In the wake of the global pandemic, societies and economies are fervently working towards recovery and resilience. The post-pandemic era presents a unique landscape marked by lessons learned, transformative changes, and the pursuit of a more sustainable and inclusive future. As we navigate this unprecedented journey, the focus is on rebuilding, adapting, and fostering innovation to create a world that is not only healed from the recent challenges but is also poised for enduring growth and positive transformation. This sets the stage for discussions on the multifaceted aspects of post-COVID-19 recovery and the opportunities it brings for shaping a better tomorrow.

Nowadays, the demands placed on leaders are becoming more intricate and difficult. The demands of those in positions of leadership are rising as apparently intractable issues surface. Thus, as the year 2023 comes to an end—and while simultaneously welcoming the year 2024—here are some of the most important insights and lessons that I have learned as a leader during the post-pandemic economy; lessons that have helped guide the success of the Firm in preparation for a more vibrant 2024. 

The pandemic’s impact on the economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously changed the economy, both locally and globally, as it has challenged traditional ways of doing business. Companies that heavily relied on brick-and-mortar sites were forced to expand to a different channel: going online. This immediate shift allowed them to cater to more clients online, consequently growing their potential market, thanks to the majority of people's reliance on the online channel during the pandemic.

The workspace requirement for businesses has also been affected because now employees are getting used to working remotely or from home rather than going to the office every day, which in turn has opened a lot of new ideas and precedents on how businesses can operate effectively even without their employees being physically present for work on a daily basis. 

The impact on the Firm and its clients

Despite the devastations of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the perspective and experiences of the Firm, it was more positive than negative. The year 2023, and our 35th year in the industry, saw the Firm’s transition to new leadership. Our business strategies have not changed significantly; we are still on track with our 5-year strategic plan, which was conceptualized and developed to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic and position the Firm for growth despite disruptions. 
Business outsourcing has provided opportunities to expand our revenue streams. In addition to the positive financial impact, it enabled us to tap into global markets through the Grant Thornton (GT) network, catering to and fulfilling business outsourcing requirements across different countries. Our other service lines also experienced robust growth during the pandemic. Now, it is stronger than ever and more in demand due to the steady recovery of businesses.

As for our clients, the impact has been either positive or negative, depending on the industry they’re in. In retrospect, the diverse effects of the pandemic were dependent on the agility of business operations and being quick to adapt to a changing business landscape. Thankfully, those negatively affected have since recovered. There has also been an increase in revenues in the retail and hospitality industries. In 2024, many are predicting an upward trend for the global economy, as seen in the rising optimism on all fronts, especially among mid-market firms. 

Specific challenges that Philippine businesses are facing on the road to recovery

One of the main concerns that shrouds the Philippine economy is the availability of talent, which is a general problem prevalent in other countries as well. Finding and retaining the right talent to sustain and support business operations, as well as the need for rescaling existing manpower, will continue to pose challenges for companies, requiring increased investment in skills training and development.

Digitalization is also a hurdle for most Philippine businesses since it entails large costs and diverse options. It is critical to choose the right investment in technologies that will support their specific business strategies.

Aside from the pandemic impact, the ever-increasing regulatory requirements for businesses in the country have slowed down their recovery. Moreover, the current tense geopolitical climate has affected the global supply chain, creating access restrictions and the scarcity of certain commodities and other raw materials.

Being a member of the GT Firm network, we have learned the true power of collaboration and unitedly striving towards a common goal. In times of constraints and limitations, we were able to access resources and insights to transform challenges into opportunities. We desire to extend that collaboration with Philippine businesses as well, not only to sustain them but to drive their further growth in today’s economic landscape. Whether it be filling in the talent or skills gap or helping in their compliance with regulatory requirements, our partnership with these businesses goes beyond meeting their needs but envisioning and making the necessary steps to where they want to go and who they want to be. 

Post-pandemic economy trends and adaptability of competitive businesses

Since the last few years, and this will extend into 2024, the increasing use of new technology has continued to be the post-pandemic trend. The majority of global and local businesses will continue to harness the power of technology, including AI, to expedite their post-pandemic recovery by finding new ways to utilize these advancements for enhancing efficiency and developing innovative strategies. Yet with all these benefits of the digital age, it is critical to strike a balance between the technology being used and the people using it. Prudence must be practiced at all levels of utilization.

AI can now be used by businesses to re-evaluate and develop their sustainability initiatives, which focus on the environment, corporate governance, and social issues, among others. For the upcoming year, the number of stakeholders looking to invest in sustainable businesses is steadily increasing. Lastly, with the changes in the current work models and culture in general, talent acquisition and retention are significant considerations for business continuity. Businesses are now coming up with unique strategies to acquire and retain skilled workforces to sustain their operational growth and success. 

Preparing for potential future disruptions

The most significant impact that the pandemic brought to the economic world was the realization of our vulnerability against unprecedented disruptions. Despite having intricate business policies and tight-knit securities and systems in place, it is still impossible to be 100% foolproof against unfamiliar and unknown threats. This is where the pivotal role of leadership comes in, because the direction and drive from the top will ensure the continued motivation and preparedness of the organization against unpredictable events that could happen in the future. 

Expectations for 2024

As I see it, there will be significant economic growth to uncover in 2024. More businesses are becoming optimistic and are taking progressive actions towards the future. I still believe that most of them are nimble enough to address the setbacks brought by the pandemic and come up with solutions that can propel them to growth. It is imperative to have a circumspective outlook, always looking at the brighter side of things, and still believe that threats and crises may arise at any second to prepare for them. That is simply what all great leaders do.

Leaders now face the challenge of navigating the post-pandemic economy by integrating the lessons learned from the past years and coming up with forward-thinking strategies for the next. Adapting to new norms and embracing change will be central to long-term success. Coupled with resilience, technological investments, hybrid work models, global collaboration, investment in employee well-being, and creative innovation, 2024 is bound to shine a whole lot brighter.


As published in The Manila Tmes, dated 03 January 2024