Wohlfahrter talked of the importance of creating a new purpose and a new kind of employership, though he warned: “It’s not so easy to move people forward and educate them in a different way. We can’t solve all problems.”
Yet, said Atti: “Being in a difficult situation has shown me more than ever that we have the power to change. It’s up to us to make sure that we all push the right innovation agenda.” He spoke of the need for the biggest players in each industry to take a moral stance and shift that forward.
“We could go anywhere. I see pepole retracting and retaining what can be saved, but other people who are saying they’ll rebuild and start from the beginning. I don’ think that’s any different than any other time. It’s all about human beings and we are social animals. I think collaboration will win over egoism.”
Garcia Lopez concurred with the panel, saying: “Coronavirus has fast-forwarded on our lives.” She says recent trends such as ecommerce adoption and purposeful brands are now accelerating. “Companies are opening up and becoming much more human.”
Taking the lead on this were those companies with more flexible, leaner structures. “Companies need to embrace innovation and those who will win will be those who see opportunities in what others will see as gloomy outlook. If we can’t go out we need to invent new ways of socialising: the home becomes the bar, the restaurant, the cinema. Let’s see a bright future, different future if we collaborate.”
Lastly, Beuker, and a stark message. “Leadership could have and should have done more to prepare. They were warned.” He talked of how presidents such as George W Bush had, as early as 2005, been warned of the global impact of an imminent pandemic but he and those who followed did little. A $7bn early intervention could have saved trillions, he said.
“I’m grateful for COVID. These are lessons we didn’t learn from the past. Climate change is not going to be reversed in a two-month lockdown, but we are learning from COVID the things we have got wrong in an ever growing economy. This is the wake-up call we all needed so badly.”Igor Beuker