Maha Bouzeid, the Vice President and Head of Sourcing for Ericsson Middle East and Africa, speaks about how her company is handling business relations during the COVID-19 pandemic

During this COVID-19 crisis, what measures have you undertaken to continue your own business without disruption?
Ericsson is closely monitoring the development around the coronavirus and following recommendations from relevant national authorities and international bodies. We are taking precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of employees, to minimize the impact on the company’s operations and to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. We currently have a large number of employees working from home globally.

Ericsson has a global supply chain set up, which ensures the company works close to customers through its European, Asian and American operations. Our main production facilities are in Estonia, Poland, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the US. All main Ericsson production sites are currently in operation. We continue to follow the situation of the pandemic and recommendations from local authorities and WHO, as the company assesses its supply chain.

What measures and initiatives have been taken to provide uninterrupted service to customers?  
Mobile networks are increasingly recognized as a critical infrastructure. We are continuing to stay close to our customers to understand their needs and we are doing everything possible to support customers to maximize their network capacity and performance.

Our engineers and field staff are part of critical teams deployed during a crisis. Even when a country goes into lockdown, our engineers are still active in order to keep the networks up and running.

Which top industry verticals and markets have you seen the maximum traction? How has COVID-19 impacted business with existing customers in those verticals and markets?
At Ericsson we don’t have a direct business with verticals as our go to market strategy is through the operators. Therefore, we can not really comment on their behalf. However, what we can share are our lessons learned from this crisis to further enhance our supply chain for the future.

Ericsson has multi-source suppliers, hardware production sites across all continents, and a solid risk management framework in place, all of which work very well during any supply crisis. The current situation is, however, different from previous crises, with many of our suppliers across all countries getting affected simultaneously.

Increased communication becomes even more critical during these times to stay aligned. We review each country situation daily and communicate more often with our critical suppliers. We are not only managing the current operational challenges but also planning ahead with different scenarios in mind.  

Have you put in place any contingency plans if this crisis persists or gets escalated?
As a global company with around 100,000 employees and presence in 180 countries, we are aware of our responsibilities towards the societies where we operate. We have a process and organizational set-up to deal with potential issues that our company may face, both to ensure the health and safety our employees and to minimize impact on our operations. Ericsson’s Group Crisis Management Council is responsible for the handling of major incidents or crises.

What sort of business and financial impact do you expect for your business as a result of COVID-19?
Our prediction remains for Q1, that we will see limited to no impact on our customers. For Q2 2020, our assessment remains that we can cover currently predicted demands, taking into account known implications and expected outcome from mitigations made following the outbreak. 

Have you kick-started any initiatives for your employees to better handle this crisis?
Yes indeed, we have launched several initiatives for our employees to better handle this crisis. First of all, we announced that employees who don’t need to be on the field, can work from home. Our IT team provide our staff with all the needed tools and programs to ensure they can work remotely in the most efficient way.

Secondly, our Internal Communications and Engagement department have kicked-off several internal initiatives towards employees including health and safety awareness communications as well as collaboration sites for employees to share different tips while at home such as sports activities or hobbies.

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