Corporate Insomnia. What is keeping CEOs up at night?

03 Sep 2020

Corporate Insomnia. What is keeping CEOs up at night?

In the second part of this interview with Workday Co-CEO Chano Fernandez, Michael and Chano discuss priorities for businesses over the next 12 months post-pandemic.

Michael: Welcome back for Part Two of our At Home interview series with technology CEOs, and today I'm joined by Chano Fernandez, the Co-CEO of Workday.

Chano, from the conversations that you're having with other business leaders, what's keeping them up at night? Where are you advising them to prioritize over the next 12 months?

Chano: A number of things are keeping them up at night especially for the CEOs of some of the industries most affected by the pandemic, but I think there are great silver linings as well, that some of these leaders are appreciating throughout this period.

Some leaders are very frustrated if their companies are not ready for this new way of working, either from a technological perspective or from a process or change management perspective. The way they've been doing things is quite different to how they need to operate right now.

This crisis if anything, has been an eye-opener, and it's going to be an accelerator for the digitalization

of businesses that we've been talking about for quite a while now, Michael. You can see leaders thinking about that and thinking, ‘now is the moment’, and considering the best way to tackle it and do it right.

Businesses are either in on recovery, thriving, or in rebuilding phase. Of course, depending on what stage of that journey you are on, you have different priorities. I would encourage any leader to analyze the learnings from this crisis and think deeply about how to stay relevant under any scenario. What needs to change, if anything, in your business model? I think that's the right question to ask. That's the right question we, as a company, are asking ourselves too. 









Michael: I’m curious to understand how Workday has embraced this virtual working world that we find ourselves in? Has it been a fairly seamless process of getting people to work virtually or has it been more challenging than you'd expected?

Chano: It's been a fairly seamless process, I would say. I think we're all surprised at how rapidly our employees have adapted to working from home.

The feedback from our employees is not different to many companies, our employees are telling us, "I'm willing to go back to work but only if it is looking like the way it was before. If it is wearing a mask, and social distancing, and A teams and B teams, I'm not that excited about the idea because I'm fairly productive in a virtual way”.

That's been pretty exciting and pretty interesting. I think we will end up on a hybrid model, two to three days at work, a couple of days working from home, and maybe changing or alternating per week.

From a product perspective, to go into a little more detail. We have two big releases per year, and this last one we did during COVID has been the first one we've accomplished fully remotely with no issues. From a project implementation perspective, to give you some examples, we were already carrying out our projects either for implementing HCM, or financials 70%, 80%, remotely, but we moved to a complete 100% remote implementation for Workday and our partners have been doing extremely well. We've managed to take over 100 global customers fully remote, Michael. Some of them as significant as Shell, or John Lewis here in the UK, were done remotely.

Michael: I want to finish up with looking to the future. I think as we, however long it takes for us to emerge from both the tragedy and the disruption that we've been facing during the pandemic, as we look to emerge from that, it's important for business leaders like yourself to think about how we can accelerate again and look to find growth even in potentially recessionary periods. I am really curious to understand, are you putting in place any specific initiatives to help the business to grow again or to continue its growth?

Chano: It's a great question. The short answer is we are. What this period has allowed us to do is to go back and reflect on your strategy, but let's say more concretely, you go back and reflect on your business model, and you start thinking, what are the things that are really strong and resilient and are working really well on that business model? What are the things that don’t and that we should reconsider?

That's what we've been discussing, to be honest, and we clearly came up with some outcomes and we're already implementing actions out of those outcomes. This could be product-related; what are the things that we need to challenge or basically do differently from a product perspective? It could be go-to-market-related, it could be back-office-related, it could be a process or it could be a strategy, right? I think I would encourage people or other executives to start thinking more on the business model, to make it better and emerge stronger out of this crisis.

Michael: Very good. Thank you, Chano. On behalf of all our audience watching, I thank you for your time and the wonderful insight that you've provided. My best to you, your family, and of course, all at Workday. Thanks for investing the time in this conversation. Chano: Michael, thanks to you for inviting me and thank you for the great partnership. I enjoyed the conversation, stay healthy and having fun. We're both coming stronger out of this.

In this At Home interview series, Michael Drew speaks with technology CEOs about leading through disruption. You can catch up with all episodes in the series here: CEOs At Home