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Questions for the (hybrid) Boardroom in Times of Crisis: Short-Term Priorities

The following is an excerpt from our Navigating and Looking Ahead in Times of Crisis: Questions for the (hybrid) Boardroom publication, which gives directors and corporate leaders valuable insight into key risk management considerations. Read the full publication.

Today’s economic and geopolitical climate have fostered a new set of particularly difficult challenges for directors and corporate leaders, but also new opportunities to revisit business models and past practices in order for corporations to emerge stronger, better and more resilient.

Following up on our prior publication of an updated list of key risk management topics and issues, the following is a sample of issues related to short-term priorities. Neither this sample nor our integral publication is meant to be exhaustive: they were compiled based on our own board experiences and their relevance and analysis will vary considerably across industries, geographies and businesses.


The pandemic and the fresh series of crises and disruptions triggered by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine will undoubtedly have long-term implications on society, business operations, the economy as well as the reshaping of the global geopolitical context. They also have significant short-term consequences boards and corporate leaders must pay close attention to:

  • What is our short-term financial position? What is our revised financial outlook? Are there any immediate concerns that need to be addressed? What is the impact of the inflation and interest rates rise for our business?
  • What are the immediate impacts of the global rise in energy costs for our business, our industry and our competitors? Are there new challenges or opportunities to be identified? With China reopening, global oil demand is set to rise to an all-time high in 2023. How will this impact our business?
  • How is our business and market access impacted by the current and foreseeable future economic sanctions, notably with respect to Russia?
  • What are the potential effects of new protectionist measures around the world on our business and market access, including with regard to the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and similar upcoming legislation in Europe?
  • Have we witnessed trends of onshoring in our industry or from our competitors and what are the immediate short-term impacts?
  • Do we have workforce shortage issues? Is it an industry-wide issue or does it affect only our company or specific divisions of our company?
  • How is inflation and rising cost-of-living affecting our employees? Are they expecting compensation increases? What are our competitors doing?
  • What’s our return to work policy? Is it appropriate and competitive? Does it strike the right balance between the “old normal ways” and a potential “new and improved normal”?

Supply and Value Chain

While the pandemic has had an immediate and material impact on global supply chains and showed some of their vulnerabilities, the newly exacerbated geopolitical risks triggered by the war have removed any subsisting doubt about the need to re-think and possibly re-shape supply chains in many industries.:

  • How reliant is our supply chain on the physical importation of offshore goods? Can supply arrangements be restructured to reduce import risks, increase local content to manage any applicable market access risks, diversify providers and otherwise reduce delivery time?
  • What is our exposure to China? Is it realistic for our company to “decouple” from China or must we rather have an appropriate de-risking strategy with other jurisdictions, such as South East Asia, India, Mexico or the 10 ASEAN countries?
  • What are our main business continuity risks? How has the current geopolitical climate affected them?
  • Does our supply chain include sufficient flexibility and optionality to properly support our operations in the event of further disruption? What is the financial cost versus strategic advantages to building in greater supply chain flexibility and optionality and how do you measure pay-back?
  • Are we at risk of new disruptive requirements imposed by the customers or markets we serve (whether in terms of our sustainability, local content or otherwise)?

Cash-Flow, Financing and Capital Structure

  • What is our medium-term financial position? Are there any material concerns that need to be addressed?
  • What is our liquidity profile? Is there sufficient cash to pay costs over the short and long term? Can we service existing debt?
  • Are we prepared to operate in the anticipated economy? How can we face ongoing inflation and a high interest rate environment? What if the anticipated recession is longer and more severe than predicted?
  • Have weaknesses come into light in our capital structure? Will the market or lenders be supportive in the event we need to raise debt or equity?
  • How do we view our cost of capital and how does this impact necessary investment decisions? How do we calculate the return on investments required by the crisis and how does this impact the value of our business?
  • If operating on a modified or reduced capacity basis results in a loss, is this a justified cost or investment in maintaining the franchise? What are new operational models that need to be brought to bear?