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Succeeding in uncertainty

23rd CEO Survey—Canadian insights

Forging a path in today’s new world

Canadian CEOs are feeling more uncertain about global economic growth and are increasingly concerned about the availability of key skills. In this uncertain environment, confident CEOs see opportunity in their people to drive productivity, innovation and growth. Our Canadian insights explore the sources of uncertainty and how CEOs can set themselves apart by focusing on differentiating capabilities.

Our report focuses on insights from Canadian CEOs across industries in several top-of-mind areas, including economic growth, upskilling, climate change and cybersecurity and privacy.

PwC Canada’s CEO, Nicolas Marcoux, previews the findings from the firm’s annual CEO Survey

Message from our CEO

PwC Canada’s CEO, Nicolas Marcoux, previews the findings from the firm’s annual CEO Survey.

Duration: 00:01:47

View transcript

Uncertainty weighs on growth

Entering 2020, Canadian CEOs are more uncertain than ever. In 2018, 72% of Canadian CEOs expected global economic growth to improve, but this optimism dropped to 38% in 2019 and 14% this year. In fact, CEOs are the most negative they have been at any time in the past five years. This finding is compelling because the change in CEOs’ revenue confidence has proven to be a reliable indicator of both the direction and level of global GDP growth in the year ahead.

82% of Canadian CEOs

ranked uncertain economic growth as a threat to their organization’s growth prospects. Last year, it didn’t crack the top five.

59% of Canadian CEOs

think their company is outperforming peers.

Economic worry meets possibility

Despite this subdued global economic outlook, most CEOs are still optimistic on their own prospects for revenue growth. While Canadian CEOs’ confidence has dipped over the past decade, seven out of ten are still somewhat or very confident about their organization's potential for growth in the next year. This jumps to 85% when they look to the next three years. What’s more, most Canadian CEOs also believe their company is outperforming peers.

This reinforces that their fears about growth may relate more to headwinds faced by all businesses, not just challenges specific to their own company.

Where are we looking to grow? Inward

Amid mounting trade and geopolitical tensions, more Canadian CEOs say their growth isn’t dependent on international markets. Only 44% consider the United States a key market for their organization's growth prospects, down from 60% in 2019 and 88% in 2018. And the feeling is mutual: only 8% of US CEOs say Canada was important to their growth, down from 21% in 2018.  

Organic growth and operational efficiencies remain top of mind, and there’s a noticeable dip in nearly all planned revenue growth activities, especially with new mergers, acquisitions, products and services. As organizations focus inward, CEOs have an opportunity to focus on upskilling their people to drive innovation and growth.

The playbook for upskilling in the modern world

75% of Canadian CEOs say they’re concerned about the availability of key skills to their growth prospects.

Canadian CEOs are universally concerned about the availability of key skills. Despite implementing upskilling programs, they’re not seeing the results they want.

Explore the insights

The reality and rewards of sustainability

62% of Canadian CEOs say they’re concerned about climate change and environmental damage as threats to their growth.

Canadian CEOs see the upside of climate change initiatives, but they lag behind their global peers on taking action, including the potential for new products and services.

Explore the insights

The state of cybersecurity and privacy

80% of Canadian CEOs say they’re concerned about cybersecurity as a threat to their growth.

Canadian CEOs are increasingly aware of the complexity of cyber threats, ranking which factors have the greatest impact on their cybersecurity strategies.

Explore the insights

New world. New skills.

Each year, in almost every organization, 5 to 10% of roles will radically change, creating severe skills mismatches. The discrepancy between the skills people have and those needed for jobs in the digital world is one of the most critical problems of our time.

Learn more about upskilling 

Contact us

Nicolas Marcoux

Nicolas Marcoux

Chief Executive Officer, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5302

Matthew Wetmore

Matthew Wetmore

National Managing Partner Industry & Regions, Strategy&, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 403 509 7483