Trust in employees has become the key to successful business management during the coronavirus crisis along with the ability to make quick decisions and urgently adapt to new conditions. During the conference for talented students "Management of the Future", organized by the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM SPbU), the leaders of the largest Russian companies discussed the competencies and experience gained during the pandemic.
One of the main issues remains the transition to online work — this experience was so unique and impressive. Participants of the conference "Management of the Future" discussed specific cases of companies. Vadim Kulik, Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank, spoke about how the bank, in parallel with the implementation of a large-scale technological transformation, urgently rebuilt processes to work remotely. Despite the difficulties, by the end of 2020, the number of technological implementations at VTB increased by more than 50% and amounted to over 30,000. “In a pandemic, when no one else knew how to act best, we were able to quickly reorganize and make a real breakthrough. What helped us? These were people, their attitude and commitment to achieving results. I had to make non-trivial decisions very quickly and even spontaneously. For example, urgently bought laptops right in stores. This gave a result, for example, at the beginning of the pandemic, we increased the number of remote workplaces more than five times in a month. By the end of 2020, we not only implemented everything that we had planned, but also exceeded the indicators,” he said.
Some industries lost part of their profits during the pandemic and they had to reform the product. Alexander Sobolev, Director of Strategy and Business Development at PJSC Megafon, noted: “Previously, roaming was an important source of income for the telecom industry. Since the beginning of the pandemic, its use has declined significantly. Our clients began to count more carefully and to choose tariffs more consciously. In this regard, we have reassembled service packages and formed more attractive and affordable offers, launched the #NoOverpayments tariff line. We were also focusing on digital services for b2b and b2c segments, launching new products in the field of cybersecurity, cloud services, video conferencing, based on CDN technology”.
Pharmaceutical companies were in a special situation: some were faced with the need to develop new products for fast time-to-market, while maintaining full production of essential drugs. Dmitry Morozov, General Director, BIOCAD noted that against the background of these complex tasks, the support of the team's efficiency turned out to be of paramount importance: “In emergency situations, the rules of life are different: you need to quickly make decisions, launch new products. But in pharmaceuticals, the process is long, some tasks are solved for years. In this situation it was especially important for us to maintain a balance, maintain a team and help employees not to burnout."
For petrochemicals, in 2020, the task of operational management of production flows and supply chains came to the fore, and SIBUR coped with the transfer to remote work quickly and without downtime. Alisa Melnikova, General Director of SIBUR Digital LLC, said that in order to cope with tasks in a new work format, it was necessary to very quickly teach thousands of people to use new technologies. For example, “before the production planning cycle took weeks and months, and during a pandemic, when decisions in different countries were made in a matter of days and hours, for example, borders were closed and opened, client enterprises stopped or started, we learned to manage the situation faster with the help of optimal technologies, data-driven supply management, predict quotes for our products in different markets. Before the pandemic people in production and management were skeptical about digital tools and often preferred not to use them, during the crisis they were forced to start using these tools, and now they cannot imagine working without them. Among other things, this is an augmented reality platform for interacting with remote experts during production work, a platform and sensors of the Industrial Internet of Things, which allow diagnosing the state of equipment without human intervention, and many other Industry 4.0 tools."
Another issue of the panel session was the change in the management style and the introduction of agile. Olga Dergunova, Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank, Director of GSOM SPbU, noted that business processes have changed even at the university: flexible management systems have become a daily routine in a conservative academic environment. “The faculty at the university turned out to be an amazing cohort of people who are ready to change regardless of age. They began to gather in teams, discuss ways to solve problems, feel and understand the advantages of a digital educational environment. And now they will use these technologies,” she stressed.
Speaking about the changing of the strategy, Andrey Laptev, Director of Business Development and Corporate Venture Projects of PJSC Severstal, shared the opinion that predicting helps to better understand the company position, the world around and make the right decisions, even though predicting the future is now practically impossible. He also stated: “We are seeing the trend towards more and more decision making by artificial intelligence is becoming a reality. People from participants in the production process are turning into controllers, observers and problem solvers. "
Separately, the participants of the event discussed the importance of creating a special atmosphere of mutual trust in companies. This allows you to work effectively in a remote format, introduce flexible management methods and removes the need to monitor all the actions of employees, since it is assumed that the team has internal motivation to achieve the set goals and results. “The level of trust in experts and employees is manifested, among other things, in a willingness to treat mistakes as lessons. This is a key thing for the introduction of technologies and in order to come out ahead,” added Andrey Laptev.
The panel session was moderated by Elena Krom, Editor-in-Chief of RBC St. Petersburg. The "Management of the Future" conference is annually held by the Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg University. The main goal is to create a platform for interaction between Russian companies and talented Russian students with the prospect of forming a reserve of management personnel.