Inside the mind of the CEO

A Singapore observation of PwC's 20th CEO Survey

Our global report observes a ‘diverging world’, where recent events exposed a divide among voters in some of the world’s economic powerhouses. Due to the open nature of Singapore’s economy, these events may have potential knock-on effects as a result of its high dependence on international trade.

Challenged with a time marked by shifting global trends and growth patterns, how business leaders engage employees and stakeholders (both public and private) – often, by articulating and upholding their sense of purpose – has never been more important.

The Singapore observation - at a glance

  • Competing in an age of divergence
  • A more considered growth strategies
  • Managing man and machine
  • Gaining from connectivity without losing trust
  • What is the world coming to?

Competing in an age of divergence

Economic growth outlook: Growth will not be inclusive

  • When asked about whether the global economic outlook will improve, stay the same or decline over the next 12 months, views from majority of the CEOs surveyed woldwide (53%) suggest that it is likely to remain the same as last year. Meanwhile, responses from the Singapore business leaders surveyed are evenly divided.
  • This indicates that the market growth we’ll be seeing in the year ahead is not likely to be inclusive, and that opportunities will not be evenly distributed across all sectors.

What does this mean for CEOs?

As globalisation and technology continue to shape the world in multiple and, arguably, uncertain directions, business leaders can develop their organisation’s ability to cope with disruption, as well as to seize and leverage opportunities uncertainty bring.

A more considered growth strategies

Responding to changing markets and capitalising on growth opportunities

  • As the opportunity-risk profiles of various economies are becoming more changeable and unpredictable, CEOs are investing in a mix of developing and developed economies to even out the risks borne.
  • In addition to organic growth, business leaders are showing significant appetite for cost cutting, strategic alliance/joint venture, as well as mergers and acquisition to capitalise on opportunities.

What does this mean for CEOs?

  • Change is happening in non-linear ways, but business leaders can have control over some level of predictability and certainty, such as through seeking new headroom in near and new markets where their strengths can make a difference.

Managing man and machine

Creativity cannot be coded

  • The combination of man and machine can generate more value than either alone.
  • The skills that are hardest to recruit for are creativity and innovation, leadership, and emotional intelligence; they are the characteristics that are difficult to replicate or automate.

What does this mean for CEOs?

  • The ‘human factor’ remains crucial in the digital age. Even where jobs can be fully automated, some roles will remain in human hands as empathy and creativity is integral to providing customers with a unique and differentiated experience.

Gaining from connectivity without losing trust

Responding to a new environment transformed by connectivity

  • Digital connectivity has exposed organisations to far more scrutiny than before. More business leaders are finding it harder to gain and retain people’s trust in an increasingly digitised world.
  • A significant majority are also saying it has become more important both to establish a strong corporate purpose, as well as to run their companies in a way that address wider stakeholder expectations.
  • Among the top threats that could significantly undermine stakeholders trust identified by Singapore respondents are breaches in data privacy and ethics, as well as in cybersecurity.

What does this mean for CEOs?

  • Digital connectivity and technology introduce both opportunities and new risks into the ecosystem. Businesses will need to set clear boundaries whilst incubating new ways of delivering services, and ensure that their line managers are mindful of this.

What is the world coming to?

The future of globalisation: A simultaneously converged and diverged world

  • Business leaders woldwide have been largely positive about the impacts of globalisation on businesses and markets, yet a significant number indicate that it has not helped with closing the gap between the rich and the poor.
  • While the forces of globalisation and technology have jointly enabled a digitally connected world, 2016 brought into focus a shift towards a diverged world – one divided by multiple powers, beliefs and frameworks.
  • Increasing hostility towards globalisation, predominantly fueled by inequalities (eg. level of income, living standards, access to resources, etc.), may potentially lead some governments to look inwards, making it more challenging for international trade and co-operation.

What does this mean for CEOs?

  • Economic forces are set in motion by choices people make. Public discontent is a danger to growth, while social well-being and equality are vital in driving long-term economic performance.

Contact us

Sam Kok Weng
Markets Leader
Tel: +65 6236 3268

Candy Li
Tel: +65 6236 7429

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