‘Ensure that you don’t perish’

On the to-do list for companies right now should be to focus on what needs immediate attention and ensure that they survive when they come out on the other side of the tunnel, says Deep Kalra, Founder and Group Executive Chairman, MakeMyTrip.

Hazel Jain

Our earnings call for April-May-June 2020 showed that we went down 95 per cent. So, to all our investors I said, this is not an earnings call, it is the lack of earnings call!” said Deep Kalra, Founder and Group Executive Chairman, MakeMyTrip, during his address at ITB Asia.

“You’ve cut a lot of variable costs since the pandemic hit and all you have are all the fixed costs. You have fundamentally made your P&L much lighter on the cost side, which is more in line with a lack of revenue. At a time like this, it’s important to keep your team motivated. And secondly, how do you keep them gainfully employed? The two are in fact very closely connected,” Kalra said.

Sharing his own experience in doing that, he added that the company used the lockdown opportunity to address all the technology projects. “We focused on all those projects that we call ‘big, hairy, audacious projects’ which were typically always pushed back because work came in the way – they kept getting pushed month on month and quarter on quarter. So everyone was now re-engineered and re-purposed towards those projects. Our tech unification – the complete unification post the Goibibo transaction – had not been unified at the backend. This usually takes years, but we managed to complete that in a quarter and a half during the lockdown,” he claimed.

Stay alive

Kalra advised all entrepreneurs, “You’ve got to learn very quickly how this is going to impact your business and how it is going to impact your people and your customers. You then need to figure out a plan which needs immediate action like cost cuts, what you need to do mid-term, where you will be in the long term, and therefore what you need to do for that. So, priority number one is, irrespective of knowing how long this crisis will last – because this is like any other crisis – the first thing you have to do is stay alive when you come out on the other side. As a company, you have to ensure that you don’t perish.” This, he said, could be the biggest gift if we learn from the crisis. “The non-obvious one is how quickly you can get things done. How much can you focus on the very essential? I have to confess, it’s been eye-opening for me to be able to focus on the most important things. It doesn’t matter where your people are, just focus on getting the big stuff done, because that is what will make the real difference. If we go back to our old ways, then we didn’t learn much,” Kalra said.

 

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