In early April, a few weeks after we went into lockdown, a friend called me and told me she lost her job. Her husband lost his job the week before. She was not eligible for the new JobSeeker payment. They had a brand new mortgage.
It hit home. Neighbours, friends, family, people who have never been without work – suddenly jobless, scared and stressed. 

Within a matter of weeks, we all knew someone impacted by the pandemic ripping through the world; either by the disease, or by the shockwaves it was causing.

What started as a health crisis simultaneously turned into an economic and labour market emergency. The speed at which it happened has little parallel, and left scant time to pause, reflect, breathe.

History will give us hindsight, but as the huge amount of change slows and we settle into the daily grind of tough times, we can still be hopeful in the moment.

Hopeful that poor leadership will be exposed, and those who display transparency, decisiveness and humanity will emerge.

Hopeful that the blind pursuit of profit and growth at the expense of employees, the environment, science and the community is not sustainable.

Hopeful that flexible work solutions will become tried, tested and embedded. 

Hopeful our healthcare workers will be fairly paid, and the healthcare systems they serve will no longer be underfunded. 

And hopeful that, once this is over, we will have learned to value those things we temporarily lost; a trip to the coast, the buzz of a busy restaurant, planning a holiday, Friday night drinks with friends, a hug…


What we’re hopeful about

Hope and optimism was evident recently at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit when CEOs, former Prime Ministers and business leaders gathered to discuss the economic road to recovery and how we could emerge from this pandemic a more balanced world.

Here are some of the key takeaways of what these leaders believe we have learned from this crisis and what they are hopeful about for the future.


Renewed trust in the workplace

Paul Scurrah, CEO Virgin Australia: This crisis has validated my own natural position of trust in my leadership team. The amount of work and output we’ve seen is a lesson we can take out of this crisis into normal times. We tend to boil the ocean and overcook things but we’ve been nimble and adaptive and that flexibility will serve us well in the future. 


Allow our people to get the best out of their lives

Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb County Manager: We can now enable our teams to work how they want to work. In terms of flexibility in hours and location we can now really get the best out of people while at the same time allowing them to get the best out of their lives. I really hope that’s something we, as a broader business community, take forward from this.


Be prepared

Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand: The message out of this is to be prepared. The world had its guard down with respect to a pandemic. We dodged a bullet with Sars in 2003. So be prepared. We’ve got all the public health plans dusted off now, we know what does work and we have to be ready to act next time. 


The value of international collaboration

Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister of Australia: I also have some hopes as we go through the pendulum effect of popular attitudes and political attitudes to the utility of the UN multilateral system. We were being pushed in one direction by Trumpian populism to say ‘UN bad’, ‘WHO bad’, but it’s coming back the other way which is why Helen Clark’s review is fundamental for the future.


A crisis is a terrible thing to waste

Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global. It’s through the times of greatest trial that we come to something we couldn’t even have imagined. If each one of us looks at our own lives we can see how times of trial, heartbreak, failure or disappointment led us to a place that ended up being better than we could have imagined. These are incredibly difficult times but I love the saying ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’. We need to look at all the things that weren’t working before because before Covid we were dealing with major crises; skyrocketing healthcare, mental health crisis, growing inequality. So this is an opportunity to say moving forward, we need to fix all that.


And I couldn’t agree more. The world was in big need of many changes before Covid-19 hit and this devastating pandemic is a warning shot to us as a civilisation to make some drastic changes.  

Let’s strive to look for opportunity in the gloom rather than blame and regret. Let’s find stories of optimism, innovation and ingenuity.  

Let’s stop, step back and look at the world that was running on empty and be imaginative and creative about how we can change it.

This will be the defining moment of our times. Let’s also make it our finest.


image source - Kaannostoimisto Transly via unsplash

Sarah O’Carroll

Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Finance ANZ

Sarah relaunched Yahoo Finance in the Australian market in 2018 with the mission to empower people to take control of their finances and careers and lead not just a wealthy life but a purposeful life. She is also the host of The New Investors show.

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