CEO Outlook - The growth imperative

The growth imperative

After years of focusing on cost reductions and risk aversion, the CEO growth agenda has made a dramatic shift. Global CEOs are taking more aggressive growth approaches, coupled with a renewed focus on growth as a part of their broader business strategies. In fact, when it comes to the top five strategic priorities for CEOs over the next 3 years, growth is a significant factor in every single one.

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Growth has become an imperative for global CEOs following years of risk aversion and a significant focus on cost-management and cost reductions. While operational efficiencies are still very high on the CEO agenda, over 50 percent of CEOs believe that growth is more important to their company’s overall well-being over the next 3 years. And not just any growth: aggressive growth. Comparatively, 37 percent of global CEOs believe their overall growth strategy is very aggressive, while an additional 52 percent say their approach is moderately aggressive.

When it comes to the top strategic priorities and challenges of CEOs, growth plays a factor in every single one – from ensuring greater speed to market to strengthening a brand and becoming more data driven.

Geographic expansion is a primary focus for global CEOs when it comes to growth. 47 percent of CEOs plan to devote significant capital to geographic expansion outside of their home country over the next 3 years. Consequently, it is not surprising that 67 percent of CEOs also expect foreign revenue to be greater over the same time. CEOs identified the United States as the region offering the highest potential for new market growth (64 percent), followed by China (46 percent) and Western Europe (43 percent).

While 59 percent of CEOs say their company’s growth over the next 3 years will mostly be organic, acquisitions are still on the corporate radar – with almost 50 percent of CEOs planning to grow through acquisition over the next 3 years. It’s likely that any deals will be more strategic as companies focus on owning or keeping only the best assets or on making transactions that allow them to deliver against specific strategic objectives.

While growth is now an imperative for many CEOs globally, it is not their only strategic focus area. 49 percent of CEOs globally say they will focus on  improving operational efficiencies over the next three years, while 28 percent will focus on reducing cost structures, and 27 percent on improving operational effectiveness. To maximize growth, the most forward thinking CEOs will be finding ways to juggle both growth-specific and operational efficiency initiatives at the same time. 

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