6 min

Hady Nassif CEO Saint-Gobain EMME


An unprecedented year that taught us much and tested our SOLIDARITY & AGILITY.

As our planet faces an unparalleled worldwide pandemic, we have all changed and adapted our daily routines and ways of working. It is time to look back and acknowledge that, despite all its challenges, 2020 was a year in which we have learned a lot.

In this article, I will present my key learnings from this unusual year; the positive impact of Solidarity, the precious value of Life and the limitless power of Trust in each other.

The positive impact of Solidarity

Solidarity represents the unity of feelings and action among individuals to achieve a common interest. This feature of collective engagement has been expressed in the various initiatives to fight the pandemic; adopting barrier measures in our daily life and engaging in self-discipline during confinement and lock-down periods. Communities that stood in Solidarity in critical situations have been able to limit the damages of the virus and protect their societies from extreme waves of infection.

On the professional level, aligning and mobilizing operating teams, on the frontlines and back-up support, became the priority for every business leader. Across the globe, many organizations have been able to continue serving their customers (internal and external) through innovative means while achieving record high levels of productivity and performance thanks to their collective commitment.

The acceleration of the use of digital and connectivity tools has helped all stakeholders stay in touch. Every day, they were able to hear and see that they are not alone and that their colleagues are standing by them.

But the most remarkable forms of Solidarity I have witnessed, was in the aftermath of the explosion of Beirut port in August of 2020. At that moment, it became obvious that an exceptional positive impact was emerging. Messages of support came from our colleagues and friends from across the world. Donations in kind that were received from our mother company Saint-Gobain and the presence of our Chairman on the field brought a great boost of support to all the teams.


Meanwhile, thousands of young volunteers rushed to the streets to remove the shattered glass and rubble and they instantly offered their time and efforts as benevolent construction workers. This has helped the city to start rising again.

However, the most touching act was one of an old lady that started preparing, in her torn-down kitchen, hot meals for the volunteers that were repairing the roofs and windows in her neighborhood.

The precious value of Life

For many years, we have all been focusing on our various routines and materialistic aspects of our daily lives and suddenly we realized that Life itself can be vulnerable, that it has a precious value that we need to preserve. The world was facing an unknown disease, and we started seeing human suffering and massive loss of lives in many countries. Within days and even hours, you can find yourself struggling to find a hospital bed, basic medical attendance and even worse fighting for their next breath. In that sense, all humans became equally helpless irrespective of their race, gender, nationality or wealth. They were all concerned with protecting their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Life became more precious to every one of us and to the people around us.

Professional life has also changed profoundly along with changes in work-life balance. People started working remotely from their homes (living rooms, dining rooms or kitchens) while others left the urban life and moved to their second residence in the rural, sea or countryside. Back to a simple life but where Wi-Fi becomes a basic need to stay connected to the workplace and to the world.

tomato-1On the other hand, our planet had the opportunity to breathe and renew its skin. As big cities stopped emitting heavy fumes for weeks, Life has shown us that our planet can heal itself. People started planting flowers and edible produce in their backyards or on their balconies. They were in connection with nature in a different manner and they started realizing that day after day.

In one of its meanings, Life is defined in the capacity of organic matter (human, animal and vegetal) for growth and continual change. A stronger connection of humans to nature will bring a better future for humanity and our planet.

The limitless power of Trust in each other

In a changing world where people don’t get the chance to move freely or to travel and meet others face to face, they have to rely on the ability of someone else to get things done in a reliable manner, according to expectations. This is one of the practical ways to describe Trust. Throughout the past months, Trust has revealed its limitless power towards progress and reaching targets through people, networks and organizations linked together.

Basic economic exchanges have been transformed enormously; from conventional retail and service transactions to e-commerce and web-services.  This means that every consumer is Trusting a supplier, a logistics or service provider as well as payment gateways to have her/his goods delivered at the doorstep. This act of Trust is repeated and reinforced every hour of the day, for small grocery shopping and for larger purchases made online.  It is a major revolution in the retail, service, transport and manufacturing industries. Today, none of the big brands, chains or even malls can imagine their future without access to their customers through online platforms and marketplaces.


From our organizational and people’s perspective, we have seen amazing new talents that have shown their high potential to serve and grow while displaying exemplary engagement and delivering unique results. Times of crisis do accelerate the development and maturity of collaborators especially the younger ones as they blossom and unveil their ability to grow their careers and contribute to the progress of their company. Once empowered, those talents can impress their managers and also their customers.



As to medical staff and health workers, they have taught us lessons of dedication to their mission and devotion to the people to whom they are bringing emergency and medical care. By depriving themselves from their personal freedom and personal lives, they have gained the Trust of their patients and their communities. This is another proof that, at times of distress, what keeps us going is the Trust people put in each other. This phenomenon of Trust has limitless power now and in the future.


Although the crisis is far from being over, we find ourselves today more prepared to face it. Relying on the collective experience gained during last year, and the lessons learned, we can now look to the future.


A future of TrustSolidarity for a better Life across the whole planet…   

Hady Nassif – Jan ‘21