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Featured Events | Apr 07, 2020 |

COVID-19 is Focus of Gabelli School’s 2020 International Business Week

By Marianne Fulgenzi

The COVID-19 pandemic and its current and future impact on global business and capital markets was the featured topic of discussion at this year’s International Business Week, a yearly initiative that highlights and celebrates the Gabelli School’s international business focus. This year’s conference took place in a virtual format, offering audiences the chance to join from home while social distancing measures are still in place.

All three sessions of the conference emphasized the substantial financial, cultural and operational impact that COVID-19 is having on global businesses and markets.

Ali El-Mahdy, CEO of Cairo-based Hassan Allam Technologies, GABELLI ’17, spoke about COVID-19’s impact on business strategy. He stressed the significant role CEOs must play in being a calm voice for employees, and the importance of being transparent with all stakeholders. Among the actions he believes CEOs must take now are to continue serving their partners and value chains, reassess short-and long-term value drivers and differentiators, and identify their priorities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving a continuing financial, political and social crisis, based in part on the uncertainty that exists about its duration. Presenters Andrea Mennillo, founder and managing director of Idacapital, a European company active in business diplomacy and infrastructure projects, and Marco Casiraghi, president of Engeco, a civil construction company, and FPMC, a real estate development company in the Principality of Monaco, warned of serious impacts to social behaviors and industries that serve mass markets such as cruise ships. Mennillo noted that we will need to wait until the “night ends” before the full impact of COVID-19 on business is known.

Emphasizing sustainability, Casiraghi cautioned that COVID-19 can either motivate leaders to utilize new, environmentally-friendly energy sources or revert back to old ways of operating, which would be easier for them, he said. He feels it is the responsibility of all corporate Boards of Directors to ask for and explore more environmentally-friendly options, adding that history has shown that crises make us better global citizens.

Capital markets also will be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing an expected decrease in supply and demand that will have negative consequences for the supply chain, said Adrian Kingshott, CEO of Adson LLC. Among his predictions are a continued decline in GDP, a surge in unemployment in the U.S. that could potentially reach 15 million people, and a short-term decline in all major exchanges. He notes that stimulus packages will provide only short-term relief and stressed the importance of growing consumer confidence and availability of business loan acquisition, along with lowering the actual and perceived default rate.

On a positive note, Kingshott believes that, based on history, the economy will eventually rebound.

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