Why a gloomy prospect is not an option
Today’s economical climate is strikingly similar to a roller coaster ride with exuberant optimistic ups followed by cold-sweated downs. The world has been on this ride many a time, but it seems that the invisible architect of the world’s fairground will always find intricate ways of designing ever more unpredictable thrills.
Is it the deafening screams of uncertainty that overwhelm us or are the additional bumps produced by laissez-faire policies adding to our palpitations?
Pramod Bhasin suggests it is both. “The world is in a lot of doubt and that feeling has been escalating over the past six months. I find the investment climate to be more fearful now than what it was before even though we are on the way to recover. Each region is engulfed in its own worries.”
Bhasin is President and CEO of Genpact, one of the largest BPO companies in the world. In advance of the World Economic Forum Tianjin Meeting of New Champions, he recently shared some of his insights about the recovery process with Swiss Style. With both feet in the BPO business that serves customers worldwide, Bhasin acts as an economic barometer in that he can discern where things are going before they reach mainstream.
No news is bad news
Uncertainty became this summer’s catchword. US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke evaluated the markets this July as being “unusually uncertain”. That was preceded by eurozone’s single currency turning into a magic crystal ball amidst the Greek public debt crisis. The uncertainty around the EU banks stress tests took the global security markets for a few more merry-go-round laps in a hypersensitive frenzy. The end of the millennium’s first decade looks a lot gloomier the more we doubt it. Unless investors start acting in full force soon – read, today – the recovery will get too gradual, too weak and, consequently, too uncertain.
As Bhasin suggests, although it is true that governments stepped forward to aid the private financial sector through stimulus, they haven’t got back the desired reaction: a boost in overall confidence, investing and risk-taking. As it turns out, markets are holding back for when the storm is over. As he puts it, “It is a lot of risk-taking that companies are afraid to assume. In addition, there are quite a few things generating concern: climate change issues, political, regulatory concerns and lack of legislation. Therefore, it is too soon to end stimulus. Cutting the strings now is quite dangerous.”
Bhasin is cautious about stopping the expansionary policies in the industrialized countries at this moment as it might hit the wrong pedal for the global economy.
A time of choice
Thinking of the recovery as an outside process is the first stumbling stone. Companies should look at it as an opportunity, a redesign period, a time of choice. Bhasin is advising capital spending to be one of the ways to get through it. “Getting capital spending back is an important parameter that we are not focusing enough on. There is too much private money lying on the sidelines that could be engaged in all kinds of public private partnerships. It is about one’s proficiency and risk-taking to reassure the decision-makers to the point where they will open their wallets again.”
Another way that he suggests is to push for sustainable administration that focuses on efficiency in all areas. “The opportunity of improvement in the government sector across Europe is massive. Recovery is about making things more efficient, using your resources better. For example, it is proven that the efficiency of a public hospital can be increased two-fold without having to lay off people. Streamlining how it works, bring in better expertise, close gaps, and make it more efficient without increasing working hours. Other examples would be to adopt ways of issuing documents such as passports or tax forms faster. There are means to do it; the question stands whether there is political will.”
The puzzle of polarization
Uncertainty fuels divergence, disparity and polarization. Two years ago the global financial and political spheres proved they can unite their efforts to prevent the worse. Now, when in recovery, we seem to have lost that harmony. While America is pushing for more stimulus support, Europe is promptly arguing the need for fiscal consolidation in the industrialized countries, and India and China are holding onto their growth rates, streaming ahead. “Different parts of the world respond differently and while I hear that work should be done together, what I see is the opposite: disparity and no togetherness.”
Bhasin’s message is clear: there is no argument that each region and each country has its own particularities and interests, but simply because we tackled the crisis by common accord as intertwined as it was, we should organize the recovery process in the same manner.
Retaining the best
When changing times boost labour movement, how does one acquire and retain the best talent? “In our company,” Bhasin explains, “bonuses are not very large; my philosophy is leaning towards increasing the options for career growth, offering challenging tasks, empowering my teams through important assignments, creating enjoyable experiences and constructive feedback. These are, what I think, the most important motivators for our 42,000 employees worldwide.”
The secret, he adds, “is to spot and bring out the potential, encourage dynamism, respect your employees’ culture and satisfy their desire to progress as personalities and professionals.”
Time to move on
We have been dragged on a tough ride for the past two years: heads flew, wagons were lost and at times it seemed the whole world was sliding into chaos. How we got here now seems less important than how we exit it. Lately, the media has been blaming the low investment climate on lack of confidence, forgetting that it is not a point in the future to be reached but a state of mind to be conquered.
It is time to move on, it is time to change, and it is time to take it slow, but to take it.
Article by Helen Rocci