#FightBackCorona: There’s a lot of unlearning & reskilling required: Navin Khemka

These are extraordinary times and we all are in uncharted territory. There is a lot of fear and negativity in all spheres due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While the Corona Warriors are doing a tremendous job fighting from the frontlines, we at Adgully are embarking on an endeavour to highlight the positive developments during these challenging times.

Adgully is featuring a series of brief interactions with industry leaders in India and find out how they are keeping their spirits up as well as keeping their employees motivated, also how they are joining in the fight against the adverse impact of the global pandemic.

Navin Khemka, CEO, MediaCom South Asia, has a lot of practical suggestions on how to maintain business continuity in the post-COVID-19 world.

What steps are you and your organisation taking to help out the society at large or those engaged in the war against COVID-19?
At Mediacom level, since most of us are currently working remotely, we are all contributing to the PM Cares Fund. Every employee is doing this and we are sharing our contributions with others to inspire every one and help generate a sizable chunk.

Internally, all employees have also been encouraged to donate a part of their salary. This is being used for migrant workers and frontline workers of COVID-19 at a larger group level.

We are also involved with a host of media houses and trying to get social messaging from brands to larger audiences. This will help disseminate the right messaging from brands on the Do’s & Don’ts in this era of misinformation.

How are you keeping your employees motivated and are encouraging them to give their best, even as they are working from home?
We at MediaCom are demonstrating our ‘People First’ culture. This is the time to Walk The Talk with our people, who we value foremost. I am ensuring regular interactions with all teams on a daily basis to provide singular POV of what is happening with the organisation. We are spending a lot of time on upskilling our teams and also doing training sessions with our clients.

We are also helping each other in tough times, especially those with limited support, those living on their own. We have identified 20 kids who were not able to travel back home due to the lockdown – The Home Alone Kids. We have connected them to employees staying in the same vicinity and have also given them a SPOC in each city in case of any emergency. It’s time that they do not feel alone and lonely and we get together as one community.

At a group level a host of initiatives across wellness, training, games, stand up comedy, podcasts are being organised to keep our teams engaged. These are being attended with a lot of enthusiasm across our teams and locations.

From a work point of view, we are investing a lot of time in doing things we have always wanted to do but never had the time. We are upskilling and reskilling them. Employees have been told to take up at least one initiative every week. We have hundreds and thousands of programmes on our Learning Hubs, which are like training sessions. So, the team decided that every week they will do at least one of them and they are maintaining a tracker which the leadership team is tracking. We understand that the work could be a bit less, and that we are all working remotely, but this is also the time to make sure we are upskilling ourselves. Many clients have also reached out to us and requested if we can organise some training sessions for them as well.

What is most needed in challenging times such as these:

(a) From the general public: The three things - 
Be Respectful: This is a huge lesson for everyone. The time has come to realise how interdependent we are on each other. Do not abuse the environment.

Be Responsible: As a citizen. Everything is not about money, everything is not about success, so we have to be responsible and do what is right for society.

Be Resilient: We will get past this and have to hold the team, family, society together.

(b) From the authorities:
They are doing a fantastic job, risking their own lives on the streets so that we are safe. In these difficult times, they need to be extra sensitive towards the daily wagers and migrant workers. Give them all the support and help.

(c) From business leaders:
This is the time to give back to the society. I would humbly appeal to every leader (big or small) to help in whatever way possible so that we are able to get past this sooner. Donations, masks, community kitchens, etc.

Your suggestions for business continuity in the advertising industry in the post- COVID-19 scenario?
This is a good time for us to acquire new skills that will be relevant in the future and be prepared for smooth business continuity post-COVID-19. New job opportunities will emerge in the new world post-COVID-19 and especially the millennials will need to be ready to be able to adapt and embrace that change. There is a lot of unlearning and reskilling that we all need to do to overcome this disruption. Also, new media habits are emerging and they need to be adapted to effectively reach our audiences. What worked in pre-COVID-19 times will not work post-COVID-19.


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