Tough at the top for CEOs

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Tough at the top for CEOs

PricewaterhouseCoopers catches up with a select group of CEOs and asked them to review their roles over the last decade.

Chief executives shoulder a heavy burden, as they are expected to take on the roles of guide, interpreter and visionary, according to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global CEO Survey, the firm caught up with a select group of CEOs and asked them to review the last decade of surveys and draw some lessons for today and tomorrow.

Key actions raised from the panel included advising CEOs to capture data from every source; draw on the knowledge of their front-line staff and get it fresh to the boardroom table; dedicate specific resources to the analysis of internal and external data sources; rethink their decision-making processes – and question whether they are keeping up with pace of change in the industry; and encourage a culture which accepts change as inevitable and which offers incentives to the ‘risk-takers’.

Alexander Bulygin, CEO of RUSAL, said: “To forecast accurately is without doubt the critical skill of a manager and a key determinant of career success.”

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, said: “To have a world view and to lead your organisation accordingly makes a massive difference between those companies that can navigate uncertainty successfully and those who won’t”.

Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical Company describes how he typically contacts three or four people whom he calls “wise men”.

“I think all of us have, in our lives, go-to people like them [wise men]. Frankly, I think CEOs need them desperately, because it’s a very lonely job,” added Liveris.

Paul Jacobs, CEO of QUALCOMM, said: “You need to have people feel comfortable that they can work as hard as they can on a project and know that if it’s not successful, they’re not going to lose their job”.
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