Even in the toughest of times, you can’t panic as a leader: MakeMyTrip CEO

MakeMyTrip Co-founder and Group CEO Rajesh Magow had to deal with the difficult situation of seeing the company’s revenues plummet to zero.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone. While several sectors have been hit badly, some have been more affected than others, travel being one such industry. India’s largest online travel booking company, MakeMyTrip, understandably found itself severely hit amid the coronavirus crisis, as its revenues plummeted from $500 million a month run rate to zero, when travel had been completely banned. 

While the Gurugram-based company had to take certain tough calls, including laying off some of its staff, MakeMyTrip Co-founder and Group CEO Rajesh Magow said the leadership team knew they had to remain absolutely calm amidst the storm and wait for it to pass.

“There is no other way to do this as leaders, but to absorb and stay calm. So you can't be panicking. If you're panicking, you're coming across as not leading from the front, you're not leading by example. Then it's a doomsday scenario for everyone, because you are not being fair to the people who are looking up to you and that's a huge amount of responsibility on your shoulders,” Rajesh told YourStory Media Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma in late August.

The MakeMyTrip veteran, who was elevated to the role of group CEO earlier this year, said it’s important to remain grateful, even in the most difficult of times and count one’s blessings.

Rajesh Magow was elevated to the role of group CEO earlier this year

“Look out and then you actually sometimes feel privileged. Because sitting in a condominium, working from home all the time, having access to technology, having access to next door food, you can do whatever you want to pretty much. The kind of hardship is all relative, I mean look at the migrant labourers, what they went through,” he explained.

In the summer, as the country went into lockdown owing to COVID-19, several migrant workers and daily wagers undertook long journeys back home in the sweltering heat, on foot, as income sources dried up and public mode of transportation was completely shut down.

Rajesh believes the only way to come out of a time like this is not to crib, but to remain positive and truly believe that ‘this too shall pass’. “It has to pass, it cannot be like this,” he said.

While travel has now restarted, it is still going to be a long road for the travel industry. And MakeMyTrip is well aware of that, having put in contingencies for two years. The company’s Founder Deep Kalra, who was also part of the conversation, said, “We are not providing for a year but we are providing for two years. It will not go on for two years, but we can't risk it, there is too much at stake.”

Even though demand has started to come back, most stakeholders in the industry believe it will take years to get back to the pre-pandemic level of business.

Rajesh concurred, “Slow and gradual recovery doesn't mean this sector is out of the woods, not at all. It is going to be a long haul, it will take some time to recover to pre-COVID(-19) levels and we will have to continuously keep working towards it.”

Watch the full conversation here:


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