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On March 19, 2021, Texila American University hosted a webinar on Leadership and Decision Making in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous, and Hyperconnected (VUCAH) times. The webinar was moderated by Mr. Syam Kumar, CEO, Texila American University. The speakers were Dr. Kamla Mungal, Leadership Educator and Coach, Kari - Gio Leadership Centre, and Ms. Chandini Singh, Director, GAICO construction and general services Inc.
Introduced in 1987, VUCAH has been a buzzword among management and business professionals ever since. Dr. Mungal starts her speech and explains that VUCAH relates to the volatility and change in the environment. She mentions, “I do not want to be a product of my environment; I want my environment to be a product of me.”
She adds how we have found a new purpose for existing technology in the time of the pandemic. One such example is how groceries can be ordered using WhatsApp. We did all that under duress. She tells the viewers that complaining is not helpful in times like this.
She advises the viewers to redefine and revisit the purpose and adds that learning is the future, productive and generative learning. She asks the viewers to ask themselves, “how can we do this better? How can we take advantage of this?” in a VUCAH environment.
Ms. Chandini Singh added to what Dr. Mungal spoke and said that she looks at VUCAH from a business perspective. She talks about how VUCAH was implemented in the construction company that she works for.
Ms. Singh relates VUCAH to how all businesses were affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. An example she gives for volatility is when curfews were put in place worldwide, and companies had to close early so that people could get home on time. She adds how the pandemic is uncertain, and the lack of a “best practice” to follow to manage the challenges results in ambiguity.
Ms. Singh advises, everyone can keep their goals in mind and work backward to obtain results. She adds that we need to understand the problem and the solutions we need; employers need to communicate with the clients and employees with clarity. She also asks everyone to analyze how adaptable they are, as adaptability is vital to handling VUCAH situations.
She talks in detail about hyper-connectivity and explains that a stressed person can easily pass on that stress to others. She emphasized the importance of taking time off and relieving stress so that it does not affect others.
The speech was followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Mr. Syam.
Mr. Syam asks Dr. Mungal about hyper-connectivity and the challenges attached to it. He points out that there is a lot of stress, and work-life balance is becoming hard to maintain. He questions her about what lies in the future for us.
Dr. Mungal replies, the more the world becomes connected, the more we will have to slow ourselves down. She says that by slowing ourselves down, we make decisions with more attention. She adds that it is crucial to focus on only one task and not stress ourselves. She mentions that little breaks can go a long way in providing the energy to focus on the task at hand.
For the next question, Mr. Syam asks Dr. Mungal, “Being an educator, how do you think institutions in Trinidad and Tobago have coped with the pandemic?
Dr. Mungal answers that a huge focus has been placed too much on providing infrastructure to continue education. Still, little priority has been given to the psychological aspects of the pandemic. She adds that kids have dropped out of school being unable to handle what is going on around them psychologically, and they will have to be brought back to school.
On a question about Ms. Chandini’s experience with COVID-19, she talks about how her industry handled it. She details the changes made to work timing and how the employees were asked to work on rotation. She also mentions that the pandemic is here to stay for at least one more year.
Dr. Mungal tells the audience that everyone will try to move back to traditional education and occupation modes. Still, it will not be efficient since people's expectations have changed, and a lot has moved to the online environment.
On a closing note, Dr. Mungal mentions that learning about the world we live in is an integral part of learning as we advance, and we should not be scared and petrified when we do not know what to do. She encouraged people not to restrict themselves to one way. She added that the world is changing faster than we can handle, and we will have to adjust to everything.
Texila American University has invested a fair deal of effort to provide education online to students during the COVID-19 pandemic. TAU has also launched CXC Academy in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Guyana to assist aspirants of the CSEC examinations during this pandemic and beyond.