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Who Are the Top-Paid CEOs?

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Who Are the Top-Paid CEOs?

CEO pay is a lightning rod issue. Many praise a high-performing executive while others cannot fathom the salary levels. The debate will certainly continue, but just who are the top-paid CEOs in the United States? 

The top-paid CEOs aren’t necessarily the ones at the helm of the largest companies. CEO pay depends on a lot of things, and sometimes negotiating leverage and timing play an outsized role in determining the agreed-upon compensation. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook was out-gained by CEOs at companies like Pinterest, Hertz, and Peloton. In fact, of the 10 highest-paid CEOs in 2022, only 4 ran companies listed in the S&P 500, the largest publicly traded companies in the United States. 

Topping the list in 2022 was Stephen Schwarzman. Mr. Schwarzman heads Blackstone, the private-equity behemoth, and netted an overall package of $253 million. Next up was Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Mr. Puchai took home $226 million, besting tech peers at Oracle and Apple. The overwhelming majority of CEO pay is restricted stock or options. As such, the value of said pay fluctuates greatly. There are also a host of performance targets with corresponding values as well as bonuses depending on the time served. 

Stephen Scherr of Hertz came in number 3 with a total pay of $182 million. Previously he was the Chief Financial Officer at Goldman Sachs Group and accepted the Hertz position in February 2022. This was a rough patch for Mr. Scherr as Hertz had recently emerged from bankruptcy-court protection. So far this year, however, Hertz shares are up 20%. 

Following Hertz is the CEO of Peloton, Barry McCarthy. He too began his tenure at Peloton in February 2022 and nearly all of his 2022 pay package ($168 million) was in stock options. Peloton went through a painful 2022 with the company’s value dropping by 79%. 

Another member of the Top 10 club is Bill Ready of Pinterest. Of his pay package of $123 million, roughly $101 million was in stock options and $21.5 million in restricted stock. By December 2022, Ready’s stock and option awards had increased to $153.6 million. 

While the company names to this point are all recognizable, CS Disco certainly is not. A 10-year-old company selling online services to law firms, this Austin, Texas-based firm is by far the smallest company in the top 10. Their CEO, Kiwi Camara, is a co-founder and took home $500,000 in salary in 2022. But it was his stock options, valued at $109 million, that placed him with the likes of Blackstone, Alphabet, and Hertz.    


drucker retail firm Is Your Future Leader Working In Your Company Now? How To Grow A CEO

Retail CEO Churn

CEOs in the retail sector are turning over once again. The pandemic served as a pause button for many Boards that had CEO succession plans already defined. Yet, the pandemic also revealed some new tools that retail CEOs will need moving forward – mainly the understanding of data and technology related to online shopping.

Traditionally retail CEOs arrived at their positions either because they understood (and could predict) styles and trends, and/or were very good at managing the systems necessary to keep stores running efficiently. CEO turnover in S&P 500 companies fell in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic was unnerving and most companies did not wish to add another level of uncertainty with CEO vacancies. But as of July, the annualized succession for CEOs went from 9.6% in 2021 to 11.6% in 2022 (in the Russell 3000 index). 

CEOs of S&P 500 companies typically last 6.4 years. Retailing during the pandemic has put them to the test. The entire retail sector is under immense pressure to operate faster, innovate, and also pay greater attention to social, governance, and environmental issues. What was necessary and desirable to run a major retailer in 2010 has changed dramatically. Recently, major companies like Dollar General, Home Depot, Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond, Under Armour, and The RealReal have made changes to their top men and women. 

Gap went through hard times with its Old Navy chain. An overstock of very small and overly large sizes left the retailer with a serious stock issue. Shares of the retailer are down 55% this year. Bed Bath & Beyond made a risky move to “declutter” stores which had the opposite effect on shoppers. Customers were looking for more offerings, not less, especially in a world where anything imaginable can be purchased on our smartphones. The RealReal had made the transition from a startup to an established company, but running an established retailer takes different skills than that of leading an initial public offering. 

Curiously enough, even CEOs who had performed well are cycling out at a quicker rate. Former CEO Craig Menear of Home Depot indicated he’d be stepping aside despite sales having boomed during the pandemic. Folks were clamoring for supplies to spruce up their homes and Home Depot, Lowe’s, and similar retailers cashed in. Another long-time CEO, Todd Vasos of Dollar General, was replaced in July. Over Vasos’s tenure, the company grew annual sales revenue by roughly 80% and 7,000 new Dollar General locations were opened.  

Despite the positive performance of some, consulting firms like Customer Growth Partners point to Boards requesting CEO candidates with a much broader set of skills compared to those a decade ago. What those translate to will shift company to company, but it’s a mix of understanding and adapting to digitalized platforms while not neglecting face-to-face shoppers. The retail sector is going through some seismic shifts. The good ones are adapting with a quick and pleasant online shopping experience and ensuring traditional brick-and-mortar stores are stocked and ready for those who want to get back to the traditional form of consumerism. 

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How Some CEOs and Boards are Retaining Rotating CFOs

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) turnover is growing. For CEOs and Boards, this is a troublesome trend. Once considered just another member of the executive team, today CFOs are without a doubt some of the most valuable employees of a firm. A good CFO brings a forward-looking strategy, advanced modeling, high-level financial experience, and can also exert strong leadership skills, especially in the absence of the CEO or COO (Chief Operating Officer). 

It is unclear as to why exactly CFOs are churning through at increased rates. In 2019, 14% of CFOs turned over in S&P 500 companies. In 2020 the percentage bumped slightly to 15% and then rose again to 18% by 2021. At nearly 20%, that means one in five CEOs will see their CFO work less than five years at their place of business. Such quick turnover is pricy, especially for a position that is so integral to the firm.  

Spencer Stuart is a global recruitment agency. They’ve had some success in reducing CFO churn by encouraging companies to broaden the CFO’s responsibilities. While this might sound counter-intuitive (more work?), CFOs typically are below CEOs and COOs when it comes to the command chain. Notable firms such as AbbVie, Newell Brands, and Walker & Dunlop have gone as far as “re-titling” their CFOs as Presidents. Others have simply promoted the CFO to the COO role. Re-titling is not without its drawbacks. Spencer Stuart cautions that a move as drastic (from a vocabulary perspective) must be well-explained and well-timed by the Board. 

As of June 29th, the executive search firm Russell Reynolds reported that 6% of CFOs in S&P 500 companies had additional presidential or operational responsibilities added to their plate. Compare this with only 1.4% of CFOs with additional responsibilities in 2020 and it’s clear a shift is occurring. 

The average stay for CFOs (five years) has not changed much in recent years. What has changed is the number of CFOs exiting before the five-year mark. Added responsibilities, however, are not free. A CFO at Newell Brands, manufacturers of Elmer’s glue, Sharpie, and Rubbermaid bumped their CFO’s salary by $65,000 after accepting the additional responsibilities. At $900,000 per year, Newell has found it’s enough for him not to get poached by headhunters, the shared concern of any company. 

A potential recession will put major pressure on retaining CFOs. Only 8% of CEOs at S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies came from the CFO seat in 2021. But that percentage is growing. A well-compensated and secure CFO is yet another hedge against departing CEOs if the person has the skills necessary to lead the firm.  




guide hire

CEOs are Shifting Quickly to Retention 

A company’s most valuable resource is its people. It’s an overused statement, but likely so because it’s true. Few CEOs would argue against recruiting top talent. Yet, not all top talent is a good fit. The key for human resource departments and recruiters is to find the top talent that matches the company’s needs and culture. Not every hire is a win, but that is certainly the goal. 

When a company misses on a hire, there are associated costs. The recruitment, onboarding, and actual salary paid to that person are money down the proverbial drain. The process begins again with the hopes that the same mistake is avoided. With a tight US labor market employers are having to do their best to retain new hires. The 90-day rule is something being discussed in multiple industries. In summary – hold on to an employee for three months (90-days) and that hire is likely to remain over the long term.

Everyone from Wendy’s to Carrier Global Corp, CVS Health to the video software company Qumu is focusing intently on training and new programs to prevent new employees from quitting during those critical first months. The previously mentioned Carrier Global Corp has put together a buddy program where new hires are paired up with more senior employees in their manufacturing facilities. At CVS Health warehouse workers are provided a $1,000 bonus if they remain for three months. Fast-food chains like Wendy’s and Chipotle have found that clear and consistent scheduling (as opposed to last-minute weekly shift changes) has dramatically improved retention.

Most human resource executives believe that 90 days is the time when employees begin to prove themselves. The San Francisco-based software company, Intercom, put in place a novel program called the “listening tour.” New hires, regardless of their level, are requested to embark on a listening tour of the company to understand as much as possible the operations and what their colleagues do. For executives, this can stretch to six weeks while more entry-level hires typically spend two weeks. The company compares this to an extended interview process where the new hire gets a chance to gauge if Intercom is the right place for them.

TAT Limco is an aerospace manufacturing company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After seeing new hires leaving for simple pay grades (a dollar or two more per hour), TAT hired an onboarding coordinator to manage new hire entries. More contact points between employees and their colleagues and supervisors were established and turnover was halved from 37% in January to 16% in June. 

The labor market is expected to continue tightening over the coming months. Finding enough workers (and keeping them) is a strategic shift that will pay dividends beyond simply three months. 






It is hard to believe that it’s been an entire year since our previous annual Women in Logistics spotlight. As the industry continues to break boundaries in resiliency and innovation, what better way to honor the leading ladies behind the companies that not only made it through the pandemic but who continue to grow and redefine greatness in operations, company culture, and transformation? 

Here are our top 10 picks for this year’s Women in Logistics and why they made our special list:

1. Sandra McQuain
Executive Director
England Economic & Industrial Development District 

Topping the list is the first female leader in England Economic & Industrial Development District’s 25-year history. Sandra, who first joined the “England Airpark” in 2018, is also the only female to manage one of the seven commercial airports in the state of Louisiana.

England Airpark is a 3,600-acre economic and industrial development district serving as a home to a Part 139 Commercial Airport (AEX), a staging base for military training and transfer operations, manufacturing, and warehouse facilities, and more. 

Sandra’s primary focus is to provide critical strategic, financial and operational leadership that is driven by more than 25 years of experience working with businesses, government agencies and elected officials. 

Beyond England Airpark, Sandra was appointed by Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards and Secretary of Transportation and Development Shawn Wilson to serve as a member of the Resilient Louisiana Commission’s Transportation and Infrastructure Task Force. She also serves on the Transportation Policy Committee and Beltway Committee for the Rapides (Parish) Area Planning Commission and is also a Board Member of Fort Polk Progress. 

Additionally, Sandra works closely with the MORE Initiative of the Association for the Improvement of America’s Infrastructure (AIAI), which recruits women for the transportation and logistics industries.

2. Deidre “Dee” Cusack
Senior Vice President of Global Products and Solutions

According to her colleagues, Dee is a prime example of a natural-born leader who challenges her team of more than 1,200 to think differently and push boundaries for greatness. 

Dee currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Global Products and Solutions at Dematic, a STEM-focused company that has undergone significant growth and transformation thanks to her leadership and strategic commitment to innovation. 

She was appointed top her SVP role mid-pandemic, and yet her company successfully released 18 new products in strategic areas, increased Build with Standards orders by more than $300 million and generated more than 200 new patents.

As if this was not enough, Dee holds recognition for the following awards:

– CEO Award for International Trade, given by Joe Hogan, the former CEO at ABB 

– 7-time winner of the Customer Focus Award, granted by Roger Bailey, President of Power Products at ABB 

– CEO Award for Collaboration, given by Hasan Dandashly, CEO at Dematic 

Speaking of awards, Dee was awarded the largest customer purchase order in history at Ametek Aerospace and five U.S. and international patents.


3. Alexi Cashen
Co-Founder and CEO
Elenteny Imports 

Alexi is known for seeking out leadership rather than waiting for it to find her. This approach has served her well throughout her career as an entrepreneur, even amid the 2010 financial crisis. 

It was after Alexi moved to New York City from a small town in Colorado that she partnered with Tim Elenteny and co-founded Elenteny Imports, an alcohol logistics company. Since its launch, Elenteny represents more than 1 million cases annually and works with over 400 global clients while supporting alcohol brands as they navigate the U.S. three-tier system.

It would only make sense that given her history in thriving during a crisis that she would expand her professional horizons in 2020. Elenteny launched their Less than Container Load (LCL) route into Seattle during the global pandemic. 

Furthermore, Alexi started a mentoring-focused podcast just for entrepreneurs in the sparkling spiked beverage industry in 2020 as well.

4. Hima Bindu Challa

Hima was born and raised in India, where she completed her Master’s in Computer Applications and began her career. Fast forward to 2009 and she officially pivoted her career focus to the logistics and supply chain industry in the United States, where she would remain for the next 10 years. 

Hima then moved to Germany, where she co-founded limbiq with the sole intention of providing a simple and complete solution to supply chain partners. 

She and her team focused on SMEs as their first target group.  

“We felt that SMEs are the ones with the biggest problems in collaborating with different partners because of their size,” she explains. “We eventually learned that irrespective of size, it’s a problem everywhere.” 

5. Gerri Commodore
Senior Vice President of New Business Implementation
GEODIS Americas

Gerri’s success goes well beyond the numbers and global impact of GEODIS, which ranks among the top supply chain operators in Europe and the world. Her accomplishments have been achieved during more than 20 years in the industry, from operations management, inventory and omnichannel fulfillment strategies to warehouse management systems and supply chain optimization. 

Her current role supports the successful integration of new clients for the company’s North Americans and South American networks–critical to ensuring operations are launched in a timely manner and within budget, according to client goals. 

She is the driving force behind GEODIS’ Women’s Network–focusing on recruiting, retaining and growing female professionals while continuing to improve the industry’s gender balance. Since becoming the network’s chairperson, membership has grown by more than 500 percent—pandemic and all.

Additionally, Gerri was part of the team that was responsible for growing GEODIS’ worldwide female leadership roles from 13% in 2017 to 18% and has pledged to reach 25% by 2023.

6. Darlene Wolf
Senior Vice President, Strategic Partners
Arrive Logistics 

Darlene focuses on utilizing her expertise and experience to support partners from managing network relationships to navigating business challenges with shippers at the top of mind. 

Part of what makes Darlene’s role so impactful is the level of accountability she holds for herself and for her team. Whatever a shipper needs, her team is standing by to deliver successful and smooth operations. 

“I’m so honored to be spotlighted as a distinguished woman in the logistics industry,” Darlene says. “When our industry faces disruptions or challenges, I pride myself on being a leader who consistently promotes innovative solutions.”

7. Cheryl Emery
Director of Field Resources
Penske Logistics 

Cheryl brings more than 30 years of experience to the logistics sector. Prior to her role as an HR director for the company, she took charge as an operator for the business. 

Her time as an operator further supports her current role in talent management, performance, recruiting and retention. 

Cheryl’s skills as an HR business partner goes beyond supporting the growth of Penske’s business as she is now designing policies and procedures focused on operator needs. In doing this, operator needs are clearly outlined so workers know exactly what it takes for policy implementation while meeting the needs of the business. 

8. Yamini Vellore
Chief Information Officer
Blume Global

Yamini’s 30-year career started off strong with Manhattan Associates, where she focused on developing solutions as the VP of Global Research and Development. Fast forward to 2010, and she joined the Hewlett-Packard team in developing and maintaining global IT architecture. 

She did not stop there as she continues breaking barriers for females in the logistics and technology sectors as CIO at Blume Global, where her primary focus is on infrastructure architecture and DevOps.

Yamini strives to ensure Blume’s solutions are available 24x7x365 to a global customer base. Her leadership role redefines standards in diverse hiring practices. 

Blume’s use of Google Cloud Platform services and customer transition heavily rely on expertise that Yamini’s colleagues have cited as “instrumental” to the company’s architecture. 

9. Elise Le
Head of Customer Experience

For ClearMetal’s Fortune 1000 customer base, complex supply chains are a given. When it comes to making sure customers have the best experience regardless of their supply chain complexities, ClearMetal calls on Elise.

Known as a distinguished professional in the logistics field, Elisa is cited by colleagues as possessing exceptional skills, high credibility and ongoing persistence in maintaining customer expectations–something that she seems to accomplish with ease.

“Her work distinguishes her in logistics not only as a woman but as an individual,” says one ClearMetal colleague.

The increase in efficiency, growth, and success for ClearMetal is the overarching theme for initiatives spearheaded by Elise and include Repeatable & Scalable Engine, Value Framework, Deployment Efficiency, Upsell Ratio and Revenue, and Employee Development Process. 

10. Elizabeth Kauchak
Chief Operating Officer
Dermody Properties

Elizabeth has been involved in industrial real estate for more than 20 years. During this time, she has worked with countless companies in fulfilling their supply chain and logistics needs. 

Prior to joining Dermody Properties, she was the Market Leader in Northern California for Prologis. 

She has a wealth of knowledge that she has always been happy to share. This goes for both the people she works alongside and especially to her customers. She has fostered a spirit of diversity and inclusion since joining Dermody Properties.


New Survey Reveals Impact of COVID and Remote Work on Employees

Organizations have made significant changes to enable working from home – but what has it meant for employees, and specifically their expense claims?

New data released by AppZen, the leading AI solution for modern finance teams, reveals how the pandemic and remote work have impacted company expense reports.

CEO Anant Kale provides insights into the findings and how companies should take note when it comes to how to handle employee expenses moving forward.

Why did AppZen do the survey and what were the primary findings?

We surveyed 1,000 workers of companies with at least 250 employees, to gain insight into how companies have adapted new expense policies and how those changes have impacted employees.

AppZen’s research shows the drastic shift from office to home working and the importance of clearly stated policies. 17% worked remotely prior to COVID, spiking to 83% during the pandemic.

We also found 75% of employees submitted work from home expenses during the pandemic versus 69% of employees who submitted expenses pre-COVID.

The findings also shed light on the importance of clear policies. 83% of employees who received an updated policy said their employer fairly compensates them for work from home-related expenses compared to only 29% of employees at companies where the policy was not updated due to COVID.

What are employees submitting expenses for?

Our findings show claims for internet usage at home rose 6% and 46% of companies are reimbursing their employees for internet during COVID.

While the pandemic has led to different kinds of expenses for workers, only 29% of employees feel they are fairly compensated for these new types of work from home expenses – such as childcare. And what’s more, only 26% say they feel uncomfortable about actually claiming these types of expenses.

How do gender and position play a role in expense reports and company reimbursements?

AppZen’s data shows differences among executives and non-executives in the expense report process and a gender divide.

Women are less likely (59%) than men (80%) to feel fairly reimbursed for work from home-related expenses.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the C-suite and company executives are more likely to have company credit cards and expense accounts while the majority of employees are reimbursed for work-related expenses paid for with their own money.

The COVID lockdown had a disproportionate effect on the shift to work from home on specific jobs and roles. 42% of business owners/business partners and 37% of sales managers worked from home prior to the COVID lockdown.

What can companies learn from this survey?

Our research has highlighted some of the challenges faced by organizations during the COVID pandemic. Most have resulted from a lack of action or, to be more precise, a lack of proactive steps to adapt to the changing situation. Here are 3 recommendations for organizations; to re-engage with their workforce, and to build a modern, repeatable structure for managing expenses and change moving forward.

Embrace work from home expenses

Expense types have changed. Employees are not claiming classic travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses – but are claiming new types of work from home-related expenses. These include one-off items such as office chairs, external monitors, and desks; subscription costs such as internet usage; and COVID-specific items like hand-sanitizer and face masks.

Organizations need to adapt their expense policies quickly to embrace this changing environment. The new policies need to be clear, fair and configured in a software system that can apply them the second they are activated.

Ongoing review and adaptation of policies 

Crises come and go but what we have learned from COVID is that the ability to adapt and roll out new policies quickly and dynamically is the cornerstone of resiliency.

Best practice organizations will utilize their AI-enabled expense management platforms to automatically identify trends and changes in expense behavior – but all enterprises should create adaptive policy frameworks to ensure policies receive regular reviews.

With new policies in place, the organization should proactively communicate the changes and why the changes have been made. The first time such as significant change is made, the communication should be as visible and personal as possible – webinars or video meetings are Ideal in this situation.

But communication should not stop after the initial flurry of activity. Reinforcement of the new policy rules and regulations is an essential tool for ensuring maximum understanding and compliance.

Listen to employee concerns

We see several unexpected nuances in the research. From a perception that senior executives are getting preferential treatment, to women feeling less well compensated for work from home expenses, these nuances can only be truly understood by talking to staff.

CFOs understand the cost of perpetuating harmful industry and societal practices. This can cost the company valuable employees and put the company at risk of blowback. Through analytics and rapid adaptability, finance leaders are equipped to change these practices and therefore the overall health of the business.

In addition, organizations should create a regular cadence for feedback from staff. This ongoing dialogue should be at least quarterly and involve both the finance team and leaders from within the business. By actively eliciting details of employee concerns, the organization can continually develop and refine policies that fairly compensate employees for out-of-pocket expenses.


For more information, recommendations, and a look at the full report, visit:

women CEOs

Why Aren’t More CEOs Women? 4 Ways Corporations Can Clear The Path.

While more women are rising to the top of the corporate ladder, a question persists: Why do female  CEOs still comprise a small percentage of the highest leadership positions?
Research underscores women’s capabilities as corporate leaders and their positive effects on organizations. An extensive worldwide survey showed that having women at the C-suite level significantly increases profit margins. And a study by the Harvard Business Review reported women scoring higher than men in most leadership skills.
But research also partly sheds light on why women aren’t proportionately represented in corporate leadership roles. Reasons include male-dominated corporate boards and leadership stereotypes. Not to mention that women, in addition to having the bulk of at-home family responsibilities, can be seen as threatening to men when in leadership positions.
How can more women ascend to executive positions? Andreas Wilderer, author of Lean On: The Five Pillars Of Support For Women In Leadership, says it starts at home with a supportive husband willing to take on more of a household role while not worrying about reverse stereotypes – the stay-at-home dad or secondary breadwinner.
“Even though society is getting used to strong women in the workplace, men who take care of the house and kids are still often seen as an oddity,” Wilderer says. “Old attitudes in society fade slowly, as many still believe that each sex should keep its place.”
“In many families, however, that place is changing. Change tends to begin not in the big arenas, but in small places. And change starts within the family unit – long before many corporations and institutions recognize what is happening. Now more and more men are proudly accepting the role of staying home to fully support their wives and their career pursuits, and it’s time more companies were supportive of women in well-earned leadership roles.”
Wilderer suggests four ways companies can make leadership opportunities more accessible to women:
-Gender equality training. “With evidence proving that women make excellent leaders,” Wilderer says, “it is clear that not having these qualified individuals in leadership positions is a detriment to your business. Gender equality training within a company is a transformative process that enables women to be assessed on the basis of their skills, not restricted from upward movement by their gender.”
-Gender equality training 2.0. Wilderer says normal bias training needs to go an extra step, emphasizing how companies can show support for male partners and the family of the female leader. For example, when companies sponsor events such as dinners for employees, they often buy gifts for spouses attending. Wilderer says an important cultural shift can occur in the form of a gift. “It’s a cultural shift to not assume that the spouse of a leader is a female,” Wilderer says. “You can no longer make that assumption. Companies should make the gifts gender-neutral, emphasizing the importance of the supportive spousal role.”
-Recruiting. A company’s commitment to promote women’s advancements from within starts in the recruiting process. “Recruiting women on the premises of equal opportunity provisions is the first step to help women rise to important positions,” Wilderer says. “Organizations should issue meaningful equality plans to absorb women members in proportion to men.”
-Career-mapping. “Organizations should have an effective career-mapping plan in place for female employees,” Wilderer says. “Being aware of higher-level opportunities within the organization and the path required to achieve them helps women to set out clearer plans for attaining these roles.”
“Ingrained attitudes take years to evolve into acceptance,” Wilderer says. “Acceptance starts with simple gestures like the gifts but has to go much further – flexible hours, provided daycare, a partial home office. As far as women have come in the corporate structure, there are still too many barriers, and too few of them get to fulfill their potential as leaders.”
Andreas Wilderer ( is the author of Lean On: The Five Pillars Of Support For Women in Leadership. A business leader and entrepreneur, Wilderer worked in the event and marketing field. As Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths Coach he founded GLOBULARiTY LLC, a business coaching company that helps leaders grow and learn how to strengthen their Adaptability Quotient (AQ). While working on his business pursuits, Wilderer stayed at home and cared for his two children while his wife pursued her career. Recognizing that women can be providers and men can be nurturers, Wilderer began focusing on coaching female leaders while teaching men how to actively support them. As a motivational Keynote speaker, he is advocating for females in leadership and the system they can Lean On.

Survey: Business Leaders Start 2020 with Lingering Concerns About Talent Shortages & Recession Risk

A new survey reveals that the world’s chief executives view the risk of a recession as their biggest external concern in 2020. Attracting and retaining talent ranks as their top internal concern. They also feel unsettled by trade uncertainty, political instability, and more intense competition from disruptive technologies. However,
they plan to counter such forces by developing more innovative cultures and new business models.

Conducted annually since 1999 by The Conference Board, this year’s survey gauged nearly 750 CEOs and nearly 800 other C-Suite executives from mainly four regions: Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the United States. As part of the survey, participants weighed in on which external and internal issues warrant the most immediate attention in 2020.

External Concerns in 2020

Recession fears top the list

Global: For the 2nd year in a row, CEOs and other C-Suite executives globally rank a recession as their top external worry
in the year ahead.

US: For US CEOs, a recession rose from being their 3rd biggest concern in 2019 to their top one in 2020. The issue surpassed cybersecurity, their top concern in 2019.

Elsewhere: A recession also tops the list of concerns of Chinese and European CEOs, and is the runner-up for Latin American and Japanese CEOs.

Widespread concern over trade uncertainty

Global: CEOs globally rank uncertainty about global trade as their 2nd biggest external worry in 2020.

US: It ranks as the 4th biggest worry of US CEOs, tied with its affiliate issue: global political instability.

China: Chinese CEOs rank trade uncertainty as their top worry, tied with their fear of a recession.

Latin America and Europe: CEOs there rank it 1st and 3rd, respectively.

Chinese CEOs feeling the effects of economic sanctions

China: Chinese CEOs rank the effects of economic sanctions as their 5th biggest external worry, tied with the issue of more demanding customers. Their concern about sanctions is the highest-ranking by any country by a big margin.

What it reveals about US-China trade tensions: The role technology plays in this conflict is deep and enduring. Tariffs are likely to be temporary and easily subject to negotiation, but technology blockades, via economic sanctions, are not.

Competition intensifies

Global: For CEOs globally, fiercer competition rose from being their 4th top external worry in 2019 to their 3rd in 2020.

US: For two years in a row, US CEOs cite the issue as their 2nd top external worry.

China: For Chinese CEOs, concerns about fiercer competition rose from being their 7th in 2019 to their 3rd in 2020.

Cybersecurity budgets increase, but strategy remains elusive

Bigger budgets: More than 70% of responding CEOs globally plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets in 2020.

But unclear strategy: Almost 40% of responding CEOs globally say their organizations lack a clear strategy to deal with the financial and reputational impact of a cyber-attack or data breach.

Climate change heats up

Global: For 2020, CEOs globally ranked the impact of climate change on their business as 9th, up from 11th in 2019.

Driving the momentum: CEOs in Latin America (4th, up from 10th in 2019) and Europe (8th, up from 13th in 2019).

“The ongoing concerns about recession risk among business leaders reflect the slowing economy of the past year and the uncertainties about the outcome of the trade disputes and other policy concerns,” said Bart van Ark, Chief Economist at The Conference Board. “However, given a slightly better outlook for the global economy and an easing of trade tensions, we anticipate that a drumbeat of negative sentiment – which can become a self-fulling prophecy – can be avoided, and that we  will see more confidence about business prospects in 2020.”

Internal Concerns in 2020

The number-one priority: attracting and retaining top talent

-Widespread agreement: Regardless of a company’s location or size, attracting and retaining top talent ranks as the number-one internal stressor for CEOs and other C-Suite executives globally in 2020.

-What’s intensifying the talent battle? A tight labor market, among other issues. CEOs globally, for example, cite the tight labor market as their 5th biggest external worry in the year ahead.

Developing innovative products and cultures are a key focus

Create new business models because of disruptive technologies: CEOs and other C-suite executives globally rank it their 2nd top internal priority.

Create a more innovative culture: CEOs and other C-Suite executives globally rank it their 3rd top internal priority.

Widespread commitment to cultivating leaders for the future

Global: CEOs and other C-Suite executives globally rank developing “next-gen” leaders as their 4th top internal priority.

Japan: Japanese CEOs rank this issue as their number-one internal priority, ahead of all other internal issues.

Women C-Suite executives more concerned about equal pay for equal work

Women: Globally, implementing equal pay for equal work ranked as their 6th top internal priority.

Men: Globally, the issue ranked as their 15th top internal priority.

“The global challenge in acquiring and retaining talent requires companies to be more strategic – knowing not only what qualities and skills to recruit for, but also how to recruit more efficiently and effectively,” said Rebecca Lea Ray, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “To support such efforts, they can consider leveraging artificial intelligence, a valuable tool when used with the proper understanding and safeguards.”

Mature-Market CEOs vs Emerging-Market CEOs

The survey results reveal much agreement between CEOs in mature economies (436 respondents) and emerging markets (304 respondents). But, some stark differences exist when it comes to which issues they plan to prioritize in 2020.

3 External Differences

Tight labor market
-Mature-market CEOs rank the issue as their 3rd biggest external concern. Emerging-market CEOs rank it 10th.

Uncertainty about global trade
-Emerging-market CEOs rank the issue as their number-one external concern. Mature-market CEOs rank it 4th.

Declining trust in political and policy institutions
-Emerging-market CEOs rank the issue as their 5th top external concern. Mature-market CEOs rank it 8th.

3 Internal Differences

Create new business models because of disruptive technologies
-Emerging-market CEOs rank the issue as their 2nd top internal priority. Mature-market CEOs rank it 4th.

Manage mergers and acquisitions
-Mature-market CEOs rank the issue as their 7th top internal priority. Emerging-market CEOs rank it 12th.

Build a more inclusive culture
-Mature-market CEOs rank the issue as their 8th top internal priority. Emerging-market CEOs rank it 16th.

“When it comes to creating new business models because of disruptive technologies, there is more urgency among  emerging-market CEOs than those in more mature economies,” said Chuck Mitchell, Executive Director of Knowledge,  Content, and Quality at The Conference Board. “This should raise a warning flag about possible complacency considering the current speed of disruption. The truth is that, today, companies no longer enjoy the luxury of a decades-long lead time to adapt to the digital revolution.”


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Republished with permission