With the impact of coronavirus pandemic which has left businesses across the globe counting losses, Mitchell Elegbe, founder and group managing director at Interswitch has described it as a wake-up call for companies to take proactive measures, as well as have a crisis management plan in order to prepare for potential crisis and keep their businesses afloat.
He made this known during the WIMBOARD Institute Webinar tagged: “The role of a Board in Anticipating and Managing Crisis”, held on Thursday June 18, 2020.
Speaking on what boards can do to anticipate crisis, Mitchell explained that the board takes a long-term view of the business and plans for seasons. Using the Interswitch Group as a case study, he disclosed that prior to the novel coronavirus disruption, Interswitch Group had developed a proactive crisis management plan that has enabled the firm navigate the business environment seamlessly, was and continue to offer top-notch services to its esteemed customers, during the pandemic.
He disclosed that while it is true that the company did not envisage the coronavirus outbreak, the board not caught unprepared by the impact of the pandemic. He explained that as far as the Interswitch Group’s board is concerned, the Group’s vision is captured as a landing zone and a well-defined plan is put in place. Not unmindful of multiple risks that had propensity to crystallize along the way, the board proactively set out to identify and activate triggers that would help achieve the vision and mitigate traps that could potentially have detrimental effect on the actualization of the business’s vision.
He added that at Interswitch, four major indicators were tracked as potential crisis traps: organizational disruption, unrehearsed major market province, technology lag or solution failure and poor business practices or governance.
He said: “The interesting thing about COVID-19 is that it threw up all four challenges simultaneously and the impact was major. “However, because we track these things from time to time, we envisaged its possibility and were able to navigate the business in a way that has helped us cope with the current situation.”
Mitchell explained that having a supportive board with people of different backgrounds, bringing different perspectives to bear during a crisis especially as it concerns the external environment, is critical to an effective board and gives the CEO lots of confidence to navigate the crisis.
Describing the role of a founder during a crisis, he explained that founders are highly integral as they are accountable to the board and their role is to manage the business for profitability. He opined that in a crisis, founders should be more focused on getting the solution that would steer the business out of the crisis and still remain in business post-crisis.
WIMBOARD Institute is one of the four platforms of the Nigeria Women on Boards (WIMBOARD) program that was launched in 2012. The WIMBOARD Institute is targeted at providing training, education and opportunities for prospective and serving Board members.
Other speakers on the webinar included: Ibukun Awosika, chairman Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Oyeyimika Adeboye, managing director, Cadbury Nigeria; Bisi Lamikanra, partner & head of advisory services, KPMG Nigeria; Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, deputy managing director, Falcon Corporation. The Webinar was moderated by Cecilia Akintomide, Independent non-executive director, FBN Holdings Plc.