Having led several industrial companies over the course of my career, I can truly say that the job of running a business has changed almost beyond recognition in recent weeks. Since I took over as CEO of ABB on March 1, COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, affecting the lives of billions of people, and challenging the way we do business, work and live. Globally, COVID-19 is also severely disrupting the economy, with unpredictable and possibly even irreversible consequences.
As the new CEO, I am so impressed by the way our people have adapted to the rapidly changing circumstances. We are constantly monitoring the evolving situation around COVID-19 and taking all necessary precautions in line with local government and WHO guidelines to protect our people around the world. These measures include restricting access to ABB premises, promoting “social distancing”, restricting travel, and promoting good personal hygiene practices. Wherever possible, we have also made the appropriate arrangements for employees to work from home.
Since the outbreak started, our leaders and teams have gone above and beyond the call of duty to safeguard the health and safety of our people and communities, and to maintain business continuity, in challenging circumstances. In our factories, we are sparing no effort to ensure that our people are safe and protected from the risk of infection. I am particularly proud of all our colleagues involved in keeping our operations going. Their team spirit, unity and personal commitment are an example to us all in these extraordinary times.
ABB serves society by supplying and maintaining critical infrastructure to keep essential goods and services available and running. We are working around the clock with our customers and partners to maintain power supplies and services deemed critical by local governments. Our teams across the globe are also helping our customers and partners maximize our existing digital services to keep critical services running safely, and we are finding new virtual ways of connecting with each other and our stakeholders.
To further support our customers, we have decided to make some of our software services available free to ensure uninterrupted power supplies to critical healthcare applications and to support commercial and industrial facilities in better managing their facilities.
To help our communities, we have donated masks and used our resources to deliver protective equipment to hospitals and frontline workers in some of the most badly affected countries, such as China and Italy. We are currently working with governments to assess where ABB could use its technology and expertise to support the production of critical equipment, such as ventilators and masks.
For as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues, we will remain focused on three key priorities:
- First and foremost, we will work to keep our people safe.
- We will secure our business continuity to the greatest possible extent to help our customers, suppliers and partners get through this crisis – and, at the same time, also support them to secure their own business continuity.
- Finally, we will keep our eye on the long term and maintain and preserve critical capabilities so that we can help our stakeholders and society emerge stronger from this crisis.
With many critical services and industries at risk of being overwhelmed or shut down, we all need to work together – governments, business and civil society – to keep our healthcare systems, power networks and other essential services operational. The health and wellbeing of all of us – workers, families, society and future generations – depend on it.