In April 2017 Egon Zehnder brought together a notable group of General Counsels and Legal/ Compliance Heads in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing GCs in Greater China. Several themes emerged during the roundtable events—themes that are relevant to any GCs in the region.
The days when the main function of Audit Committees was to put a “stamp of approval” on companies’ financials are long gone. Heightened risk awareness and increased regulation means that Audit Committees must now take on a much more proactive role in detecting, understanding and acting on risk – be it financial, macroeconomic, regulatory, legal or cybersecurity-related.
Board members today must grapple with increasingly complex matters of strategy and risk. In response, many companies are rethinking board meetings to enhance alignment, energize the board and elevate its performance.
Technology is transforming the industrial sector, bringing dramatic change in everything from time to market to customization. Realizing these benefits, however, requires organizations to undergo transformational change. But who, exactly, is going to make that change happen?
Within the executive committee, there is no relationship more important than that between the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. Because of this, when hiring a CFO, particular attention must be paid to the fit between the candidate and the chief executive. In our experience working with boards and CEOs making CFO appointments, strong CEO-CFO relationships exhibit three qualities.
Recently, I outlined the current talent crisis in the chemical industry, in which pipeline and succession challenges have hit just as the industry undergoes its most dramatic set of changes in a generation. There is no single path out of this dilemma, but the first step is to parse the ways in which the industry has become more complex.
There is no period in a company’s history more fraught with anxiety than the months leading up to the naming of a new CEO. Often, the board is eyeing the clock while trying to nudge the CEO into a graceful exit.
In the last decade, the oversight responsibilities of the board have taken on a new level of complexity. Disruptive business models can come from any direction, and the types of risks the board must monitor have multiplied.
Airline profits are flying high, thanks to healthy load factors, low fuel prices, and capacity discipline. But there’s another downturn ahead, and airlines must prepare for it now – by leading the way in digital transformation, and boosting their future talent bench.
Most CEOs and boards name succession, both for the CEO and for business unit leaders, as their biggest strategic challenge. While this leadership challenge exists for every industry, it is particularly acute in the consumer sector, where many of the successive waves of disruption first hit.
The prevailing narrative around the Industrial Revolution in its first, second and third iterations is only partly true.
Steam power, electricity and modern computing were in fact breakthrough technologies that rapidly came to the fore, disrupting established industries and creating new ones.
Karl Alleman discusses how during the Great Depression, when most consumer goods companies were dramatically cutting back on marketing, Coca-Cola Chairman Robert Woodruff boldly increased promotional spending to better position the brand and grow the business.
In the digital age, companies in every industry must unleash a new wave of innovation – or be disrupted by aggressive new competitors. Digital is transforming everything from consumer behavior to employee engagement to the management of cities and infrastructure.
Amoco, Anheuser-Busch, Chrysler, Motorola, Wrigley. Great Midwestern companies that failed to adapt to global competition and ended up being acquired. Many others have suffered the same fate or declared bankruptcy, and now the ongoing disruption from globalization and technological change is putting our legacy companies under further pressure.
Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity. These four characteristics, or VUCA for short, increasingly define our world. Large organizations must grapple with disruptive change in technology, competitor dynamics, and consumer expectations – along with high levels of market volatility and increasing uncertainty and complexity in politics and regulation.
As digitization sweeps across China’s economy and transforms consumers’ expectations and behavior, companies in every sector are scrambling to keep up. They must reimagine customer experiences, win at e-commerce, and harness digital technology to reshape their operations and organizations.
CHROs today face an ever more difficult challenge – identifying and developing the talent to drive the transformation required in today’s organizations, individuals who can solve problems quickly and in new ways, with the fortitude to navigate in uncertainty and to accept and overcome failure through an onslaught of data and marketplace changes.
What’s holding many of today’s best executives back from true success? It’s likely not skills or competencies, both of which have often been honed through years of development through ever-more challenging roles.
The last two decades have seen a dramatic evolution in Global In-house Centers (GICs), as their value proposition has shifted increasingly from cost arbitrage to talent and skill arbitrage. As a result, GICs—until recently known as “captive centers”— are now driving process and productivity improvements for the corporation, creating new capabilities such as analytics, and leading crossfunctional synergies.
Egon Zehnder CEO Rajeev Vasudeva recently hosted a dinner for board members, CEOs and chief human resources officers whose operations in China and India give them a strong interest in developing local leaders in these emerging markets. The lively discussion generated the following observations.
Family owned and promoter run organizations are often the best custodians of long term value creation in India. Yet, many of these organizations have had a mixed record in attracting and retaining high quality professional talent from the outside.
In the cover article of the June 2014 Harvard Business Review, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz argues that potential—even more than skill and experience—must be the deciding factor as companies recruit and promote executives in a fast-changing, talent-scarce world.
Everyone agrees that CEO succession planning is critical. Yet many Chairmen are concerned that their own companies are underprepared for a change of CEO – and are exposed to the risk of a damaging leadership vacuum. This is the finding of an Egon Zehnder study in which more than 50 Chairmen and CEOs of major companies headquartered in France, Germany, the UK, and the US were interviewed.
Many businesses are keen to leverage the huge potential of the Indian market. However, gaining a successful foothold in India takes perseverance and a real effort to adapt to the nuances particular to this country.