New Delhi: Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla Saturday said it is a period of “short forecast horizons and amplified ups and downs” due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has put the spotlight on not just the role of governments but of societies, companies, and individuals in creating better outcomes for all.
Addressing the 56th Annual Convocation of IIM Ahmedabad (IIMA), Birla also said despite the challenges brought about by the global health crisis, it has again “stimulated innovation as a broad swathe of companies and consumers have embraced digitization”.
Stating that the class of 2021 will be like no other before it, he asked the students to “first and foremost, define your North Star” as they graduate and move to the next stages of their lives.
“The pandemic and the last 12 months have again shone a spotlight on not just the role of governments but of societies, companies, and individuals in creating better outcomes for all of us. This is a period of short forecast horizons and amplified ups and downs,” he said.
Birla, who is also the Chairperson, Board of Governors (BoGs), IIMA, further said, “And therefore, a more important time than ever to define your principles and set your heading. Where do you fit in, and what do you want to be known for? Now is a good time to mull over and define the answer.”
He reminded the graduating students about the “young people of the World War 2 generation” who were witness to the massive increases in industrial productivity that came with ramping up automobile, aerospace, and other production to meet the needs of the war years and the demand boom that came post that.
Likewise, classes graduating in the dotcom bubble years of 2000-01 took away lessons about the husbanding of capital and the need to build more sustainable businesses that transformed what it meant to be an internet company.
“This pandemic has again stimulated innovation as a broad swathe of companies and consumers have embraced ‘digitization’. In the 4 months of 2021, the startup ecosystem in India added over 10 new unicorns whose mix represents everything from interest in financial services to business enablers and our need for human connectivity,” Birla said.
Underling that “this class is in a unique position”, the leading industrialist said, “Having had the ability to take a student’s dispassionate look at a world in turmoil, you are now stepping into it, to leave your mark as a young leader whose intellectual appreciation of business problems is balanced by a compassionate understanding of the people involved.”
Birla also exuded confidence that despite the suffering and losses due to pandemic, the virus will be beaten.
“Hidden behind the stories of loss and valour; agony and awe; ruin and revival; is the power of the human spirit. A collective spirit that has enabled us to wrestle with this pandemic for over a year now. A spirit that has been tested, again and again. But a spirit that will triumph, no matter what,” he said.