We didn’t know what to expect when we launched our fDi’s Virus Diaries series. Back in March, public debate and policymaking around Covid-19 was confused and volatile (“herd immunity” anyone?).
It was hard to see past the urgency of the crisis. Covid-19 had ripped away our privileged routines – once filled with flights, handshakes and having the world within reach – and confined us to our homes, utterly reliant on our laptops.
As the economic development and investment promotion community went digital, we set out to capture the dynamics of this extraordinary shift.
We sought to provide readers with guidance from leading investment promotion agencies (IPAs) around the world, as well as encourage a sense of community at a time when the physical and psychological isolation of the crisis was taking its toll.
At the onset of the pandemic, the outlook felt so overwhelming and bleak we were not sure whether many people on the FDI frontline would open up to us. We could not have been more wrong. Not only did we end up running 29 interviews with top global IPA heads, but they were among the most candid, insightful and inspirational interviews we have ever published.
The debate around the future of investment promotion has been enriched by discussions about the need for compassion, solidarity and empathy towards employees and investors.
On a personal level, many leaders and their teams felt the psychological strain. Many struggled with having to juggle childcare and an increased workload.
On an operational level, the shift to digital has become a proof of concept (digital tools had often been overlooked in the pre-Covid world).
On a strategic level, the crisis has provided an opportunity for reassessment and adjustment to the new normal that lies ahead.
Reflection, collaboration and conversation has shown that challenges are not unique to one country or another.
Overall, fDi’s Virus Diaries have been read and shared thousands of times, and we keep receiving requests from IPAs keen to contribute.
Almost three months since the first interview we feel it’s time to switch gears and evolve the narrative. The Covid-19 emergency is not over, but crisis protocols are in place everywhere, creating room for more strategic thinking.
The investment promotion community is transitioning from a first crisis response phase to a new phase where digital aftercare and promotion is combined with the tentative site visits.
We want to mirror this change, so we have decided to phase out fDi’s Virus Diaries series and morph it into the ‘fDi Diaries’ to create a platform for IPAs to share thoughts, feelings, strategies and best practices as they seek to make the most of the post-Covid recovery.
The global slowdown, protectionism, automation and digitisation will reshape investment trends for years to come and require massive adjustment by both investors and host countries. We want to capture the contours of this adjustment, and evolve the narrative of our interviews to reflect it.
It’s been an incredible journey for all of us on a personal and professional level, and we are looking forward to moving the conversation forward. But not without once again repeating our gratitude to all the IPA leaders who opened up to us in the Virus Diaries while busily leading their organisations and families through the biggest challenge in recent history.
You can find the full archive of the fDi’s Virus Diaries series at the following link.
If you are a member of the economic development and investment promotion community and would like to be part of the next iteration of the fDi Diaries series, please reach out to fDi@ft.com.