CIOs should see COVID-19 as an opportunity and not a challenge

This is a great opportunity for CIOs to serve the company on all fronts. CIOs should take this scenario not as a challenge but an opportunity, which will help them in redefining the work culture, in terms of thought processes, actions, and policies

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Express Computer is running a series of articles for the Indian CIO community. In today’s edition we talk to one of India’s most seasoned and veteran CIOs, Vijay Sethi, Chief Information Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) & Head Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Hero MotoCorp. He has seen many ups and downs in the global business environment, in his long career leading the IT and other functions. We speak with him on what is keeping him busy; his advice to the CIO community on how they should continue to hold the fort and keep working for the betterment of the company and society. It’s important to note, apart from IT, Sethi also leads HR and CSR for Hero MotoCorp.

Sethi feels, from a human resource perspective, this is the time to keep the employees motivated, engage them in various activities including training, have a regular dialogue with them and give support to them to remain positive. “Regular communication with employees is the key in such a time of pandemonium. This is the time to support, engage and motivate them and their families. Companies should ensure that employees remain positive and engaged. Employees can use this time to do their regular activities as they Work from Home, work on projects and ideas to enhance productivity and also focus on enhancing their competency by e-learning. There are a set of employees in companies whose role is such that they cannot work from home – for example those in manufacturing – but have to stay at home. Special focus has to be given to motivate such employees and keep them engaged,” suggests Vijay Sethi, Chief Information Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) & Head Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Hero MotoCorp.

At Hero MotoCorp, regular interaction is held with employees and this has significantly increased after the lockdown was announced. “We are also promoting e-learning in a big way, which has been received well by the colleagues in the company. There are regular project reviews and employees have gotten into rhythm of working from home,” says Sethi.

The major constraint faced by organisations is that of people movement. “I have been working from home since the past many days – my day starts at about 9 am and ends at close to midnight. Doing conference calls, google hangouts, zoom meetings, one-on-one calls, etc.” When asked about what is keeping him busy, Sethi says, “it’s about planning, reviews and engagement with people. Once planning is meticulously done, execution is smooth,”

IT is the backbone of the company and covers all aspects of the organization. All the IT services are running and IT personnel are making sure that the servers, applications, remote access and VPN are working.  There is a need to focus more on cyber security in such times. Role of IT has suddenly become even more significant and crucial given the constraints – movement restrictions, almost all employees including IT team members working from home including the vendors and partners. Despite that, the IT team has to ensure that employees have all the tools and technologies that enable them to work from home without compromising on performance or security and also provide the necessary support.

He feels this is a great opportunity for CIOs to serve the company on all fronts. “CIOs should take the current scenario not as a challenge but an opportunity. This is an opportunity to redefine the work culture, thought process, processes, policies, user experience and take the organization to a different level of automation. This is also the time to revamp and make the Business Continuity Plans really practical,” He says.

Corporate Social Responsibility is equally critical at this juncture. It involves supporting the sections of society that need support the most at this time – be it in terms of food supplies and ration, masks, sanitizers, ventilators and other items, etc. There are teams that are working selflessly to serve the society.

This is also the time to come up with innovative ideas to take the organization to a different level as businesses open once lockdown is over.

It is also the moment to appreciate the efforts put in by employees across functions, in the organization to make lives smooth and hassle free for others.

Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) & Head Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)Chief Information Officercorona viruscoronavirusCovid-19covid19Hero MotoCorpVijay Sethi
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