Sultan Al Jaber: capability, crisis management and connectivity key amid Covid-19 crisis

Adnoc's chief executive says the pandemic is testing the strengths of these three qualities needed for any organisation looking to navigate the troubled waters ahead

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The ability to keep operating, crisis management levels and connectivity with your people are being put to the test amid the Covid-19 pandemic as organisations learn "something new every day and learning in real time", said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Adnoc Group chief executive.

The first responsibility of any chief executive is to protect the health and wellbeing of employees and to ensure business continuity at all times and under any circumstances, he said during an Adnoc virtual majlis discussion about the current crisis.

"The foundation of the UAE’s response has been comprehensive testing. At the same time, the UAE believes that international cooperation is key to managing the crisis. So we are staying connected to the rest of the world through health diplomacy, delivering aid and personal protective equipment (PPE) to more than 47 countries so far, when they need it and where they need it most," Dr Al Jaber said. More than 1.5 million coronavirus tests have been carried out to date in the country.

The lessons learned so far from the crisis include how capabilities are being tested every day. Can you keep your "people safe and their operations running smoothly", Dr Al Jaber said.

"Leaders are being measured against how well they manage a crisis… ensuring their organisations can run under stress. And then there is connectivity…How clearly leaders communicate to their people what they need to do to stay safe," Dr Al Jaber said.

Abu Dhabi has issued a set of guidelines to ensure the safe return of employees heading back to offices, retail outlets and others places of work in the city.

The instructions aim to “promote business continuity” for private companies while ensuring the “health and safety of employees”, as more people start heading back to work over the coming weeks and months.

Dr Al Jaber said that the need for remote working during the crisis has showed that "staying connected through digital technology has, in fact, been vital and extremely important. Our people have logged over 30 million minutes of video meetings over the last two months… and I am personally very much in constant contact with my people and my colleagues and my managers across all operations in different sites and platforms."

He said that "conveying a positive, optimistic and credible way forward… with humility and honesty… is, in fact, very essential. And it is okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers."

"It is essential to communicate a message of unity, that we are in this together and we will find our way through this together."

The oil market outlook remains unpredictable, Dr Al Jaber said, but he is optimistic that Adnoc can navigate this period of uncertainty. He highlighted that Adnoc is well-positioned due to its transformation programme over the last four years.