How CEOs Plan to Pivot and Adapt in a Post-COVID Environment

Dana Peterson, Conference BoardIt's the age-old question: What's keeping CEOs up at night? According to The Conference Board CEO Challenge® survey, the answer includes, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet it's also a risk of recession, shifting consumer buying behaviors, and global political instability. How should the priorities of CEOs shift with all these external factors to consider?

We asked Dana Peterson, Chief Economist & Center Leader of Economy, Strategy & Finance at The Conference Board. At the AESC Virtual Conference in May, Dana will dive into the results from Conference Board C-Suite Challenge® 2021 report. She gives us a sneak peek here.

The strategies CEOs will focus on in 2021 are a mix of prudent financial management and cultural changes to drive growth and improve performance. How does this differ from strategic decisions made before the pandemic? What have you seen change the most?

The pandemic means the luxury of having years-long lead time to digitally transform and experiment with new business models is gone. Recovery will require finding the right balance between conserving cash and investing in innovation needed to succeed in a new commercial landscape. While CEOs and C-suite executives recognize that consumer buying behaviors are changing, they see new products and services and new customer segments, driven by data analytics and expanded strategic partnerships, as key levers of growth for their companies.

According to The Conference Board’s C-suite Challenge 2021, CEOs see COVID-19 making a lasting legacy on their organizations; less business travel, more automated tasks, impact on supply chains, and more. What lasting economic impact do you think will remain in a Post-COVID-19 world?

Remote work is here to stay, which will have implications for housing, wages, and inflation. Pandemic-era supply chain disruptions mean that companies and governments are thinking more about diversification, near-shoring, reshoring, and industrial policies. Consumers have fundamentally changed how they consume goods and services, meaning firms must adapt with innovative technologies and business models, or fall behind. The pandemic has exacerbated many different types of inequalities, including income, social, and digital. Businesses can take advantage of opportunities to help close some of these gaps with new products and services, technology, and/or corporate citizenship.

You’ll be speaking at our AESC Virtual Americas Conference in May. Can you share a preview of what you’ll be discussing during your session?  

I will discuss the results of the Conference Board C-Suite Challenge® 2021. Indeed, what keeps CEOs up at night that are within their control and out of their control. Also, how CEOs plan to pivot and adapt to a post-pandemic environment. In the short term, preparing for growth and recovery will require finding the right balance between conserving cash and investing in the innovations and programs needed to succeed in a new commercial landscape.

Hear more from Dana about leading in a Post-COVID-19 recovery at AESC's Virtual May Conference.

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