7 questions for 7 consultants: Ignasi Ferrer
Given the uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including potential adjustments to the way the industry is going to operate, we wanted to find out how our team fared through the COVID-19 situation and how they see the world evolving in the coming months. We’ve asked 7 questions to 7 of our consultants from all around the globe. Today, we interview Ignasi Ferrer, who is a Vice President in our Dubai office.
What has your experience been like during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Full of ups and downs. First of all, I am grateful my family and friends have all stayed safe. I feel incredibly privileged because COVID hasn’t brought anything I couldn’t bear or permanently affected my life. I have also appreciated a few things I don’t usually get to do, e.g., cooking at home, having calls with groups of friends whose agendas are often busy… Even making myself more comfortable at home, which before the lockdown used to be less of a priority.
On the other hand, gradually realizing that lockdowns and movement restrictions are here to stay for a while has been tough. In any case, it looks like the worst is past us… I hope the time I climbed the building emergency staircase to exercise remains a one-off event in my life.
How do you think Delta Partners has handled the situation? What would you highlight?
With the utmost transparency since day one. At Delta, everyone was made aware of what were the potential implications for the immediate future of the company. I personally appreciated having a weekly touchpoint with complete visibility over the company’s commercial efforts and priorities.
I would highlight two things: (i) the speed at which the company reacted, as tempting as it may have been to wait and see; and (ii) the number of initiatives put in motion to foster a sense of togetherness and help reduce stress. In hindsight, anxiety might have been our worst enemy, as none of the dimmest scenarios took place.
What are you most looking forward to when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted?
As I’m back in the office already, I have had the chance to reconnect with the wider team. One of the things lost while working from home are those casual chats and laughs with colleagues that work on different projects. I don’t think I thought this would be something I missed so much until I had it again.
Also, I can’t wait to be able to go to crowded places – one of the last things I did before the lockdown was going to a vibrant concert at the Dubai Arena and that seems so far away now. I’m looking forward to picking up old routines like my Saturday football games. And obviously, being born and raised in Barcelona and with summer coming up, I’m very much looking forward to paying a visit to my family and friends. Here, mom, I said it.
Are there any skills you have learnt or habits you have developed during the pandemic that will benefit you in the post-COVID-19 work environment?
I have become more output-focused and structured. As an example, in the pre-lockdown world, I would start the week setting my team’s and own key to do’s for the week without necessarily communicating them to the partner. I relied on being in the same physical space and finding the most convenient time to pop up into their office and catch up. Once the lockdown was implemented, we identified the need to do this catch-ups in a more structured manner, setting a 30’ internal weekly update. We have kept this modus operandi even after the lockdown.
On a personal level, I’m one of those people that got into new sports to try and forget football. I started cycling, and I’ve found myself waking up at 6 am to do so… on Saturdays! Also, if you happen to be looking for rollerblades, I have a fantastic once-used-only second-hand pair at a price that is a steal.
How much of a change do you expect in the way mgmt. consultants operate in the post-COVID-19 world? If you expect there will be change, in what way(s)?
Over the last months, we realized there are many things in today’s work dynamics that we brought from the past and don’t necessarily make sense nowadays. Is it correct to assume that people are more productive while at the office than at home? For many of us, ‘Work from home’ was an occasional possibility, which sometimes felt it carried a negative connotation – why deny it. COVID has triggered a massive overnight WFH experiment, and I believe even the most skeptical opinions have been proven wrong.
I hope we are all moving towards an even more output-focused mindset, at least internally. Why not focusing on ways to measure results rather than hours? I expect immediate small cultural changes to take place, e.g., not feeling uncomfortable about asking your boss to work from home on a Wednesday; or people going for partial work policies such as moving from a 5-day workweek to a 4-day one.
At the end of the day, however, we strive to make our business a relational one as opposed to transactional, and this is more easily achieved through in-person interactions than behind a screen. So, with respect to our clients, I expect us to quickly return to old dynamics, at least in investment banking.
What kind of priorities do you think will be important for telecom, media and/ or tech players in this post-COVID-19 context?
This pandemic has accelerated the adoption of numerous products/use cases, which in turn provides TMT companies with tremendous growth opportunities – across the whole spectrum, from telecom/digital infrastructure to online games and entertainment, as well as consumer and business SaaS. A number one priority would be to ensure this growth becomes structural, rather than a one-off spike in the P&L.
At the same time, pursuing growth requires capital, and the current uncertainty surely puts certain investors off. When going out to the market to raise funds (either equity or debt), it is going to be increasingly more important to highlight the solid part of the business and underlying unit economics.
Any advice or recommendation you would give to new Delta Partners joiners, in this new context?
I would encourage them to make an effort to socialize – e.g., proactively introducing themselves through short 1:1s. Making yourself more visible, as opposed to the natural hiding that may happen when working remotely, will help you. Delta is a small family, and everyone will be glad to welcome you and put a face to that voice in Teams.
Arguably, fresh grads are the most affected by this new situation. There’s a lot of informal training done by observing your team members, and a great deal of that is lost with reduced time spent together. I’m thinking about that 5’ debrief right after a call, or the opportunity to go for lunch with a senior colleague.
A former boss of mine once told me everyone in their first job has 100 days to make any questions without having people raise an eyebrow. One way or another, new joiners need to find the space to share their questions and suggestions in this new context.
As a final thought, we all have a golden opportunity to change how certain things are done right from the start with our new joiners. Let’s avoid teaching them our legacy habits of the office-only era.