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: Manfred Paasch, CEO of E.ON Romania
What measures have you taken to protect your business during this period?
E.ON is managing the corona situation in a confident and responsible manner, with the right balance of protective and safety measures for customers, employees and partners, and a sense of proportion and prudence.
As an operator of critical infrastructure, we take the risks posed by the coronavirus very seriously and have set up a central crisis organization to coordinate all issues related to the pandemic. The most important goal is the safe operation of our infrastructure while minimizing the risk of infection for our employees and society in general. Our employees are engaged in a wide range of different activities. Against this background, we have taken a number of different measures to minimize social contacts. These range from home office regulations to the special protection of critical personnel, which is essential for maintaining security of supply.
As part of its regulatory framework and existing crisis management, E.ON introduced the first standard measures for impending pandemic situations in February. To this end, the existing pandemic plans were updated in detail and made available to the relevant business units. The alarm chains for such situations have been tested in practice and checked again. The exchange of information with the most important service providers for the maintenance of network operations has taken place to prioritize work and is updated continuously.
General rules of conduct for employees, such as hygiene measures, cancellation of numerous meetings and an increased shift to telephone conferences, are implemented on an ongoing basis. The most important measures have included strict adherence to hygiene and distancing rules, and the isolation of particularly sensitive areas such as network maintenance. For several weeks now, only employees with a permanent workplace at such sites have been allowed to enter. The working areas of these key personnel are separated from each other, there is little to no mixing between shifts, and shift handovers are contactless. Technicians who have to work on-site on the grid are equipped with special equipment to minimize the risk of infection.
Should the pandemic situation deteriorate significantly, E.ON is prepared. The measures taken to ensure the highest possible level of protection will then range from the activation of replacement control rooms to the complete isolation of the operating team. Many employees already come to work with their bags packed in their trunks to be prepared in case of isolation.
We are well prepared for all possible crisis scenarios in order to maintain a secure supply of electricity and gas.
What is your advice for business leaders for this crisis?
To keep employees close, to communicate with them in a sincere, honest, empathetic way, so that they convey the idea that together the difficult times will be overcome. To send them positive and trusting messages: the crisis is also an opportunity to rethink and optimize a series of processes, through digitization, for example. Defining and communicating the short and medium-term business strategy, adapted to the new situation, with clear and well-defined objectives, is another important aspect. People need to know what to expect, but at the same time also what is expected of them especially in order to overcome this moment. Therefore, we are talking about motivation and resilience, in unprecedented times, when the role of the leader is to bring clarity and trust.
What is the most positive business news you have read today and want to share it?
I read every day about private companies, but also about various institutions, individuals, celebrities who join the efforts to raise the much-needed funds for equipping hospitals with medical equipment and personnel protective equipment for healthcare personnel. There is evidence of emotional solidarity that shows that people have understood that in such difficult times if we close the ranks, if we are united, we can achieve extraordinary things together in a short time which may in other conditions have lasted for years. I am also touched by the stories coming from the medical staff working on the front line of the fight against coronavirus, full of dedication and humanity. That is why we also wanted, on behalf of E.ON, to get involved in this national campaign to support those who are on the front line, both through direct financial contributions, but also through our daily work, through which we ensure the continuity of gas and electricity supply of households in Romania.