- As the year draws to a close, it is important to pause and reflect.
- We speak to industry leaders about the year gone by and a few lessons they learnt from 2021.
It was during the peak of the pandemic in 2020 when doctors across the world were still trying to figure out what the novel Coronavirus is, I lost my grandmother. Shortly after, my father tested positive for the virus. His oxygen dropped to 78 mm. We struggled to find a bed for him and found a hospital 50 kms away. He was still mourning the loss of his mother, fighting a deadly virus, struggling to form sentences but he had a huge smile on his face when I taught him how to video call on WhatsApp. He was there for two weeks but those weeks definitely felt like a decade to me. I had the nurse’s number on my speed dial, I called her first thing in the morning to ask, “How is my father breathing today? Has his oxygen picked up?” She would respond patiently, “Yes, we are doing our best.” To escape from this, I buried myself in work, binge-watched violent movies to numb the pain I was actually feeling. After we heard the news that he is coming back, we decorated the house. I put up some fairy lights, made a rangoli, bought his favourite sweets — Kaju Katli. After all, we were welcoming Ram back into his home right before Diwali. It took me a while to process the horrendous month that I had spent. Thankfully, I had a very supportive team at work. I remember texting my editor a week later, “I will be submitting my story late today, I am too anxious and panicked.” She responded, “Sure, take your time, Karuna.”
So, if 2020 was about self-isolation, making sure our older family members stay safe and prioritizing their physical health, 2021 taught me the importance of mental health.
After months of working from home — away from our loved ones, seeing the country battle a deadly virus and our medical industry getting crippled, 2021 was all about healing from the storm. It was about finding comfort in little wins and reminding ourselves that we are all in this together.
Change can be scary, sure, and not knowing what the future holds is scarier, but resilience is stronger. As we enter a new year with a lot of uncertainty yet again because no one knows what variants COVID-19 will throw at us, it is important to remember that we have survived the worst. By now, we know what works and what doesn’t.
The impact of 2020 and 2021 will be felt next year too but remember to take care of yourself first if you want to be able to show up for other people too. And most importantly, double mask up, people!
Here’s what our industry experts learnt from the rollercoaster year that 2021 turned out to be:
Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India:
The pandemic has completely altered our perspective of what the future should be. CEOs across the world have redefined their leadership skills based on this reality. If the pre-pandemic stage was all about merging the technology trends and diversity with an added edge of GenY disrupting the way of working; the post-pandemic world is now ushering in the dynamic social age. The upcoming era will be a lot about meaningful relationships within the gamut of the collective human experience, and the bedrock of this will be the trust factor.
So, the one leadership lesson that I will cherish from 2021 is the greater meaning of ‘trust’. It has taken a new meaning in my life. And if we were able to sail through the last two years, it is only because I ‘trusted’ my teams to display unprecedented resilience and commitment. And that trust converged into amazing results. As the leader of this organization, I knew my teams ‘trusted’ me that I will do everything in my power to navigate them through this storm. And I must say we have a lot to be proud of as it has yielded positive and encouraging results.