Mark Beasley, KPMG Professor of Accounting and Director of the ERM Initiative, moderated a panel of experts from Poole College of Management, Oracle and SteelFab who took a deep dive into the business challenges and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Panel


Mark Beasley, KPMG professor of accounting and director, ERM Initiative

Rob Handfield, professor of operations and supply chain management
Glenn Sherrill, CEO of SteelFab
Stephanie Trunzo, group vice president of transformation and offerings for Oracle

Our experts have been busy working on joint acquisition task forces to help with personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages across the country, keeping 11 steel plants open across the country and helping clients digitize their companies to market their products in a new way. Explore their professional tips and lessons learned from the pandemic.

Top 5 Lessons Learned

1. Hindsight is 2020

In a 2010 study with IBM, Handfield wrote about the extent to which businesses depended on the global supply chain and the damage a world-wide disaster, like a pandemic, could cause. His findings were validated in 2020 as many business leaders wished they were better prepared.

“I think one of the things I wish I knew, looking back, is the ability of organizations to prioritize learning to be flexible – really building that into your company mentality to find how rapidly you can make turns and pivots in your organization,” said Trunzo.

Having the ability to make quick decisions and changes to a business is crucial to a plan for business continuity.

2. Protect and support your team

One of the biggest takeaways from the pandemic is that we are still a people-dependent economy and businesses have learned how to better support every level of employee.

A company like SteelFab, which employs essential workers who continued in-person work during the pandemic, have implemented social distancing practices that included spaced working areas and staggered breaks to protect their employees.

Businesses with the capability to promote working from home, like Oracle and NC State, have utilized collaboration tools and reduced workforce fatigue by providing breaks and support to improve morale.

3. Position products and services to be resilient

>Handfield encourages businesses to be prepared for the next major crisis by expanding upon their awareness and responsiveness with their products and services. This includes reprioritization of values and understanding how to shift the delivery of products and services to reach consumers at home.

“Open the door to thinking differently about what your business does and how they interact with others,” said Trunzo.

4. Rethink your risk management plan

Our experts encourage businesses to think globally when adjusting their risk management plans in preparation for upcoming crises. This includes agreements with other countries and having disaster recovery plans.

Sherrill also reminds business leaders to keep employees in mind when creating a risk management plan. “You have got to be flexible and take the time to talk to your employees about what they’re going through [during a crisis].”


REPORT: Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2021 & 2030 
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5. Be prepared for the “new normal”

As COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out across the world, businesses need to be thinking about what the “new normal” of their business models will look like. For Sherrill, this is moving towards building “office hotels” where companies can rent business spaces for days at a time to maintain a work-life balance for employees.

Trunzo sees a more environmentally friendly “new normal” with the shift to digital learning and working spaces decreasing the use of paper and travel.

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ERM Enterprise Risk Management Initiative 2021-03-18