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Companies Redefine Traditional C-Suite Roles to Meet Changing Business Demands

In this interview, we talked to Cathy Logue, from Stanton Chase about the results of the 2016 BlueSteps Executive Job Outlook report and her advice for candidates. Download the full report here.


Many executives expect the number of executive jobs to increase in 2016. Is now the time to make a move?
While there is certainly some contraction and consolidation in many industries, as well as the underlying threat of a global recession, we're seeing companies enhancing their senior leadership teams with a slew of newly-created C-suite roles to meet the evolving demands of the times, business or industry. This creates opportunities for executives with specialized skills and experience because they will be sought within specific areas of focus.

Traditional C-suite roles are being redefined and often sliced and diced. For, example we're seeing chief innovation or chief digital officer (CDO) roles carved out from the traditional chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO) roles, and chief diversity or chief inclusion officer roles carved out from traditional chief HR officer (CHRO) roles. Whether or not these roles will be permanent or transitional in nature is the question. Executives have much to gain in terms of broadening their experience if they are willing to take the risk.

Within Canada specifically, one area of continued growth is small to medium-sized enterprises, a significant component of the Canadian economy. As these companies continue to grow and prosper, we’ll experience newly-created C-suite CFO and COO roles and a growing demand for entrepreneurial-minded leaders with global experience. This will create opportunities for executives who are willing to make a move to smaller and (some would say) more risky organizations.
 

cathy_logue_executive_job_outlookWhat global economic trends do you see having the most impact on executive jobs in the coming year?
The World Economic Forum report released in January, "The Future of Jobs", offers some very interesting insights into the global economic trends that will impact executive-level roles in 2016 and beyond. 

Certainly the threat of a global recession is looming and will remain as a factor impacting the C-suite and mid-management in 2016. This will continue to influence our economic growth and cast shadows on the career prospects for executives in North America, at least in the near-term. There is a palpable aversion to risk that is often displayed in executive search as organizations are increasingly delaying hiring decisions extend hiring timelines.

But the answer to this question varies by region and industry, driven by economic factors and conditions both within Canada and globally.

In Canada, we’re facing a declining Canadian dollar relative to the US and other currencies, which has made Canada attractive to investors. We’re also contending with the negative impacts of lagging commodity prices and a struggling energy sector, due to our heavily resource-driven economy, which has effectively crippled much of Western Canada. Interestingly though, the downturn has actually created some opportunities in other sectors for Canadian executives who are adaptable and can transition their skills and experience to other industries.

The most significant trend we'll continue to experience in 2016 and beyond is the impact of technology, innovation and the accelerating pace of change. Technology will continue to redefine traditional C-Suite roles in virtually all sectors, calling for more technologically-savvy executives with a proven ability to succeed in highly-dynamic and rapidly changing environments. 

For example, in the financial services sector, we're witnessing increased regulatory pressure as well as the rise of disruptive financial technology companies. Banks are beginning to take the threat seriously by establishing relationships with startups and developing their own in-house technology talent. This has led to one of the most remarkable eras for financial innovation.

So, there is good news for executives with the right skills, aptitudes and abilities to adapt and re-invent themselves to a certain degree, as the economy shifts. 

One of the bright spots in the Canadian economy is the manufacturing sector, fueled by a weak Canadian dollar and a relatively strong US economy, which should give a big boost to Canada’s non-energy exports.

The retail sector will continue to evolve due to increased competition, so traditional retailers will need to find ways to marry their physical and digital stores to better serve the ever more important mobile customer. So again, technology is a major factor that transcends all industry sectors.


How can an executive best present him/herself to get noticed by executive search consultants in today’s marketplace?

First of all, working with executive search consultants should be less about getting “noticed” or “found,” and more focused on building long-term relationships. Executives can ensure visibility with search consultants by always keeping in touch and maintaining relationships while employed.

Building a strong, professional brand presence on LinkedIn is a highly-effective method of increasing executives’ visibility with search consultants. LinkedIn presents an opportunity to showcase your experience and expertise to a very wide audience and is an important element of any job search. It’s also a very valuable professional networking tool that executives should leverage in order to “get noticed” by search consultants.
 

What would you rank as the major challenges for executives at the moment, and what executive skills are in high demand considering those current challenges?

I addressed some earlier, but I would rank these as the top two challenges: 

1. Keeping pace with technology

A significant challenge for senior leaders is keeping abreast of new technologies and ensuring their organizations are able to adapt and thrive. This is increasingly demanding due to the accelerated pace of change and the continuous investment, both in terms of capital and resources, that is required to keep up.

Executives also have to constantly keep on top of unexpected disruptive technologies that might upend their company and industry.

Another technology-related challenge facing executives is the threats and risks associated with data security and cyber-attacks, which is something that wasn’t on corporate radar screens to the same degree ten or even five years ago.

2. Attracting and retaining top talent

Given the combined impacts of consolidation, globalization and technology, the ability to attract, lead and retain top talent is more important than ever. The war for talent is real and the competition for top talent will only increase.

For senior leaders, the ability to inspire, generate loyalty, motivate and retain top-performing millennials will be an increasing challenge within a continuously evolving and competitive business environment. This will be especially important with the changing demographics of the workforce as Baby Boomers, many of whom are long-time employees with a depth of organizational knowledge, retire or leave the permanent workforce.

Given this, executives with a proven ability to embrace, manage and play a strategic leadership role in these areas will be the most successful in the new economy. The ability to recognize the needs of the business and build the right senior leadership and mid-management teams to support those needs and drive the business forward will be more important than ever.
 

Why do you think most executives valued executive coaching and digital/social media training over other forms of additional training/education? Do you agree that this is the best way for executives to stay relevant in the job market, other than on the job experience?
Yes, it’s definitely an important way for executives to ensure their skills are remaining relevant. Unfortunately, too often they forget to invest in themselves – they’re too busy running companies – and fall behind. In my view both executive coaching and digital media training are important components of executive development, but will never replace “on the job” training. 

If you’re referring to how executives interact with social media and training support they may need, I think a growing majority of the C-suite population understands that social media is impacting their customers, competitors, employees, suppliers, business partners and the overall business landscape. While they may not use it themselves, they acknowledge they need to understand how it’s affecting their organizations on a daily basis.
 

If you could offer one key piece of advice to today’s senior leaders, what would that be?

Stay current. Never stop learning. Keep abreast of new technologies and make sure you’re constantly aware of the long-term impact on your business and industry.

Executives have to acknowledge that a lot of the things they’ve learned and have helped them be successful in the past may no longer be as relevant. Skills that were once coveted are now outdated and they need to continuously invest in themselves and their teams to remain at the top of their game and “future proof” their careers as much as possible.
 

For more one-on-one interviews and commentary from leading executive search consultants, download the full report here.

2017 BlueSteps Career Outlook Report

The 2017 BlueSteps Career Outlook Report connects insights from more than 1,200 management-level professionals around the world, all BlueSteps members. Findings from the report include data on what industries, sectors, and geographic regions executives expect to see the most growth, with supporting data from AESC member executive search consultants. The data for this report was generated by BlueSteps and the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants. Download a complimentary summary of the report below.

Download the Summary

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