Cindy Lam (center), Clip, connecting with her colleagues in Switzerland, via video conference from Hong Kong.

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Cindy Lam
Director, Clip
Location: Hong Kong
Date of writing: April 4, 2020

How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
With our head office in Hong Kong and our design studio in Lausanne, Switzerland, we are used to working long-distance. Our go-to platform is actually WhatApp. We find it’s the fastest and most flexible.

What news outlets are you following?
The South China Morning Post for following the situation in Asia. And the Swiss national broadcasting organization RTS for the regular update from the Swiss government.

How are you passing time?
This time seems to be perfect for tackling things that have been lingering on bucket lists. Our team has been keeping busy by reupholstering old furniture, painting walls, knitting, growing plants, baking bread, making photo albums, and of course, doing all kinds of creative activities with the kids.

“Maintaining a continuous product supply and coming up with sustainable innovations are still at the core of our business.”

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
Last year was our best so far. Projections for 2020 were heading in the right direction, especially in January and February, until things progressively got worse in March. Our goals for the rest of year are bleak. Even if the virus goes away, the recovery of the aviation industry will be a gradual and slow rebound. The way of life as we know it is forever changed; we just don’t know how much yet.

How prepared was your company to instate remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic? Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
Hong Kong has not faced a lockdown per se, but to ensure the welfare of our team and to respect social distancing, we extended the option of working from home two weeks ago. To remain productive, we each have defined projects and targets as well as our working hours so we know who can be reached when.

What’s one thing you would do to better prepare your business to weather a similar storm in the future?
Cash is king and if you have extra – that will hopefully get you through the worst. But we don’t know how long this crisis will last, this is the worrying part.

Some companies may have been inspired to create new product lines, or redesign existing product or services as a result of the pandemic. How is it driving innovation?
We’ve been busy working to create new products that will improve passenger and crew comfort. Maintaining a continuous product supply and coming up with sustainable innovations are still at the core of our business. We strive to have new products and concepts ready to be introduced as soon as we see an uptake in flights again.

How do you feel about your government’s response to the crisis?
Some believe our government has done a good job due to the low infection and mortality rates. However, some criticize decisions that would have been more impactful if effected sooner, such as closing borders and stopping travel between Hong Kong and China. Hong Kong has not come up with any kind of scheme to help the many thousands who are out of a job, especially in the hospitality and aviation related services. The UK, in comparison, is paying 80 percent of salaries for those who are unemployed.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
I’d like to see that we are on the mend, that the crisis has passed and airlines are taking to the skies again. But this global pandemic has profoundly changed the very essence of what is normal. People will think twice about their choices to fly to London or New York City for a meeting. They might ask, “Can this be done by conference call instead?” Wish I could tell the future on this one!

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.