Dec 21Featured ArticleIssue

How will leaders face any upcoming covid challenges?

Resilient thinking, innovative outlook and meaningful collaboration are keys to overcoming future challenges. Narendra Varde, MD, Roche Diagnostics India gives an insight

The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the challenges business leaders are facing today. While addressing the existing business risks, leaders now have to navigate the risks brought to the fore by the pandemic. However, along with the challenges it has also opened up new opportunities for us. For the healthcare sector, the pandemic has created opportunities to shape the way healthcare will be delivered in the future. As Roche, we looked at the crisis as an opportunity to expedite innovations. I truly believe leaders across sectors will have to look at the challenges in the same spirit to overcome them and bring meaningful positive changes.


One of the many challenges of the evolving pandemic is the lack of certainty. With the Omicron variant being the latest in the list of mutations, I think it’s important to realise that there are aspects that one can control and there are aspects where one can only contain. Business leaders will have to be adaptive to those disruptive changes and resilient to take decisive action, confidently based on the fastchanging information. Fast decisionmaking amid uncertain times will be critical. As the pandemic was unfolding, Roche Diagnostics teams developed a reliable test to detect whether a person has COVID-19 in just 38 days. The test was authorised for emergency use in the US within weeks of the virus making headlines globally. During the devastating 2nd wave of the pandemic, we expedited the supply of 2 lakh tests to the ICMR.

To overcome the challenges posed by a persistent problem like the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders will need to be persistent in their decision-making. For instance, even after launching the PCR test to detect SARS-CoV-2, and an antibody test, we have been working to bring more reliable immunoassay solutions to the market. As part of our One Roche solutions, Ronapreve has been widely studied and used as a medicine for COVID-19. Leaders will have to innovate and anticipate changes and spot trends early on in their market that are likely to emerge. We recognised the profound awareness the pandemic has created around diagnostics and its role in the early detection and management of diseases. At a global level, we decided to use this as an opportunity to empower patients across the globe to be part of healthcare decision-making by leveraging digital tools to manage chronic diseases like diabetes. We expedited innovations around solutions that enabled faster personalised disease management for better outcomes.

To overcome the colossal challenges posed by the pandemic, leaders need to collaborate with their internal and external stakeholders. To lead through a crisis, leaders need to stay connected and learn from the multiple stakeholders within their ecosystem. At the height of the pandemic, we were approached by the PMO and ICMR to support the test, trace and isolate strategy. Leaders also need to identify and acknowledge the gap they have in their business model and collaborate with partners who can fill them. For this reason, we are investing in partnerships with high-tech start-ups to improve access and care for patients.

Overall, the recovery and fast business turnaround of a company will depend as much on the evolving pandemic situation as on the way its leadership will steer the business. Resilient thinking, an innovative outlook toward problem-solving, and a collaborative approach will be the differentiators between the leaders who sailed the storm successfully.

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