Covid-19: Business leaders should show knowledge & empathy

Abhay Singhal, Founder, InMobi Group & CEO, InMobi Marketing Cloud, agrees that Covid-19 has taught him to expect the unexpected. He opines that companies must practice resilience during these transition phases to overcome obstacles smoothly and build a genuine connection with customers.

Abhay Singhal

TPCI: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact InMobi in the initial days till the lockdown was announced?

Abhay Singhal: As an organisation, we came together quickly and worked on multiple tracks, prioritizing employee safety and engagement, customer empathy, business continuity and timely communication. Being a globally distributed organization, we experienced the impact of the virus first in China. At that point, the rest of the world was largely unaffected. We took immediate proactive measures in China to ensure the safety of our employees and their families by facilitating work from home, procuring masks, etc. In parallel, we worked to ensure that our infrastructure, systems, tools and connectivity links continue to provide uninterrupted service to our customers. Now that China has sprung back resolutely, we are leveraging our learnings from that market as we deal with pandemic across the globe.

TPCI: How do you expect them to impact your business in the coming days and the financial year?

Abhay Singhal: The situation has unfortunately been worsening, and no one knows how events will unfold in the coming weeks and months. In fact, data from the U.S. shows that the percentage of people who feel optimistic about the economy has dropped from 50% to about 33% in two weeks – and it continues to dip. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the effects of the pandemic will probably last for a long time to come.

It is undeniable that the financial impact of the pandemic is going to be massive. InMobi Group, too, is feeling the impact. Our strong geographical spread across the U.S., Middle East, APAC and ANZ, and the sequential nature of the outbreak, has helped cushion the impact for InMobi Group.

TPCI: How is InMobi endeavouring to ensure smooth operations of its business during the lockdown?

Abhay Singhal: We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the needs of our customers and partners are met, and that our staff members have what they need to provide this level of support and help. We have been sending regular communications over email and social media, including a March 13 email that I personally sent to all of our global customers and partners. All of our infrastructure worldwide is based in the cloud, which ensures we are able to provide total business continuity from a technology perspective.

Of course, none of this would be possible without our loyal and fearless clan. To ensure InMobians are able to provide a high level of service and support, we’ve taken a number of steps on our end. Employees are provided with timely guidance on the next steps amidst the lockdown. InMobi leaders are encouraged to take additional care of their teams to ensure smooth operations. The importance of timely communication is evoked among all InMobians to make sure that all the teams are aligned with the business objectives while working remotely. We’ve also implemented a regular wellness webinar series, to make sure that staff have the tools and support they need to work at a high level.

At InMobi, we are going that extra mile to ensure that our customer concerns are addressed effectively by being available on social channels, posting relevant insights on the pandemic for various regions to creates awareness, and proactively communicating with them on a regular basis.

TPCI: COVID-19 is rightly considered a black swan event of epic proportions, which no one could have predicted till a few weeks ago. What key lessons can the industry learn from this crisis to prepare for such events in the future?

Abhay Singhal: We are truly living in unprecedented times. All of us are dealing with this event at a very human level. Right now, I am very focused on taking the time to let our partners, clients and staff know that we are here for them as we all try to navigate through this uncertainty.

From a more traditional business lens, a key learning for me is to expect the unexpected. Industry leaders should be open to face the situation with knowledge and empathy, and to really understand the need of the hour. Entrepreneurs and industry leaders must practice resilience during the transition phases to overcome obstacles smoothly and really build a genuine connection with customers.

TPCI: What critical steps will be necessary as companies return to normal post the lockdown, in your view? How are you strategizing the same to ensure business continues while catering to the well-being of employees?

Abhay Singhal: Effective communication on preventative measures is imperative to manage the crisis. Employees are the core pillars of the organization, and we are looking at their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our internal teams are taking necessary measures to understand the vulnerabilities amidst the pandemic and are addressing them by urging employees to practice mindfulness, conducting webinars and one-on-one sessions on creating awareness, navigating through ambiguity, alleviating stress, ensuring personal and family wellness, collaboration, engagement and more during the pandemic.

TPCI: What role can the private sector play in getting the economy back on its feet post the lockdown period? What suggestions does InMobi have in this regard?

Abhay Singhal: Sustainability is key to the private sector’s growth; the longer a company can survive with minimal impact during the crisis, the longer it can contribute to the economy. Entrepreneurs must facilitate business growth through the right partnerships, emphasize greater inclusiveness of and for employees, stakeholders and partners, and collaborate with the industry to facilitate stronger business advancements that backs the country’s growth and provide new employment opportunities that help foster economic growth.

Abhay Singhal is the Co-Founder of InMobi Group and the CEO of InMobi Marketing Cloud, a company whose mission is to power intelligent, mobile-first experiences on connected devices. Abhay drives the company’s global business, enabling the world’s leading brands to reach over 1.3 billion people in over 190 countries. Prior to his current role as CEO, he held several different executive positions within InMobi including Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Human Resources. Abhay was recognized as one of India’s most influential and impactful young business leaders by the Economic Times 40-Under-Forty in 2018. During his time as CRO, Abhay drove record revenue growth globally across China, APAC and the U.S. markets, helping InMobi be recognised as one of the 50 most disruptive companies by both CNBC and MIT Technology Review. Abhay received his Bachelor’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT). He is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

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