Needless to say, 2020 has played out far differently than any of us had expected!
When our team was planning for the 2020 Jardine Summer Internship Programme at the end of 2019, the vision was to bring all our interns, from around the world, to Hong Kong, to join the business teams here for six weeks in the summer. Very soon we realised that offline campaign events would not be possible, and international travel would need to be cancelled. Not long afterwards, we made the decision to convert the entire program to online - from assessments to the internship itself. Instead of meeting and assessing our candidates face-to-face, we had to deliver the whole experience online, meaning the interns finished the program without setting a foot into our office or even shaking a colleague’s hand.
We soon realised just how differently people interact through the screen than in real life. To get a message across, or to maintain effective connection among a team, a different set of skills and methodology are required - particularly when people have never met in person before. The challenges imposed on our interns were enormous and unprecedented, especially as they could find very little information as reference in the market and had to compete in an environment they were not fully prepared for. It was encouraging, and a little surprising in the end, that the program turned out to be a great success, for both our company and our very impressive interns, who demonstrated great qualities of leadership, resilience, and diligence.
Reflecting on this experience, as well as the CEMS survey findings, we agree that the traditional top leadership qualities, such as strategic vision and performance-driven still prevail. Team collaboration will take place virtually more than before and as such, communication has been expanded from its traditional form. Colleagues will need to stay connected, built rapport, form a team spirit, and deliver results, all via virtual platforms. Qualities such as adaptability, cultural sensitivity, empathy, decisiveness, and the ability to learn fast, will also be crucial to ensure the delivery of global projects.
Reflecting on this experience...we agree that the traditional top leadership qualities, such as strategic vision and performance-driven still prevail.... Qualities such as adaptability, cultural sensitivity, empathy, decisiveness, and the ability to learn fast, will also be crucial to ensure the delivery of global projects.
While international careers and agile working are not new topics, the scale and speed of how the market has reacted to adapt to such changes and challenges are surprising and encouraging. Our recruitment team, for example, working from offices and homes in several different countries and time zones, has now completely converted a full set of sophisticated graduate program assessment processes online, reaching out to talents in over 10 international markets.
We are prepared for the new normal of world order coming out from this pandemic. We hope to see our future candidates ready for it as well and look forward to them joining us with a vision of sustainable business success, and the spirit of resilience against unforeseen challenges.
For more insights from the CEMS Global Alliance on Leadership in a Post Covid-19 World, visit: https://cems.org/news-events/media-centre/press-center