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Letter from... Madrid

13 July 2020

By F. Javier de Mendizábal Castellanos, CEO, ACH (Part of SEC Newgate)

Back in the 90’s I used to work for an advertising agency and its Chairman fundamentally believed that best way to handle a company such as ours, was walking around management. Everyone from the account department, the creative department, the designers, the study, the media planners and buyers... 

I can assure you that this was what he did every day, every hour until we went home (usually very, very late in the evening). He was a very bright man, an outstanding creative guy able to sell you the Empire State Building to shoot a commercial (the only problem for the account directors – which was my case – was making the dream a reality at an affordable price). 

Today I remember those days and I wonder how my former chairman would react under the situation that we are all currently living. Walking around management is impossible today, mainly because nobody - or at least 30% of the people in the best case, are in the office to walk around.

So, the question is: What can we do? First, forget about the medium-long term, and focus on the short term, the very short term. I wouldn’t say on a daily basis, but almost. Nobody knows exactly what's going to happen with the evolution of Covid-19, if we will be in lockdown again in a near future, or which are the companies that will survive and how and so on.  There are so many questions…

  • What about your holidays? We’ll see 
  • What about plans for 4Q? We’ll see. 
  • What about your children, can they go back to school? We’ll see. 
  • What about your presence at the office? We’ll see. 
  • What about the plans of your clients? We’ll see 
  • What about my salary? Pray to have a salary. 

So, in my opinion, the management style that we have to develop today is based on that: We’ll see! This means that we will have to develop an extraordinary capacity to adapt and re-readapt, in order to make decisions rapidly and to change them the day after if needed. It’s also important to have smart people around you to that can change your traditional way of thinking. 

Amid the uncertainty, there is still opportunity.  As to who will be able to seize it?  We’ll see.