Tell us a bit about how you reacted to the corona situation with your business?
In the very early days of March, we set up a travel advisory team to advise and keep track of employee travel in the early stages. We monitored the situation closely, listening to the city and government guidelines where each of our offices are located. Towards March 10th when it became apparent that it was the safest decision, we mandated our employees work from home. As soon as this decision was made we instituted daily stand-ups at both team level and global office. We also set up a daily Management Team catch-up and Leadership twice a week. One month in we started reducing the cadence of meetings because things felt like really flowing well and there was less of a sense of urgency.
What was driving the decision to act this way?
We were very quick to recognize the severity of the situation, and when we did, the health and safety of our employees and anyone visiting our offices were absolutely paramount. We also wanted the situation to be as less disruptive as possible for Mirakl workers and to that extent making quick decisions and establishing clear guidelines is the way to go. Similarly, we communicated very quickly to our clients to ensure them of the full continuity of our operations, business as usual yet in a more than unusual context.
How did the process of getting the decision differ from business as usual?
We always make decisions of this magnitude as a management team. But, as mentioned above, we created the travel advisory team who were also monitoring the situation closely, and we were in constant contact as news rolled in and the situation evolved. Working from home has changed the way we do business in some ways, but I think we made the decision to work from home the same way we would have made any big decision - as a leadership team, in a timely fashion, and with the safety of our employees as a priority. This reactivity allowed us to very quickly start thinking of initiatives we could take to react exceptionally to an exceptional situation. Marketing started working on virtual events, new messaging, etc., client success put together webinars to allow our clients to share best practices in times of crisis, HR implemented new open lines of communications, surveys and employee engagement virtual events.
But the highlight of Mirakl's reaction to the crisis was the launch in 48h of the StopCOVID19.fr marketplace. This platform endorsed by the French Minister of Economy and Finance was a pure innovative and disruptive initiative to find a way to solve the shortage of critical protective equipment in healthcare facilities, public administrations, and large companies. As a marketplace it efficiently and at scale connects supply and demand to facilitate product search and transactions. It is operated 100% pro-bono by Mirakl which has dedicated 15+ people to this project. So far millions of masks, litters of gel, protective robes, etc. have been sold helping save lives. This initiative has been decisive for the whole company and there will be a before and after.
What do you personally learn from this experience?
I have happily seen first hand how adaptive and resilient our employees are, and the company as a whole. This is a scary time for many, but we are figuring out our new routines and working just as hard, if not harder, from home. As a business leader, it has also exposed me to faster decision making, given me the opportunity to follow my instincts whilst finding the right ways to engage other leaders of the company. It is not over so every day brings new learnings.
What is your message to business leaders that are struggling at the moment?
Put health and safety first, seek employee feedback, and plan for the future. It's hard to see beyond the scope of this crisis, but we will recover, and we need to know what our plan is for that time. As Einstein used to say: "In every crisis lies a great opportunity".
Who should we interview next?
Scott Friend (Bain Capital Ventures)