Call for Leaders | Ionut Simion (PwC Romania): Leaders need to be emotionally connected with their people and inspire confidence

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 03/04/2020 | 14:56

Call for Leaders – 3Q is a new category where Business Review features our 3 questions with some of Romania’s top business professionals, bringing a positive, insightful, or otherwise constructive view of their markets in the context of the current crisis.


Current conversation: Ionuț Simion, Country Managing Partner, PwC Romania & President AmCham Romania.


What are the measures you took for your business during this period?

We are facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with huge economic and social implications. As we can see governments around the world take measures to stop the spread of the disease. At PwC we are monitoring the situation closely to understand, evaluate and minimize the impact on our people and our business. As we all must take responsibility, we have taken measures since the first signs of the spread of COVID-19 in Romania. At the beginning of March, we have limited all non-essential travels and events in interest of our people and our clients as well. At the time the schools were closed we recommended to all of our colleagues which are parents to work from home. Shortly after that moment, due to the unexpected spread of the disease, we took the decision that all of us should work from home.

Once we started working from home we took all the measures to ensure the activity as usual, without disturbance in our operations as we have the solutions and technology that allow us to stay connected internally and with our clients. Fortunately, our activity has worked very well so far, without interruptions due to the fact that all of our colleagues are digitally enabled. In the recent years we have invested in digitalization and digital upskilling and this decision helps us a lot now. We also have the advantage that all of us are used to working remotely due to the specific nature of our business. The way we are all working in the last three weeks has proved that we are a solid and united team and the values we believe in define us as trusted professionals. Currently, we are involved in projects as usual and we work to meet deadlines and commitments even in these difficult circumstances. We focus on how we can support each other professionally and personally, on how we can help clients and our community.  We are confident that our business continuity plans both protect our people and reduce the level of potential service interruption to our clients and business operations as well as allowing for efficient and proven recovery efforts.


What’s your advice for business leaders for this crisis?

In addition to the serious implications for people’s health and the healthcare services, COVID-19 is having a significant impact on businesses and the economy. We are all operating in uncharted waters. I am aware that many of the leaders have a series of concerns about their people, their clients or their business. These are the times for the leaders to take responsibility more than ever. It is not easy as none of us has ever gone through such a crisis, but we have to stand firmly in the middle of this storm. First of all, I would recommend other leaders to think of their people, to closely and frequently communicate with them. We need to stay emotionally connected in these troubled times, we need to inspire confidence. That is why we have to be open, to find our people’s concerns, their personal and professional difficulties. This kind of approach will build trust and help all of us to go forward and overrun this crisis. I know that many companies have difficulties and are forced to apply technical unemployment or other similar measures. At the same time, due to our research at PwC, I know that most of the companies do not intend to fire their people and are striving to find other ways to limit the negative impact. There are complicated times, but I am convinced these tough decisions are against their will. That is why we, the entire business community, need to stay connected, to advise each other in order to find together the best solutions under the given circumstances.

Secondly, from the business perspective, there are a series of recommended actions leaders may take to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. I will list some of them: develop incident management and scenario plans that are specific to this crisis, focus on factually and effectively communicating to stakeholders, plan on how to meet government priorities and minimize the risk of business disruptions, address strains on a firm’s existing information technology and communications infrastructure in order to support remote working during the crisis, identify alternative supply chain scenarios, consider accelerating digital transformations as the shift to remote working reveals gaps in IT infrastructure, workforce planning and digital upskilling, protect growth and profitability through actions such as scenario planning, more frequent financial modeling exercises to improve resiliency, and new models that incorporate economic impacts of past pandemics.


What’s the most positive business news you’ve read today and want to share it?

I try to read positive news every day. If we select only gloomy news our perception of reality is distorted. For example, I have recently read and made my day an article about a group of innovative people from Timisoara which managed to create, with the help of a 3D printer, a mechanical ventilator that passed the first operational test. It is the first prototype invented by the Romanians, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and it is big news for all of us as it proves we have valuable resources of creativity and innovation and also have the ability to adapt to difficult times.

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