IR in Times of Crisis

Summary: IR in Times of Crisis

IRC Domain 1: IR Strategy Formulation


Ashish Kohli, CFA, Global Head of Investor Relations, Chipotle Mexican Grill

Noel Ryan III, IRC, Senior Partner, Head of the IR Practice, Vallum Advisors

Lynn Antipas Tyson, Executive Director, Investor Relations, Ford Motor Co.

Moderator: Peter Verrengia, President and Senior Partner, FleishmanHillard

  • Ashish Kohli of Chipotle summarized the views of all the panelists: “The value of IR is greatest in a crisis.” IR officers (IROs) know the key issues on the minds of investors and must relay those internally to shape and refine the narrative. Kohli said investors focus on “how you are weathering the storm,” responding to current business trends and managing liquidity, so IROs must remain accessible, responsive and transparent. IR is part of the functional crisis team that met once or twice a day, seven days a week at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to shape Chipotle’s response, and still meets regularly as the pandemic evolves.
  • Lynn Tyson of Ford defined IR as “a full-body contact sport,” especially during a crisis. Ford’s crisis response to COVID-19 is being shaped by its disparate impact at various manufacturing locations, its effect on the employee base, and the global macroeconomic and political environment. Ford’s crisis team synthesizes this and other data and gauges risk. On that team, IR plays a critical role by “acting as the glue” to keep the organization connected, avoiding blind spots and helping the team avoid the common tendency to divide into silos.
  • Noel Ryan of Vallum Advisors emphasized that the C-suite relies on IR to understand the implications of a given decision during a crisis and to quantify value at risk. In a previous role as an in-house IRO, he volunteered for projects and “embedded” himself in operations to build internal access and credibility while creating an early warning system for potential crises. For example, he would regularly survey plant managers and division heads, which uncovered potential regulatory concerns and other issues.