PwC Azerbaijan’s 4th Annual CEO Survey: A leadership agenda to take on tomorrow
On 8 June 2021, PwC Azerbaijan launched its 4th Annual CEO Survey in Azerbaijan. The key findings of the survey were presented to the businesses and media at an event attended by CEOs and top management, public officials and diplomats. The Azerbaijan CEO Survey is a part of the Annual Global CEO Survey and it is a flagship PwC survey, in which the views of thousands of chief executives around the world take part for the past 24 years.
For business, 2021 will be a year of reinvention. One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, PwC Azerbaijan surveyed 120 CEOs around Azerbaijan about their plans to respond to new threats, transform their operating model and create a more sustainable future. CEOs from both private and public companies from all the key industries in Azerbaijan participated in the survey.
Now in its 4th year, the objective of the Azerbaijan CEO Survey is to identify key trends and patterns in the local economy that affect important management decision-making by leaders of the business establishment.
The event featured panel discussion with Rainer Rathgeber, CEO of Bakcell, Taleh Kazimov, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of PASHA Bank and Asif Zeynalov, CEO of GL LTD. Movlan Pashayev, Country Managing Partner of PwC Azerbaijan, was moderating the panel discussion.
“A lot has changed since we conducted the CEO Survey last year. Pandemic brough a clear disruption and uncertainty all over the world and Azerbaijan was not an exception. Despite unprecedented times, CEOs are progressing dynamically and reimagining the ways to capture the new opportunities by accelerating their ambitions and doing the ordinary in extraordinary ways”, said Country Managing Partner of PwC Azerbaijan, Movlan Pashayev during the event.
This year Azerbaijani CEOs are very optimistic and the current optimism of business leaders across Azerbaijan reflects the worldwide picture, as mass vaccine programmes finally start to offer an assured exit from the pandemic. 71%of Azerbaijani CEOs believe that worldwide economic growth will improve in 2021. Azerbaijani CEOs also see a path forward — for the global economy, and for their own organisations: 42% of Azerbaijani CEOs say they are very confident about their revenue growth prospects for the next year, and 56% are very confident looking ahead three years.
Despite their confidence, local CEOs are acutely aware of threats in the external environment, starting with the obvious: pandemics and other health crises are the number one threat on this year’s list, with 64% of Azerbaijani CEOs stating they are “extremely concerned” slightly more than the global and CEE average.
Exchange rate volatility is of significantly greater concern to Azerbaijani respondents than for the global and CEE ones: 54% express extreme concern about this threat (up from 32% in 2020). Not surprisingly that 49%of Azerbaijani CEOs have factored exchange rate volatility into their strategic risk management activities.
A growing number of Azerbaijani CEOs (33%) are seeking to boost their organisations’ competitiveness through their focus on skills and adaptability in their people while 67% of them believe that a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce is a top business priority.
The increasing focus by Azerbaijani CEOs on technology to raise productivity does not necessarily mean that they envisage smaller workforces when growth returns. In the short term, a few number of Azerbaijan CEOs businesses responded to the COVID-19 crisis by cutting payrolls – 19% of them report that they have reduced their organisation’s headcount over the past 12 months by between 8% and 3%, a significantly lower proportion than the global and CEE average respectively.
The increase in Azerbaijani CEOs’ concern about cyber threats and misinformation coincides with the rapid acceleration of many companies’ digital transformations during the pandemic, with no plans to slow down.
The sudden shift to remote working last year acted as an urgent wake-up call that digitisation and upskilling are critical to future success, in rapidly evolving country economies underpinned by AI, robotics and other emerging technologies. The good news is that 60% of Azerbaijani respondents, compared with 49% globally and 50% in CEE, aim to increase their investments in digital transformation and it’s a direct response to the impact of COVID-19.
PwC Azerbaijan has conducted 120 interviews with the CEOs of significant entities in both private and public sectors. The interviews were conducted mostly online, followed by face- to-face meetings. The interviews were spread across a range of industries. All interviews were conducted on a confidential basis. 12% of responding companies had revenues of $101-$999 million; 80% of companies were privately owned.
Marketing and Communications Leader, PwC Azerbaijan
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