Members of the jury panel for the ACES Awards share what it takes to win

These companies have succeeded through perseverance, adaptability and grit

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about drastic changes to the world’s business climate. Companies have been forced to evolve almost overnight – those who cannot, face the possibility of permanent closure. 

But there are some that thrived despite the health crisis, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, forging the way for others to emulate. And these success stories are the ones the ACES Awards wants to hold up as examples to other businesses. 

Its jury, comprising industry experts including serial entrepreneurs, academics, venture capitalists and technology adventurists, tells us more.

Ms Shanggari Balakrishnan, CEO, MORS Group: 
“The global pandemic has given rise to unprecedented disarray, pain and loss. Despite the world’s thorough efforts to snap back into pre-pandemic normalcy, its tenuous state still remains, in spite of the sheer number of vaccination doses administered each day.

Variants of concern and disease progression are being carefully monitored, and yet herd immunity seems increasingly out of reach. With that said, most governments are now looking beyond resuming life to what it was before and exploring a more realistic epidemiological end point, with Covid-19 being managed as an endemic disease.

When the outbreak first hit, business leaders were thrust into the unknown and scrambled without a proper blueprint. Although short-term survival was salient, it was quickly evident that that alone wasn’t sufficient. When faced with such levels of disruption, the only way forward was to innovate and advance, and the key to that is long-term business resilience and growth.

Therefore, we are exceptionally proud of our nominees and winners this year as they have fundamentally gained mastery over the virus and made a difference, either in terms of leadership or sustainability, amid the overwhelming challenges at the height of unprecedented adversity.” 

Mr Hemant K. Batra, chairman, ACES Awards:
“It’s been nearly two years since the onset of the pandemic and the global economy is now finally poised to stage an exceedingly robust post-recession recovery. Although the rebound will no doubt be disproportionate throughout the world, most economies are gearing up to record growth.

The colossal crisis did seem impossible at one point, and re-establishing the business landscape for sustainable success would mean laying the groundwork for a more entrepreneurial, digital- and eco-friendly future. This also signifies the pressing need for corporations to uphold their moral standards.

Despite the obvious repercussions, Covid-19 also brought about several positive changes that have now become focal points for many – from the accelerated rates of digital transformation to a greater spotlight on environmental issues.

Companies that are hoping to safeguard the business landscape and secure their places in it must recognise these changes and harness the opportunities that are presented by reshaping their business models and processes for the post-pandemic reality. This chance to rebuild should not go to waste.”

Dr Jayanthi Desan, lead jury, ACES Awards:
“Covid-19 has proven to be the most wide-reaching public health crisis the world has faced in a long time. With regards to its impact on businesses, the virus has made a few aspects clear.

The heart of sustainability lies within business resilience. It is evident that corporations that have prioritised sustainability and transparency are more agile in responding to unexpected events. This resilience incorporates health, safety and well-being in an unequalled way. So it is more important, now than ever, to be able to lean on partnerships and collaborations, as no one should be dealing with the pandemic independently.

There are a few pillars that can affect resilience and sustainability. Aside from having the awareness to act on credible and reliable information, corporations must foster a behaviour to practice active communication and educate their people. They must also have a plan and be ready to react as and when needed, and commit to protect their employees and their corresponding value chain, including the wider communities.

Corporations must understand that everything is interconnected and that adaptive management is required to deal with issues of such a scale. Only then would they be prepared for future crisis response.”

Mr Luis Bueno Nieto, jury, ACES Awards:
“No matter how small and large corporations adapt to the pandemic operationally, they may still have found themselves in a new and uncharted territory. If anything, these unprecedented challenges have highlighted the importance of adaptability.

Organisations across all industries are adapting quicker than ever, even though we have yet to declare victory over the pandemic. Even huge, incumbent corporations have found ways to adapt to the changes, thus proving that you can indeed teach old dogs new tricks.

Although most of these companies are consistently fine-tuning their operations, resistance in the form of legacy systems, processes and methodologies still prevail. The question they should be asking is: How can corporations set themselves up to respond more efficiently and quickly, so as to adapt and thrive despite the constant change?

There are three key pillars that may power this transformation – having flexible and dynamic processes that can adapt to meet evolving business needs; adopting shorter planning and review cycles in order to quickly discern what works and what doesn’t; and cultivating a continuous learning culture within the organisation to carry it towards shared success.”

Find out more about the ACES Awards here.

Originally published in The Business Times (November 19, 2021)

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About ACES Awards

The Asia Corporate Excellence & Sustainability Awards (ACES) is one of the most prestigious accolades that recognises inspiring leaders and sustainability advocates cross-industry and across Asia. 

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This award recognises an entrepreneur who is 40 years or below and has shown exceptional business performance, having built a name for themselves regardless of boundaries that may come with age. He/she embodies fine values, strong beliefs and unwavering dedication in their entrepreneurial pursuit, thus serving as an inspiration for aspiring young leaders.