Recap & Poll Results: Panel on Geopolitical Pandemic – April 29, 2020

Written by Atul Vashistha

Supply Wisdom at Shared Assessments 2020


Atul Vashistha, Chairman, Supply Wisdom


  • Michael Aisenberg, Principal Cyber Policy Counsel, The MITRE Corp
  • Valerie Plame, Former Covert CIA Operative Officer, National Security Commentator, Consultant & Author
  • Kevin Zerrusen, Managing Director EY
  • Davia Temin, President and CEO, Temin & Company, Inc,


Key Points:

  • Pandemic – public health effects and economic devastation – has been added to the threats we as a species face along with threat of nuclear disaster and climate chaos
  • The severe tension in democratic institutions we are experiencing leads to fear
  • Fear means regimes will take advantage of the situation
  • We will have to dig out from under economic catastrophe – massive layoffs that will lead to civil unrest
  • Civil unrest will have an impact on national security

Crisis is an insufficient word for what we are experiencing

  • We are somewhere between crisis and chaos
    • Causality is broken – there is no assurance that if you do a then z will happen it could be f it could be something completely different
    • Crisis rules don’t apply anymore

What every corporate and political leader should do in chaos:

  • Set an intent / aspiration a human goal of integrity and true north and set that directionally point of view

Poll #1 Results

Shared Assessments Geo-political Risk Panel Poll - 1

Many companies and governments are trying to get people back to the workplace

  • Federal and local Governments are involved to get back to a normal
  • Most are thinking about their strategy and some are already starting to open up

Challenges businesses are facing as they plan to reopen business / return to the workplace:

  • There’s still widespread fear
  • Workers are questioning need to go into the office and risk infection from transportation system and workplace when they can work effectively from home
  • Concerns about liability
  • Cost of redesigning offices to allow for social distancing
  • Wearing masks in the office – what message does that send?
  • What happens when 2nd wave hits?
  • During pandemics there’s almost always a 2nd and sometimes 3rd wave of infection that can be even more dangerous
  • Highly likely in September, October, November 2nd wave will require additional social distancing
  • May occur before there’s a reestablishment of the new normal


  • Start to see re-calculation of critical vendors
  • In past, squeezed the vendor for the best possible price
  • May need the vendors more than the benefit of the lower price
  • Want to think about building trust with vendors to cope with 2nd wave
  • Infrastructure – broadband specifically – not up to the challenge in terms of commerce (working from home) and education system

We will be changed profoundly – globally, nationally, and locally and personally by COVID:

  • Causality we had taken for granted (i.e. if, then) is broken
  • Those that succeed on the other side of this will be able to quickly pivot
  • The old ways of doing things in so many ways are not working
  • Companies that want to succeed past this, can’t rely on what they did before

Three rules of crisis management that do pertain to this situation:

  • Deny Denial – if we go into denial on a 2nd wave will be behind
  • Redundant Systems – The more important the function the more important it is to have redundant systems
  • It’s not over until it’s over – it doesn’t end because we want it to

Poll #2 Results

Watershed principles that unfortunately are in conflict with each other but must be married together as we move past this:

  • Agility – essential to any company, agency, or individual responding in this previously unimagined and unpredictable situation
  • Trust – Trust takes a long time and requires experience, engagement, history

Key Takeaways:

  • Restoration of trust in our institutions will be critical to get back
  • Real leadership is humble, looks to support others
  • Organizations need to review their mission and value statements and make sure they are living them
  • You and your organization will be remembered for how you perform during this crisis/chaos:
    • Whether you were self-dealing, told the truth with humility, kindness and humanity
    • How you treated your clients, your employees, your suppliers
    • Show up for your own people to help them with their pain
    • Set the example
  • This is a great opportunity to shine, don’t miss it
  • Companies that succeed going forward will do what is right
  • The silver lining may be the opportunity to change what hasn’t been working
  • Accelerate adoption of solutions that enable real-time and continuous location risk monitoring and intelligence