2020. No year in recent memory has shifted our boundaries of work and life more. A global pandemic; a true black swan. Economies, governments, businesses and people have all struggled to come to terms with a healthcare calamity that has shifted every goalpost. Life, as we knew it, came to a standstill in March this year. In sum, the world economy will shrink in 2020, the Indian economy will too. The human cost, however, is massive. Whilst healthcare remains the key priority in every country, a close second is livelihoods. Estimates suggest 400 million job losses globally; India numbers are hard to estimate given the informality of employment in most sectors, but the pain has been, and remains, evident.

Eventually, a vaccine will be found – one already has – and the pandemic will be controlled. The way we live however, and even more, the way we work, has changed, and it may never be the same again. At the level of businesses, we have to be as ready for the eventual economic rebound as we are to navigate this time of risk and uncertainty on every plane – economic, human and business.

In 2020, the New Code of Work Awards were launched with the intent to identify the future of organisational design, talent development and leadership and to recognise India’s businesses that were leading change. The Awards were prescient – key trends highlighted by the inaugural edition have all accelerated in 2020. Illustratively, everything went online and millions across the world began working from home almost overnight – and continue to. Never in the history of humankind so many people have worked remotely, at the same time. Over time, some of this will shift back to the old normal but much of it will not. A deep-rooted cultural change within our organisations, teams and people is underway.

Lessons in leadership, in productivity, in building true meaning at work and being future ready when the future itself collapses at the speed of light towards you, are being relearnt. The best among us already have stories, predictions and strategies to share.


The 2021 edition of the Awards seek to highlight the future of work, of workplaces, of talent in the context of a year when everything changed dramatically, albeit in line with predictions that the 2020 Awards laid out. Now more than ever, identification of emergent best practices is crucial; more than ever, recognition of path breaking efforts in the face of insurmountable challenge is key. It has been an incredibly difficult year; but lessons learnt, and initiatives undertaken must be celebrated. Because that is the human spirit. To endeavour, to persevere, to surmount, to win.

In a bid to support talent leadership, the Awards will also expand their ambit to include closed circle leadership conversations in the run up to the Awards ceremony. That they will be virtual we can be sure of. That they can be physical, we can hope for. These will build further on the archive of knowledge that the NCOW commenced in 2020. The NCOW believes that it is through collective engagement, through true sharing of experience and opinion that collective – and therefore, individual gain, lies.

Among the many lessons that Covid-19 has taught us, a key reminder is the universality of calamity when it truly strikes. And so, the Awards will also expand their ambit across Asia beginning with Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. The Asia Awards will be hosted concurrently, best practices across countries will be shared – virtually and through extensive case studies. In the fullness of time, the New Code of Work will represent itself differently across countries but celebrating that on a common platform has value that we hope to unlock for industry leadership





Always a key strategic imperative, productivity is now in laser focus for industry leadership. Not just because bottomlines will need to be watched as demand remains uncertain, but much more because operating rhythms have changed, perhaps forever. With no fixed punch-in or punch-out hours and employees operating out of different locations, optimizing productivity in virtual workspaces will demand new thinking, also bearing in mind employee wellbeing. As the world returns to an older keel, hybrid models that will incorporate bots, socially distanced onsite workers and a phalanx of remote teams must all be managed to maximize productivity, without missing the woods for the trees. The NCOW for Productivity expects focus on the ‘how’ of this new realm. How will productivity be driven such that improvements are quantum but without strain; and long-term sustainability is woven into the pell-mell rush of daily management of a new paradigm.


Purpose and meaning. Arguably the two biggest quests for mankind in the 21st century. At work, this translates into creating brand, experience and organizational structures that respond to this fundamental need of talent the world over. 2020 has been a trial by fire on this specific paradigm. Engagement has acquired a higher meaning in a locked-down world through processes, online experiences and critically, a value system that places higher purpose and deeper meaning at the core of organizational philosophy.

The New Code of Work to drive meaning at work will aim to identify the best in class in what is truly a new normal and what it means for engagement, happiness, sustainability and inclusion.


Leadership. Eternal. Ever changing. Continued paradigms, yet new manifestations. Inspirational. Vulnerable. Collaborative. Visionary. Empathetic. Resilient.  Focused on the ‘other’ yet conscious of the impact of self. Challenged by the global pandemic, leaders have made shifts in the way they lead. How have leaders built on this unique moment in history to drive organisations by example? At the next level, what is now sought in the next generation of leaders that is being prepared and what are the most effective leadership development paradigms in play across corporations?

Which qualities best define the ‘successful’ leader, who will take us into a safer tomorrow and ensure that organisations do not just survive, but thrive? The New Code of Work for Leadership will seek to identify leadership qualities most needed today, and award businesses that reflect those best in their leadership teams. The NCOW for leadership will also reward businesses that ensure leaders are strewn across the business, individuals in their own right, but melded into a collective whole that is infinitely the better for their presence.


When the pace of change is meteoric, future readiness must be a core organizational attribute. 2020 and Covid-19 have placed this capability at the very top of stakeholder expectations. Going forward, technologies, demographics and governments will continue to accelerate this trend. Future readiness encompasses strategy, people, and organisational structures. The heart of tomorrow’s organisation, ‘readiness’ now occupies pole position. The NCOW for future readiness will seek to identify those corporations where short-term wins will naturally dovetail into long-term success on the plinth of visionary agility.



Chairperson NCOW Awards, Former Managing Director, IMA India


Founder, MD and CEO, Multiples Alternate Asset Management


MD and CEO, Diageo Global


Director, Global H.R. & CEO, Carbon Black Business at Aditya Birla Group


MD, Spotify India


Dr Ramon B. Segismundo

Board Director, Hijo Group of Companies & Founder and CEO, 1-HR.X Pte Ltd
(DBA, Class of 2020)



The India/regional business of global MNCs with a strategic presence in at least 5 countries (covering at least THREE continents) and an annual revenue exceeding USD 1 Billion.

Large Enterprises

Companies headquartered in India or an APAC country, with an annual revenue of more than 500 Million USD


Companies headquartered in India or an APAC country, that have completed minimum 3 years and maximum 8 years of business and have crossed the annual revenue mark of more than 5 M USD (minimum).

Small Enterprises

Companies headquartered in India or an APAC country, with an annual revenue between 10 – 100 M USD.

Mid Size Enterprises

Companies headquartered in India or an APAC country, with an annual revenue between 100 – 500 M USD.

Overall Winner

The Overall Winner will be selected from the nominations that provide holistic  insight into strategies on all of the above parameters. The Jury reserves the right to nominate firms from other groups into this category