conferences used to be. Divide all-day workshops into several topics and easily spread over several days.”
Sven Henckel, Laudert GmbH + Co. KG

“With the right strategy and authentic communication, companies will demonstrate their strength of character. Only if they position themselves openly and purposefully will they be a point of contact and stabilizer for their customers in the crisis. And when everything is over, those who were actively visible on the market during the difficult time, and not those who suddenly disappeared from the scene, will be remembered.”
Martin Philipp, Evalanche

“In times of crisis, protect your people and they will protect the business.”
Greg Wong, Pivotree

“To make the best in these challenging times, it is important to work closely together to support each other, our customers and society as a whole.”
Emile Bloemen, Productsup

“It has become clear that the economic model, as we know it, does not bring lasting stability. By a chain of unfavorable circumstances or simply by surprise, the efforts of economic and political decision-makers around the world prove time and again: you can do everything right and still lose in the end. In this sense, our life is not controllable. We always have a chance or even the necessity to do things in a new and different way. Sometimes we are forced by a virus to question our normality, but maybe we can also learn through this crisis, our ability to change.”
Michael Fieg, parsionate

We weren’t able to include all the responses in this article. Still, after reading them, it was clear that supporting customers in a time of crisis is a top priority, along with investing in people and strengthening partnerships.

My advice is to prepare, invest in your people and take risks, not chances.

#allinthistogether #businesscontinuity

[1] Source - Gartner: Winning in the Turns: A Tech CEO Action Guide