Covid-19 Pandemic: Innovation key to overcoming crisis

The Daily Star  July 16, 2020

Say speakers at youth skills summit

Staff Correspondent

Innovation, collaboration and adaptability should be the guiding principles for social or commercial entities to tackle the socio-economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, speakers said yesterday.

They made the comment at a webinar session styled “Socially Responsible Leadership in Fighting a Pandemic” during a Youth Skills Summit yesterday.

The summit was  organised in association with SBK Tech Ventures, Shah Cement and Mountain Dew. Robi 10 Minutes School, Youth Opportunities, Star Youth and Preneur Lab were the youth engagement partners of the programme.

They said the pandemic brought about unanticipated impacts on every aspect of life but it also created an opportunity for increased interconnectedness among organisations in a post-pandemic world.

The speakers made a call to the youth, saying that they have to have faith and a positive attitude and learn soft skills and new technologies for competing in the post-pandemic job market.

“I think adaptability is the most precious thing I achieved during this pandemic. There is no alternative of soft skills,” Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac, said.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Brac decided to stay on the field to serve the people.

“We ensured safety and security of the employees and then we started making people aware. We now hold a number of virtual meetings to keep employees motivated. Collaboration played a big role to reach the people. Nothing is possible alone,” he added.

Echoing the same view, Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone Ltd,

“We were physically distant but socially connected. The way we were collaborating with each other was never seen earlier. This pandemic brought together all that is a good for society,” said Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone Ltd.

He said when the pandemic started, they thought of bringing more people in the digital world, connect more people to each other.

“As a responsible entity, we thought and worked from the beginning of the pandemic to reach more people through various collaborations.”

Public, private and social organisations worked together to meet the social needs and address the problems, he added.

Tanvir A Mishuk, managing director of Nagad, said soon after the Covid-19 outbreak, various initiatives, including special medical packages, was announced for the employees to keep them motivated.

“Nagad, in collaboration with the government and garments factories, sent money directly to the people. We started with farmers and other such professions,” he added.

Arif R Hossain, co-founder of Aamrai Bangladesh, said there was no protocol set to work in a pandemic.

“The question was how to do social work while maintaining social distancing. Through trial and error, we moved forward with collaboration. Collaboration is the new strategy of moving forward,” he added.

He said there was a crisis in bringing young leadership but this pandemic brought forth some good examples like Bidyananda.

“I am worried about economic damage and the mental state of the people. It is not possible to run the country through emergency response plan. Now is the time to go for a sustainable long-term plan to move forward in the post Covid-19 world.”

Korvi Rakshand, founder of Jaago Foundation, said this pandemic reminds that change is the only constant.

“Situation was changing fast and we have to adjust with it. We learnt how to adapt with the change and how efficiently we can do it,” he added.

Jaago has around 3,500 students and a huge number of youth volunteers.

“During the pandemic, we started teaching our kids through mobile phones and SMS’s and for this we had to sensitise the parents. Now, we are piloting a project in Cox’s Bazar. We gave some tablets to kids and if it is a success, we may opt for this solution.”

He also said the volunteers were crowd funding and distributed food and other necessities to the people in need.

About job criteria for the young people in the coming days, Asif Saleh said that huge manpower will be needed in healthcare sector so the young people can prepare themselves for those jobs.

The CEO of GP said the young should not be frustrated or lose hope.

“Hopeful and positive thoughts, communication skills, hard work, honesty and transparency are the qualities required for the youth to do good for the society.”

Nagad MD said those who can think like youth will survive in the post Covid-19 world and the rest will be irrelevant.

Zunaed Rabbani, CEO of The Right King and AIRN, moderated the session.

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