Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO, Mirum India, is a respected entrepreneur and industry leader who specializes in sales, marketing, HR, finance and operations. Mirum India is Hareesh’s third entrepreneurial venture, where he works to identify opportunities that include harnessing the potential of teams to capitalize on them.
Hareesh has been a speaker at many prestigious industry events such as Dachis Social Business Summit – Singapore, Assocham Conference on E-commerce, NHRDN Summit of Social Media for HR, Etailing Summit on Social Media for E-tail, ETNow Summit on Digital Consumer Behaviour, and has been recognized as Digital Marketeer of the Year by the World Brand Congress.
Writing exclusively for MediaBrief, Hareesh reflects how COVID-19 made him realise how ‘fragile and hostile our planet is’ and about the power of collaboration and proactive leadership, and also shares his learnings and life-lessons from 2020.
What did 2020 teach me?
2020 obviously has been a year like none before. As we turn the leaf into 2021, all of us would have walked away with some interesting learnings and life-lessons from this year. Here are mine:
If on one hand, we saw the power of the virus, on the other hand, we also saw the power of global collaboration in developing a vaccine in less than a year… When faced with adversity, we humans tend to come as one and respond to challenges. This was a brilliant example of the same: Hareesh Tibrewala
Fragility of our Planet
We live on a planet which is indeed very fragile. Over centuries, we have learned how to build structures like buildings and bridges and dams. And yet when the elements of nature take over, we are completely helpless. From time-to-time, we experience earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and droughts. And with all our technological prowess we are helpless against the fury of nature.
In 2020 we experienced the power of a faceless enemy: the virus…something that has the capability of permeating all our man-made defenses and rendering us so vulnerable. Even as we were struggling with the virus, there was a particular month when there was the threat of locust swarms and we saw pictures of how the locus swarmed and overwhelmed some cities in North India.
All this made me realise how fragile (and indeed how hostile) our planet is. And unless we learn to respect Nature, we are setting ourselves up for a conflict in which we are certainly going to be the loser.
Viruses are here to stay
While dealing with the Coronaviruses, examples from the Spanish flu that happened a hundred years back were constantly being cited. The fact of life is that the Coronavirus-like situations are now actually going to be more frequent. In this century itself we saw SARS, MERS, and Ebola.
It is just that they were all localized, so we did not see a global impact as we saw in the case of COVID-19. But with our modern food habits and much more frequent cross-country travel, a virus outbreak in one part of the world, will no longer be a localized event. The concept of localized lockdowns, masks, health certification prior to global travel…all of these are nowhere to stay.
Just like 9/11 bought in the concept of “security-check” to keep public spaces safe, COVID-19 has bought in the concept of “health-check” to ensure public safety
The Power of Collaboration
If on one hand, we saw the power of the virus, on the other hand, we also saw the power of global collaboration in developing a vaccine in less than a year. Quick and substantial funding in the form of project Warp-Speed, global collaboration across vaccine manufacturers, and the emergence of a new vaccine development platform using mRNA (like the one developed by Moderna), is nothing short of a scientific miracle.
When faced with adversity, we humans tend to come as one and respond to challenges. This was a brilliant example of the same. While on one hand, viruses are going to be become more frequent, on the other hand, a Moderna kind of platform could also help in bringing solutions.
Tough situations demand proactive leadership…Even in the toughest of situations, exemplary leadership demands being truthful, however difficult the reality be; and at the same time keeping everyone motivated, however unclear the road ahead may be: Hareesh Tibrewala
Tough situations demand proactive leadership. This is true for countries; this is true for businesses and this is true for families. Even in the toughest of situations, exemplary leadership demands being truthful, however difficult the reality be; and at the same time keeping everyone motivated, however unclear the road ahead may be.
I remember watching a video by the CEO in Marriot Hotels in early April (who despite suffering from a life-threatening illness, decided to deliver the message to his people himself rather than depute someone else to send out a difficult message). And in this video, he very honestly accepts that this is the most challenging moment of this career and for the organization, but he will try his hardest, despite his personal illness, to navigate the company through this difficult time.
Another learning was that good leadership demands quick and courageous decision-making. Announcing a lockdown when numbers in India were still low was indeed a courageous decision by the Indian Prime Minister. Bringing the wheels of the economy to a grinding halt for 5 weeks must have been the toughest decision of his career. And in hindsight, it looks like his decision did well for the country.