We’ve always believed that business is a journey: one where your destination should be clear and charted and not hindered by “roadblocks” or delayed by “diversions”. An ability to re-set the strategy “sat-nav” when needed and to never stop looking at the road ahead whilst also checking in the rear-view mirror now and then. Our ability to stay focused, aligned to our growth mindset, strong sense of self, clarity of vision and relentless pursuit of progress saw us not only navigate our way through but flourish during the pandemic.
Strangely to some, we saw the pandemic as a positive experience and something that was as useful as it was unexpected. It gave us some great insights, “food for thought” and reaffirmed some things we already knew, felt, or thought. First, that such global events can affect all businesses and individuals, irrespective of factors like health or wealth. Second, that severity and type of impact is not linked to size: some of the smallest businesses have survived and thrived in the face of adversity whereas their bigger counterparts did not. Third, it’s all about strategy and mindset. Getting those right is critical in good times and bad.
In the years BC (before Covid!), we’d already embarked on a strategy to become more digitally dynamic, and were well-known for the strength of our online footprint. This paid dividends when the pandemic hit and consumers were forced to take to their computers for purchases. Whilst others saw their business suffer, we were able to capitalise. Operationally, we’d also started to explore the merits of a flexible working model. Whilst we had established offices in Dubai, it was evident that our rapid expansion meant we were outgrowing our home, so it made sense to have employees working from theirs! Deploying this approach delivered obvious rewards: first, greater business continuity since we were not affected by the restrictions imposed by Covid lockdowns. Second, greater employee engagement. With no fear of travelling during the peak of the pandemic, coupled with no disruption from restrictions, employees could still work, earn money and enjoy a sense of physical and financial security. Employees also said they felt the benefits of commuting from one room to another and not the office!
Our decision to be a “cloud-based” organisation meant that the home-based model was seamlessly supported, and being free of spatial and server restrictions meant we were able to align resource to business needs too. Another business model we had been actively exploring was that of offshoring and the need for this became increasingly apparent during the pandemic actually. With some of our employees scattered across the globe due to sudden and unforeseen travel restrictions, it prompted us to consider whether we actually needed them to be in Dubai at all! Could we transition them to work from their home countries permanently if they wanted to? And, could we recruit offshore for some roles too? Our analysis proved affirmative so we implemented a fast-paced remote transformation programme. These three operational changes saw us retain our talent and actually grow our workforce by more than 30% during 2020 & 2021. We were able to onboard employees through online induction and training, and once in role, manage them through remote methods too. Employees were also able to use their own laptops which not only meant we didn’t need to acquire but also was of benefit to the individual since they were familiar with their own equipment and “day one” ready.
We’ve not only optimised our operations but strengthened further through creating and taking opportunities. We know ourselves and the market and have used our connections, relationships, talents and knowledge to make intelligent analysis of not only our own proposition but that of our competitors to make sure we continued to lead the market, and not follow it. There is a saying, “fortune favours the brave” and we were courageous in continuing to build our brand, invest in innovation and expand where others cutback and curtailed. We formed new strategic partnerships in areas where we could bring added value to our customers to strengthen our proposition. We supported our key insurers in this tough time to show how much we valued them by trying to secure sustainable rates and they recognised and repaid loyalty by accommodating discounts when we needed them during periods of underwriting uncertainty. This was particularly important in the Motor line of business which was somewhat “dormant” in the days of lockdown and subject to “softening” with demands for refunds and rebates post-pandemic when drivers ventured back into their vehicles again. We continue to enjoy a healthy market share in Motor.
By comparison, Health insurance is in the ascendancy: with changes in buying behaviour post-pandemic showing consumers realise the value of the product. We’ve seen many customers upgrade their basic cover to a more comprehensive plan and even for the more entry-level covers, price is no longer the primary concern. Life insurance has also become a focus for many; with Covid making many contemplate their family’s financial future and seeking security for them in the long term.
The past two years have proven to us that we’re actively adaptable, set the correct strategy and above all, strong in terms of brand and resilience! In summary, we’ve demonstrated that whether times are good or bad, we’re able to weather any storm!