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Research Reveals Economic uncertainty, cybersecurity and talent retention among top issues concerning CEOs and Boards

Heidrick & Struggles 4 mins read
Graham Kittle - Managing Partner, Heidrick & Struggles, Australia

Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

22 April, 2022

 

Economic uncertainty, cybersecurity and talent retention among top issues concerning CEOs and Boards 

 

SYDNEY, Australia - Amid a global backdrop characterised by economic fluctuations, technological advancements, and geopolitical uncertainties, Heidrick & Struggles' global research, comprising the views of 3,156 CEOs and directors (including 115 from Australia and New Zealand), unveils insight into the confidence levels and distinct apprehensions of CEOs and boards. 

 

According to the latest insights released in the Heidrick & Struggles 2024 CEO and board confidence monitor, Australian and New Zealand senior leaders differ from their global counterparts in several key areas, including their perception of their ability to manage the risks around economic uncertainty and cybersecurity.

 

Top issues organisations expect to face in 2024

 

More than half of ANZ senior management (59%) think 'economic uncertainty and volatility' is the top concern that businesses can expect in 2024, compared to 63% of their peers globally. Of those who nominated economic uncertainty and volatility as a top concern, fewer Australian and New Zealand CEOs and board members (40%) are confident in their organisation's ability to manage it in comparison to their international counterparts worldwide (42%). 

 

Cybersecurity risk was the second most commonly perceived significant problem ANZ CEOs and boards expect to face in 2024 (34%), and they seem less confident than their global counterparts in their ability to resolve the issues. Only 29% of the respondents nominating cyber security as a significant problem are very or entirely confident in their organisation's ability to manage the associated risks. The global average was quite different, with only 21% of CEOs and boards perceiving cybersecurity as a significant risk and 40% of those expressing confidence in their organisation's ability to manage those issues.

 

ANZ leaders nominated the top issues as among their organisation's "most significant issues" as: 

 

  • Economic uncertainty and volatility (59%)
  • Cybersecurity risk (34%)
  • Workforce attraction and retention (31%)
  • Building and maintaining a healthy organisational culture (30%)
  • Shifts in market dynamics (28%). 

 

Global counterparts differed in the issues they nominated as the two most significant, with the top five nominated being:

 

  • Economic uncertainty and volatility (63%)
  • Geopolitical uncertainty and volatility (39%)
  • Workforce attraction and retention (33%)
  • Shifts in market dynamics (31%)
  • Building and maintaining a healthy organisational culture (27%)

 

Cybersecurity ranked seventh, tying with 'incorporating AI' for global leaders.

 

Cybersecurity concerns: discrepancy between ANZ CEOs and boards

 

Half (50%) of ANZ board respondents stated that cybersecurity is a significant issue organisations will face in the coming year. Among those considering cybersecurity a "top 2 challenge", 35% are confident in their company's ability to manage the issue.

 

In contrast, only 27% of ANZ CEOs consider cybersecurity a significant challenge. However, less than a quarter of those (24%) feel confident in their organisation's ability to manage cybersecurity risks.

 

"Given the speed of technological advancements combined with some very high-profile instances of cybersecurity breaches in ANZ in the last 12 months, it is no surprise that boards are prioritising cybersecurity as a significant concern or that ANZ has cybersecurity higher on its list of top concerns," explains Graham Kittle, Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles Australia. “Our findings indicate there’s still room to grow for organisations where cybersecurity is concerned. This could come in the form of bringing in new CISOs or upskilling existing talent to take on cybersecurity challenges in the coming year.”

 

Other contrasting views between CEOs and boards

 

Another area ANZ boards and CEOs differ is the concern surrounding leadership turnover and succession in the coming year, where only 10% of CEOs believe it to be a significant issue, and 43% of those feel confident in their company's mitigation of that challenge. However, more than double (22%) of board members expressed concerns, of which half (50%) believe in their company's ability to manage leadership succession planning. In addition, 48% of ANZ CEOs and boards feel confident in their organisations’ ability to manage leadership development, attraction and retention in the coming year.

 

 

"The report highlights that one in two ANZ CEOs and directors are confident in their organisations’ ability to not only manage leadership continuity, but also to develop, attract and retain top talent in the coming year," continued Kittle, “Companies would do well to double down on these efforts as strong leadership teams alongside capable CEOs are crucial for a firm to navigate economic uncertainty and market volatility.”  

 

Confidence levels: Australia and New Zealand vs global

 

The survey reveals that ANZ CEOs and boards are nearly aligned with global confidence levels, either very or entirely confident in delivering their organisation's strategic plan (ANZ at 56% vs a global 59%). Similarly, 61% of ANZ and 63% of global leaders are very or entirely confident that their company's culture will support the delivery of their strategic plans for the coming year. 

 

Only 38% of ANZ leaders who nominated leadership succession and turnover as a top two issue in 2024 are confident in their company's ability to handle this challenge, compared to 42% of their global peers. 

 

Almost two-thirds (60%) of ANZ and 65% of global leaders showed high confidence in their leadership teams in 2024, but only 40% of ANZ and 49% of global CEOs and boards are very or entirely confident in their organisation's ability to attract, develop and retain executives for future success.  

 

"The survey's findings highlight the importance of adaptive leadership and strategic foresight in overcoming today's challenges and seizing tomorrow's opportunities," says Kittle. "Organisations have the opportunity to better prepare for future economic disruptions by ensuring that a clear succession plan is put in place for key leadership team members to safeguard their business growth in the years to come". 

 

View the full report here:

https://www.heidrick.com/-/media/heidrickcom/publications-and-reports/ceo-and-board-confidence-monitor_a-worried-start-to-2024.pdf

 

 

For further information, please contact:

The Hoffman Agency (www.hoffman.com)

HeidrickHub@hoffman.com


Key Facts:

Research reveals ANZ senior leaders differ from their global counterparts in their perception of the main risks to business in 2024 and in their confidence to navigate and manage those risks.


About us:

About Heidrick & Struggles

Heidrick & Struggles (Nasdaq: HSII) is a premier provider of global leadership advisory and on-demand talent solutions, serving the senior-level talent and consulting needs of the world's top organizations. In our role as trusted leadership advisors, we partner with our clients to develop future-ready leaders and organizations, bringing together our services and offerings in executive search, diversity and inclusion, leadership assessment and development, organization and team acceleration, culture shaping and on-demand, independent talent solutions. Heidrick & Struggles pioneered the profession of executive search more than 70 years ago. Today, the firm provides integrated talent and human capital solutions to help our clients change the world, one leadership team at a time. ® www.heidrick.com


Contact details:

For further information, please contact:

The Hoffman Agency (www.hoffman.com)

HeidrickHub@hoffman.com

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