What is the ‘New Normal’?

The Mahindra Group Corporate Office (GCO) virtual townhall took place this Tuesday, with senior leaders sharing their thoughts on the implications of the current scenario. Here are some excerpts from various leaders discussing the current situation, actions being taken to combat the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic as well as shedding light on how we plan to embrace the ‘new normal’.

Dr Anish Shah, Deputy MD and Group CFO

The new normal is going to be different from what we have been used to. The current situation is difficult and there are various theories about how quickly things will recover. The lockdown has taken a serious hit on various businesses, but Mahindra & Mahindra is strongly positioned and will be able to withstand the worst-case scenario. We will be in a position to support our subsidiaries, as well as our supplier and dealers.

Ruzbeh Irani, President- Group HR and Communications and Member of the Group Executive Board

The safety of our employees has been our top priority and will continue to be so, along with business continuity. We moved, quickly and effectively, to the new Work From Home protocol, setting up a Group-level Rapid Action Force (RAF) to manage the lockdown challenges. We are connected with all our employees through various technology-driven platforms. The process of returning to work is an extremely well-calibrated protocol that we have prepared and request you to adhere to. When we go back to work, we have made sure we will observe all the prescribed social distancing norms. Offices will have to be redesigned for this purpose and about half of our employees will have to continue working from home.

Dhaval Buch, Interim President- Technology and CEO Bristlecone

We started WFH from March 18, and 20,000 employees are now working from home with 3.6 lakh virtual meetings having already been conducted. As many as 80 live events have been organized which witnessed participation ranging between 200-500 people. Several board meetings have also happened virtually.

Vijay Kalra, Head of Manufacturing, Mahindra Institute of Quality, Central Safety Council

We are taking a lot of preventative maintenance and safety measures at our manufacturing plants, while gradually transiting to active mode. There are four initiatives I would like to share with you. Our kitchens have become more active with 17 of them working to provide food for migrant labourers since the lockdown began. For those with no place to cook, we are giving them cooked food while for others who can cook, we are providing dry rations. About 9,000+ people are being fed every day and 2.9 lakh food packets have been distributed to date.

From Ford, we learned to manufacture face shields, and after working non-stop for 4 days along with a supplier we were making them at our Kandivali plant. Today, 8 locations are making them and 11,000+ face shields are being manufactured daily. We have supplied them to several locations across the country from Jammu & Kashmir to Kerala. About 300,000 face shields have already been delivered.

A small start-up called Saral Designs approached us saying they have the capability to make face masks but they needed support to upgrade their machines. Within 4 hours we reached out to them and suggested we help with manufacturing the masks. In the middle of the night their machines were shifted to our units and on the 5th day of the lockdown we started making masks. And today we have made 30,000 hi-grade, 3-ply masks, which have already been distributed. About 600 Aerosol boxes have also been provided to 30 hospitals, through knowledge sharing with our US teams.

Manoj Chugh, President- Group Public Affairs

The Government of India has been providing greater thrust on the use of technology during the lockdown. Video conferencing has become the norm and so far, 50,000+ sessions have been held with the industry bodies, businesses, etc. The government has been using tools like Twitter extensively to reach out to citizens and has become more transparent. Newer applications such as Arogya Setu have come to life. The government is putting together the second stimulus to get the economy back on track. The states have also become proactive and are doing a commendable job. We continue to actively engage with them whenever they need the support of the Mahindra Group and industry at large.

Naveen Raju, General Counsel and EVP – Group Legal

During this phase, the renegotiation of contracts will be a key concern area. Data security on the internet is another concern and efforts are underway to ascertain if proprietary data is being used by others. Efforts have intensified to secure the personal data of employees, customers, etc. Concerns regarding governance issues in the wake of Covid-19 have increased.

S. Durgashankar, Group Controller of Finance

In Finance and Accounting, physical verification and documentation is critical. It seemed impossible to manage it virtually. To add to the woes, the Institute of Charters Accountants of India has made the conditions more stringent. To meet the challenges posed by the lockdown, the institute called for more tests and verifications, and greater vigilance. Our teams are used to working long hours but this situation has put further stress on them. However, they rose to the occasion and came up with several innovative processes to resolve the challenges, true to the spirit of M&M.

Zhooben Bhiwandiwala, President, Mahindra Partners and Group Legal

The new normal is not going to be Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon, instead we will be desperate for the new abnormal which will be, in many ways, a longing for the old normal - namely travel, holidays, movies, outings, etc. This year while filling the MCares survey, I am sure we are all going to be extremely thoughtful when we come to the question of work-life-balance.

We find ourselves in this surreal situation where there has been economic devastation and yet there is no destruction of infrastructure or habitat. We suffer physical isolation but are engaged in hyper digital communication. Organizations need to be better prepared for greater resilience, both financial as well as with their supply chains.

  • Business leaders will have to decide whether to choose resilience or cost optimization.
  • Environmental consciousness will get increased traction.
  • A big question mark on the sharing economy and how it will adapt to the new normal.
  • Consumer outlook expected to change which will create challenges for business.
  • Contact free economy is clearly going to dominate over the next decade.
  • Automation will get a greater thrust and become irreversible.
  • Government interventions in the economy will increase.
  • The new normal is set to witness the rise of trusted brands that have done the right things during this difficult phase.

Reimagining Automotive Retail

Mahindra & Mahindra recently announced the launch of ‘Own Online’, a one-stop 24/7 online destination for customers to source, accessorize, finance, insure, purchase or exchange a Mahindra vehicle from the comfort of their homes.

This unique solution allows customers to own a Mahindra vehicle in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered, according to Veejay Nakra, CEO, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra. Own Online allows customers to buy a Mahindra vehicle in four easy steps: explore and personalize Mahindra’s wide-range of SUVs, get an instant exchange quote in real-time, choose finance and insurance and complete the process seamlessly online, make payments and get contactless delivery.

Leveraging technology, Mahindra has also launched an industry-first, zero contact service experience for its customers, which is yet another step in the company’s journey to digitize the entire vehicle purchase and ownership experience in India.

Own Online is designed to simplify the process of car buying by offering a high degree of convenience, transparency and personalization at every step. It offers a break-down of all components such as registration charges, road taxes, insurance etc., as well as benefits, discounts and offers. Additionally, the platform also offers virtual assistance through chats or video calls, at the click of a button.

The ‘Contactless Service Experience’, allows customers to avoid coming in contact with any paper documents, cash or payment machines while getting their vehicles serviced. Using the Mahindra ‘With You Hamesha’ mobile app, customers will be able to view their repair orders, parts used, job operations carried out and associated costs. Repair estimates can be revised and approved through this app, and payments can be made online.

Mahindra has also upped service transparency by offering, for the first time in India, a live stream of recommended repairs from the service bay through CustomerLIVE. Service representatives will explain the procedures live where required, and customers can also view these recordings at their convenience.

Driven to Growth

Despite the very challenging business environment Mahindra Holidays reported good numbers for the year ended March 2020. It earned a total income of Rs. 1,037.1 crore, up 7.6% YoY, while profit before tax jumped 23.7% to Rs. 123.9 crores.

The company has put in place a robust plan to overcome the challenges posed by the Corona pandemic and the need to maintain social distance. With trust becoming a critical differentiator unlike pre-Corona days when price used to be a key concern, Mahindra Holidays being a very trusted brand is well poised to ride the post-lockdown growth in domestic tourism.

With demand for ‘drive-able’ destinations all set to become the trend in the new normal, the company plans to first re-open resorts that are at drivable distances from major metro cities once the lockdown is lifted.

"At Club Mahindra, we have over 255,000 member families and once travel restrictions are relaxed and state borders open up, and people feel comfortable enough to travel again, we expect our members and their families to start travelling to our resorts in their own vehicles, since we are at drivable distances from major cities," said Mr. Kavinder Singh, MD and CEO.

Mahindra Holidays, the byword for hospitality and quality of service, has also devised several protocols to ensure social distancing at its resorts. The entire staff is being re-trained to deliver contactless service and to ensure the highest standards of safety and hygiene for guests.

"The entire guest experience right from check in to resort experiences including F&B will be contactless. Our best-in-class experiences will help keep our members and their families engaged, while maintaining the highest safety and hygiene standards," added Mr Singh.

Rethinking our Relationship with Nature

We are in an unprecedented situation. A virus has forced us to stop living our usual way. Pro-active administrations have gone into complete lock down, others have flirted with danger by trying alternative ways of dealing with the situation. Governments around the world, including the Indian government have announced protective measures like quarantine, shelter in place, social distancing and curfew.

For corporates this has meant operating remotely, citizens have been forced to stay indoors, universities and schools have been closed, and airlines have had to shut operations. Only essential services like grocery stores, chemist shops, hospitals, general provision stores, etc. have been exempted from this shutdown.

The poor and vulnerable have been the worst hit and this, if not managed well, could lead to a social crisis. The novel coronavirus (SARS nCoV2) has caused massive disruption and has created a novel situation indeed.

It has been fascinating to observe how nature has responded during this lockdown. The air is cleaner, the ozone layer is healing itself, there is clean water in our rivers, birds are chirping, and wild animals are being seen at unusual places, seemingly ‘reclaiming their space’.

As we struggle to deal with this unprecedented situation, there has been a significant reduction in overall emissions. There are many reports saying that the weather has been different for this time of the year, Delhi appears to be cooler than normal while Bengaluru is warmer. Scientists are reporting that the ozone hole identified by them above the Arctic Circle in March of this year has closed already.

Photos of a cleaner and less polluted Yamuna have been doing the rounds, revealing that water can flow if we don’t release our pollutants into the river! Perhaps the most startling pictures have been those of peacocks, deer, nilgai, geckos and porpoises in surroundings where they are not usually seen.

In the short span of a month it has been made abundantly clear to us that we are living beyond the natural boundaries of the planet. The debate on whether climate change is a result of human actions or not should end now. Climate-deniers should sit up and take notice. The planet has shown that it can regenerate in no time if we do not mess with it. Sadly, it has taken a pandemic to remind us of our vulnerability and make us aware of our culpability.

In 2019 the Earth Overshoot Day was on July 29th. It is a day to officially mark the point in the year at which we have exhausted the natural resources the Earth can generate in one year. This day has been coming earlier every year for many years now; however, thanks to the lockdown conditions, this year could be an exception. We are living on borrowed time and playing a dangerous game whose steam is destined to run out.

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Wehrlein wins big for Mahindra Racing in Monaco

Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein knocked BMW I Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther off the top spot with his stunning lights to flag victory in the third round of the ABB Formula E ‘Race at Home Challenge’ held on May 9th 2020.

Sitting in pole position, it was Wehrlein’s show all the way on the historic Monaco street circuit. “The start was very important,” said Wehrlein, after the race. “I’m not sure what happened behind me, but I saw there was a crash. After that, I had a small gap, and I just worked to keep the pace.”

The ‘Race at Home Challenge’ is part of Formula E’s fundraising partnership with UNICEF to raise funds for comprehensive emergency projects around the world. The nine-week e-sports competition began with a non-point scoring pre-season test event on April 18.

Wehrlein, Mahindra Racing’s #94 driver, was relatively unknown for the first round on the virtual streets of Hong Kong. But his impressive performance at the Electric Docks circuit earned him the TAG Heur ‘Fastest Lap’ achievement in the second round, and made him the man to watch. And on May 9, nothing could faze Wehrlein. “Pascal has looked strong for the last couple of weeks,” said Dilbagh Gill, CEO and Team Principal, Mahindra Racing. “He had the perfect day today, scoring maximum points.”

Wehrlein scored maximum points for the event – 25 for the win, 1 point for the Julius Baer Pole Position and another point for the DHL Fastest Lap. “It’s nice to take the win for Mahindra Racing and get a full-points haul!” said an elated Wehrlein. Gill concurs. “It’s fantastic to say that Mahindra Racing won in Monaco! I’m very happy that as a team, we’re supporting Formula E’s Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF. The afternoon started well with Mahindra Racing’s sim driver Lucas Müller finishing second in the Challenge Race, and it just got better! The race for the championship is on.”

  Tweet of the Week

Pawan Goenka

Two takeaways for me from the PM speech, besides the 20L crore package. We cannot be hostage to the virus and need to get on with our lives. We have to start buying local and be vocal about it. @MahindraRise

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