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A conversation with Janice Wang, CEO of Alvanon and Catherine Cole, CEO of MOTIF

During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working arrangements have emerged at scale given the various measures deployed to limit virus transmission through close contacts. This poses a significant challenge for leaders to manage communication effectively. While embracing the shift in business communication using digital tools, companies are rethinking ways to transform their business models to strive for survival and adapt to new demands. In this process, it is important to equip an organisation’s human capital, the employees, with the right tools and knowledge to build capabilities for the future.

In the “Leading and Learning Through Uncertainty” webinar on April 16, 2020, Janice (CEO of Alvanon) and Catherine (CEO of MOTIF) shared the importance of preserving and enhancing workforce capabilities to pull through tumultuous times while continuing to innovate.

1. Review existing business structure

Disruption in business operations provides an opportunity for business to review their own internal weaknesses. Survival is about long-term planning with existing resources. For the whole company to proceed together, it is essential for management to retain human capital and establish a mindset of protecting the workforce by providing them with the best set of skills and opportunities to move forward. Janice advises that in the current situation, management should think about going digital to minimize redundant processes and review the available technical skills to execute the changes.

2. Engage employees in the process of change

Identifying inefficiencies in the company workflow is the top priority in survival strategy planning. Using a bottom up approach, leaders and managers can find out the needs at a localized level, especially as employees on the job are the ones who are most familiar with the day-to-day difficulties.

Since its establishment in 2001, Alvanon has evolved through creating a collaborative culture where senior management discusses openly with employees about the company’s vulnerabilities and their vision for the future. Alvanon’s management embraces employee empowerment and encourages them to share about their skill sets and how to use these skills to transform processes throughout the value chain. It is important to listen to employees’ ideas and needs and for managers to offer guidance, supplementing the change instead of directly instructing the team what to do.

3. Assist employees with online learning tools

As leaders and managers, it is important to build the future by leveraging employees’ skillsets while equipping them with new skills to adapt to the digital world. Providing access to online learning tools is one of the most effective ways to achieve this.

Janice highlights how Alvanon helps their employees to transfer their skill set from 2D manual work to making 3D programming tools – online training courses on 3D transformation and how to run a Fit Session virtually are becoming increasingly relevant for the fashion industry. This is an example of how Alvanon invests in their people for a longer-term practice in sustaining the business.

Note: In her latest blog post, MOTIF’s CEO, Catherine Cole examines how empowering teams with online training can help maintain productivity, enhance processes and boost morale in tumultuous times. You may refer to the blog post for further insights.

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