Adaptability necessary to emerge stronger post-pandemic
25 September 2020
On 24 September, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK welcomed guests to the second edition of our high-level webinar series "Emerging stronger on the other side". The discussion focused on the preparation for normalcy after the pandemic for business and society. The conference featured a line-up of prominent speakers, all experts within their respective fields, including Cecilia Malmström, Visiting Professor at University of Gothenburg, and former EU Trade Commissioner, Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and Chairman of Volvo Group, Ylva Berg, CEO of Business Sweden and James Sproule, UK Chief Economist at Handelsbanken. The discussions were moderated by Nik Gowing, Director and Founder of Thinking the Unthinkable and former BBC news anchor.
All participants to the discussion seemed to agree that the pandemic we currently find ourselves in will not have a clear ending. Ylva Berg concluded that ‘the other side’ will not look like what we were used to seeing before the pandemic. “I think the pandemic has affected all parts of our society in a profound way - our personal lives and business lives, but also the geopolitical and global society in a way which is something that we will have to get used to and live with for some time.” Reiterating what Cecilia Malmström and Carl-Henric Svanberg had earlier touched upon, Ylva stated that there is good transformation taking place right now at a rapid pace and that we should plan for the worst and hope for the best. “If we have a more positive view and really try to fight for that, we can both see business opportunities and also use what we have learnt during the pandemic and apply that to other areas in society."
While starting off by stating that the UK is facing the worst recession since the second world war, James Sproule expressed optimism regarding the future. “I think that global trade and globalisation will turn more towards the sharing of ideas rather than the transfer of goods. The big driving force in the future is going to be the desire of people to talk to one another, to share ideas, processes and approaches. The people who do well in the long-term and are not the strongest but the most adaptable. I see a great deal of adaptability within many European economies and societies and I think that’s ultimately a huge strength.”
Responding to the question of what businesses will emerge stronger post-pandemic, and what the positive societal effects the pandemic will bring, Carl-Henric Svanberg concluded that digitisation offers tons of opportunities. “No one can predict exactly what the future holds and what jobs will actually emerge, but by giving entrepreneurs the right opportunities and making sure that the infrastructure is there, they will create a ton of jobs.” He also stated that we will not see a greening of economies unless we also manage to successfully digitise. "Almost every green idea that comes up is based on new technology."
Cecilia Malmström concluded that it is necessary for politicians, government and businesses in western democracies to realise that there is something on the other side and that we must come out stronger. “It is not the first time we face a pandemic, it will not be the last time, and there will also be other huge crises. This is an opportunity to really get together and to formulate new visions and make sure that they are broadly anchored into different parts of society. It may sound a bit banal but I think that’s the only way forward.”
Watch the webinar on Youtube
Did you miss the chance to attend the webinar? We have made it available on Youtube in its entirety, where you can listen in on the discussions.