The success and failure of any company solely depends on the ability to manage the cash flow. If you can sustain yourself during a tough time, it all boils down to cash flow management, says Dr. Rajiv Bhanot, CEO, H2GO Global, in this HRO exclusive with Aditi Sharma Kalra.
A medical practitioner by profession, Dr Rajiv Bhanot moved on to pursue entrepreneurship after having spent some years working at a government hospital. Currently as the CEO of H2GO Global, a water tech company, him and his team are providing cutting-edge nano filtration solution to tackle the global humanitarian crisis of water poverty, currently providing drinking water solutions to nearly two million people globally.
In this interview, find out what keep this SME business leader on his toes, HR issues such as constant communication, prioritising projects that were procrastinated in the past, and the preference for working with younger talent due to their open mindset.
Q As an SME working on cutting-edge solutions for the global community, how have you been impacted by the pandemic? Especially on the manpower/workforce front.
The pandemic definitely hit every industry from healthcare to construction, retail, aviation, hospitality, and more. With the global borders being shut, we at H2GO were also deeply impacted. Mainly, many of our nationwide roll-out projects had to be put on hold solely because logistics delivery was slow due to the lockdown. In countries like Bangladesh and Colombia where H2GO is very active, interstate travel was prohibited which put a temporary stop on all the on-going work.
However, we made it a policy very early on, that we were not going to retrench anyone or implement any sort of salary cuts. In hindsight, we have brought onboard new team members to further expand the organisation's mission.
However, with that being said, we also ensured the usage of resources effectively, constant communication via digital platforms, revisited the drawing board on various different things, and got the ball-rolling on projects that were procrastinated in the past. Overall, utilising the access to technology and resources, we adapted to the current situation as best as we could.
Q In light of the global pandemic, how has your organisation been relentlessly bouncing back amid the 'new normal'?
Things are getting better for us, especially with the borders reopening, our work has resumed. We are undergoing an interesting and exciting phase within the organisation, as we will be launching new products within the next quarter, that we were able to work on during the initial lockdown.
I think one of the things that the pandemic did, especially because there was constant communication with everyone on the team, a strong bond was formed. Additionally, there were various members of the team that shined during this time, thus there were a couple of rockstars that really stepped up to the occasion.
Q The economy is taking a major hit with consumer spending decreasing significantly and supply chains being disrupted globally - however H2GO Global has been able to retain employees and hire new talent to join the team. How has this been made possible?
First and foremost, creating a platform or a company that is sustainable makes a huge difference. Based on my personal experience, always having the organisation's growth as part of the plan has allowed us to manage the cash flow properly. Yes, the pandemic was not ideal with cross border movements being disrupted but that did not affect what was going on for us.
We have also realised the importance of having a strong digital presence, i.e. H2GO Global now has a new website. Our team has spent most of their time on building e-commerce platforms for consumers to purchase our products easily. This was something that we worked on during this lockdown; understanding how we can keep businesses running with a significant digital presence.
As for HR practices, we have always hired qualified younger talent in the organisation. Sometimes I feel hiring individuals with many years of experience makes it difficult to remould them. Therefore working with a younger pool that see themselves growing with the organisation is a key practice that's put in place.
Q Do you currently have an HR function for H2GO Global? If so, how closely do you partner with them as CEO?
Yes, we do have HR in the organisation, however when there is the hiring of individuals, I seek to be a part of the recruitment process. I believe talent and experience are important, but on top of that, having a team that is able to work together as one unit is most essential. Whoever that joins the organisation must blend into the company culture that we are constantly trying to build, uplift and sustain. It would be pointless to have someone with immense talent, experience and all the abilities in the world but be disruptive to the company culture we have in place.
Q Please share some advice for other SMEs to maneuver through this difficult time while coping with the impact on their workforce - especially when it comes to cost cutting and possible retrenchments.
The success and failure of any company or organisation solely depends on the ability to manage the cash flow. If you can sustain yourself during a tough time, it all boils down to cash flow management.
If you need to make difficult decisions such as reducing your workforce and salary cuts then do it because that's going to help you sustain your cash flow.
However, at the end of the day, adaptability is extremely important. This pandemic is a huge crisis, we don't know what happens next but this is one that is keeping us at home, away from the workforce especially keeping the world locked in their homes. Adapting your business to be able to maximise your presence on a digital platform is very important as well.
I also co-own a healthcare business and during this time of COVID-19, we have ventured into enabling digital consultation. For consumers to speak with healthcare experts on an online platform that would to its very best mimic a face-to-face session. Therefore, this has allowed us to keep our businesses running. Overall, it comes down to communication with your team and as a leader making decisive choices that are best for your organisation.
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