The global coronavirus pandemic has changed how businesses around the world operate. But according to Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, times like these reveal character. Instead of be afraid of the changes and challenges of the current landscape, companies have the opportunity to move forward through ambiguity, be agile and think differently about profits. Now is a great time to build community and strengthen connections.
Like all leaders of global companies, Mukherjee worries about the personal safety of her employees and customers. Her company has prioritized safety, family and community first. With so much uncertainty around the world, Mukherjee and her team choose to focus on what they can control to help their people feel protected. In many cases, that has helped strengthen relationships and build community through positive actions.
In the wake of a global shortage, many of Pernod Ricard’s alcohol brands around the world have shifted to manufacturing hand sanitizer. An employee suggested making the switch, and within 48 hours the program was approved and ready to start production. The global response has changed distilleries into hand sanitizer factories and helped keep people safe and healthy.
Building community also means being aware of people in the industry who have been hit hard by the economic repercussions. The Jameson Irish Whiskey brand donated $500,000 to an emergency fund to support bartenders who are out of work. Taking things one step further, the brand also promised to match donations, which inspired one of its distributors to also donate $500,000. One donation started a movement to support many people impacted by the pandemic. The brand and its employees want to do everything they can to help people who are out of work, and that goodness spread to others.
As the beverage industry changes and restaurants and bars around the world change their operations, Pernod Ricard has also adjusted. Customers are increasingly favoring virtual happy hours and toasting each other over technology. To support the new way of connecting, the company has strengthened its e-commerce business and worked towards pickup and delivery options.
In times of uncertainty, Mukherjee advises to make adversity an advantage. She realizes she can’t solve everything that’s coming in the future, but she can take it one day at a time. As she focuses her energy on what she can control and make it better, that attitude permeates throughout the company to create a mindset of positive change and community. The world may be volatile, but companies can do their best to create community and strengthen connections, even during difficult times.