EXCLUSIVE | Amit Adarkar, Ipsos India: A year of resilience [Year-Ender 2020]

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Amit Adarkar, CEO — Ipsos India, is a veteran with more than  two decades of experience spanning MNCs and Indian market research companies, and is an alumnus of XLRI – Jamshedpur, and IIT – Mumbai.

In this exclusive piece Adarkar writes about the insights 2020 gave him on how people cope with change and crisis, about his fascination with the long-term impacts of the pandemic, and how he perceives business will change in the new normal. And, among other things, how 2020 has given him a philosophic bent of mind. And more.

Read on.

“Change is the only constant” is an oft-quoted platitude. Any leader, or for that matter, everyone faces change all the time. But 2020 took this quote to another level. 2020 has and will continue to have a huge far-reaching impact on the way we work, travel, eat, shop. Nothing will remain the same ever.

The impact related to the future of work, telecommuting, fast digitization-adoption, emerging business models will be felt over the next many years. For me, 2020 was the biggest year of learning.

I am sure that COVID related news or keywords would have been top-of-mind for most people in 2020. I would put ‘Resilience’ as my top of mind word for 2020. I first encountered ‘resilience’ as a concept in a purely engineering context (an object can retain shape or not rupture when under pressure). It is only in 2020 that ‘resilience’ as a concept has fully played out in a psychological context — how does one recover from, or adjust to change?

Some looked at the pandemic as an opportunity to introspect, upskill, and move ahead. Some grumbled, worried and dragged themselves through the pandemic. Some acquired poise. Some lost it. COVID certainly tested our true mettle. 2020 allowed me to reset my priorities and achieve a better balance: Amit Adarkar

Individuals, leaders and businesses that displayed resilience in 2020 are set to do well in the coming years. To me, resilience is like a muscle. Once you train it, it will deliver even when one comes out of crises mode. Just the way we need immunity building products or vaccines to build physical immunity, resilience to me is a vaccine for the mind. 2020 showed me the meaning and true manifestation of resilience.

2020 has given me fresh insights into how people cope with change and crisis. Some showed resilience and in fact, thrived on uncertainty. Others took in the changes in a not-so-nice way.

Some looked at the pandemic as an opportunity to introspect, upskill, and move ahead. Some grumbled, worried & dragged themselves through the pandemic. Some acquired poise. Some lost it. COVID certainly tested our true mettle. 2020 allowed me to reset my priorities and achieve a better balance.

Things that matter

2020 helped me truly appreciate the value of things that matter — such as taking time off to self-reflect, and prioritize the important over the urgent.

2020 helped me in taking charge of my time. It also gave me a new perspective on what not to do. For example, let’s take business travel. I used to travel every 10-15 days for business meetings with employees and clients. After almost 8 months of no business travel, I have resolved to cut down on my business travel even after the COVID threat is behind us.

Only a crisis forces us to challenge the status quo and start asking fundamental questions instead of just going with the flow: Amit Adarkar

Only a crisis forces us to challenge the status quo and start asking fundamental questions instead of just going with the flow. 2020 made me realize that there are things that matter and there are others that just don’t. It also made me realize that there are things you can control, and things you cannot.

They say that crisis breeds leaders. I would say that crisis breeds philosophers, with me being the latest addition to the likes of Plato, Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius. During the lockdown and after, I have become a big fan of the stoic school of philosophy.

I realized that 2020 has allowed us to take charge of two things that are key to happiness — having some ‘own’ time to reflect and having control over things that can be controlled. 2020 has further reinforced my belief that happiness is a state and not a pursuit.

About business &  marketing

When we think of 2020 or COVID, we look at the obvious signs — people wearing masks, sanitizer-usage, temperature-checks, frequent hand-washing, etcetera. Many people are wondering if these will continue in perpetuity.

To me, these were the most visible and early manifestations of the pandemic in 2020. They will certainly exist for some time, at least till vaccination covers a substantial population, but I am fascinated by the long-term impact of 2020, which will endure for many years.

2020 has made us realize that remote working is not such a bad idea… This change will have a far-reaching impact on travel and consumption patterns, infrastructure at home, product- and and media consumption, the environment, etcetera. As leaders, we need to start factoring these impacts into our planning: Amit Adarkar

2020 has made us realize that remote working is not such a bad idea. Let’s assume that after the pandemic has gone, 30% of companies encourage 30% of their employees to work remotely on any given day. This change will have a far-reaching impact on travel and consumption patterns, infrastructure at home, product- and media consumption, environment, etc. As leaders, we all need to start factoring in these impacts into our planning.

In sum, 2020 was a singularity and a much-needed wake-up call to re-boot our personal and professional lives, to live a content life.

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