'Combined community action with technical infrastructure needed to deal with COVID-19'

Chetan Mahajan, Founder & CEO of The Mavericks, speaks to e4m about the role of leadership in taking up green initiatives, the impact of COVID-19 on media & brand marketing industry and more

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Apr 27, 2020 8:39 AM
Chetan Mahajan

The world has been under siege since the Coronavirus outbreak. Most countries are under lockdown and are forced into compulsory quarantine and social distancing, resulting in the downfall of several industries globally. While a lot of companies are focused on building a robust technical infrastructure to continue 'business as usual', this crisis definitely offers a lot of learning to leaders to revise their business playbooks.

In this context, The Mavericks will observe a one-week lockdown every year starting 2021 to remember this one-of-a-kind situation. This initiative is aimed at developing mindful consumption behaviour amongst team members. E4m interacted with Chetan Mahajan, Founder & CEO of The Mavericks on the role of leadership in taking such green initiatives, the impact of the current crisis on media and brand marketing industry post-COVID and more.

 Edited Excerpts:

 What will be the impact of the current crisis on the media industry & brand marketing post-COVID 19?

The current generation of entrepreneurs and managers, irrespective of the industries, has never seen a crisis of this magnitude. The irony of the media and brand marketing industry is that while media consumption has increased phenomenally during COVID-lockdown, particularly on TV and digital platforms, the media industry is amongst the most hit and brand managers cannot leverage this relatively-undivided attention of their captive audience due to the uncertainties encumbering their own businesses and nearly complete loss of revenues. This crisis will transform the media industry into a digital-first industry for news, entertainment, events, and marketing. Brands that were ahead of the curve in adopting digital will be at a huge advantage while others will now need to take a plunge and place more bets on digital.

How important is it for leaders to encourage colleagues, peers and industry to undertake green initiatives?

I think everyone in their subconscious mind knew that we are abusing the gift of nature but chose to close our eyes assuming it’s not our problem or priority. COVID-19 has served us the much-needed wake-up call and we’ve decided to respond to this call with action. Coronavirus was declared a pandemic on the 11th of March by the World Health Organization (WHO). We will start observing a week-long lockdown (Together-Apart Week) every year in the second week of March to commemorate this declaration and pay gratitude to the healthcare and frontline workers for their selfless service in these trying times and, finally as a reminder to ourselves, to stop abusing nature, which now seems to be in a self-healing mode. During the week-long lockdown, all Mavericks will work exactly the way we've been working during this lockdown -- from the 25th of March to the 3rd of May -- in a complete self-quarantine within the confines of our homes.  It’s time for leadership to be the flag bearers of change by not only inspiring their immediate ecosystem but also bringing in policies and practices that will align everyone to play their part in creating a more sustainable lifestyle. 

How does one establish a work-life balance with regular WFH programs?

Today, we have all the time to find work-life balance in life, more time to spend with our families and to pursue our lost passion, albeit in the confines of the four walls. We don’t intend to bury these learnings as we get back to our so-called normal lives. In addition to our commitment to #TogetherApartWeek, post the current lockdown, a minimum of 10% of our team members will start working from home at all times. This will be done by rotation and our endeavour is to push this rate to 25% by 2023 and 50% by 2025. We all will have an opportunity to live a more balanced life; hope most of us put this opportunity to good use.

 What are the ways in which agencies and corporates can join hands against climate change to be future-ready?

Travel adds a significant chunk to pollution in cities. In my opinion, agencies and clients should have a pact to move 99% of their meetings online with secured video conferencing to cut down on unnecessary travel and time. AS for now, VC meetings seem more productive and focused. Further, both agencies and clients should encourage geography-agnostic teams to bring the best resources to engage with the client irrespective of their location. An expectation of face time engagement has always discouraged such a team structure, which can be far more efficient. While we practice this very religiously we now need to bring in scale to this practice. Apart from the proactive steps to be future-ready, Mavericks would not ignore reactive steps like planting at least 100 trees every year for each of its team members and give back a portion of what we’ve usurped from other inhabitants of this planet. In 2020 we’ll be planting at least 2500 trees.

 What are the lessons learnt from the ongoing pandemic to safeguard the future?

While we all revise our business playbooks to navigate these unsettling times through robust technical infrastructure, digital tools, and alternate business plans, we must carry forward the valuable lesson of combined community action to deal with climate change. COVID-19 is not the first pandemic and will certainly not be the last one. Reliving the memories of the lockdown of 2020 will hopefully not let us forget the pain and loss of life we suffered. It will push us and the generations to come to not slip back to the ignorant and selfish selves yet again. I urge more individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses to come together and own their responsibilities to the planet and its habitat. I also urge  WHO to announce the second week of March to be “International Together-Apart Week” in commemoration of the world’s battle against COVID-19.”





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