Hidden Job Market: CEO Turnover Rises in 2022

2022 holds all the prospects of becoming a record year for the Hidden Executive Job Market.  I want to briefly discuss what the great resignation means for your 2022 CEO career strategy.

There are at least five drivers causing tectonic global business change, and partially also CEO turnover which is expected to rise to as much as 30% in Fortune 500 companies.

First Driver: Volatility 

CEOs across a wide range of sectors expect volatility to govern 2022, in almost everything according to a CNBC Leadership Roundtable.

Second Driver: Labor Gains

2022 will be the year of the worker (Source: The Economist/12/2021). With 30m unfilled vacancies across the rich world, workers have more bargaining power than they have had for years.

Third Driver: Equitable Hiring

Only 8 Percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 Companies are female. The pressure for more equitable hiring is continuing as the number of female CEOs has risen for the third consecutive year.

Fourth Driver: Underperformance

2022 will see the replacement of underperforming leaders caused by lack of leadership or caused by mismatch to the new requirements in the emerging new normal.

Fifth Driver: Pivotal System Shifts

2022 will see the switch to new systems and structures that profoundly impact the world and every one of us. Governments releasing e-currencies. Cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance. Open RAN mobile telecom networks triggering the shift to a more cost-effective distributed telecom infrastructure. The business of internet-enabled chip implants in the brain. Shifts to distributed/virtual learning and education. A new generation of chips, AI chips, pave the way for the AI revolution to unfold.

 “We are in a world where business model innovation is at the forefront of facilitating growth. One of the failures of CEOs and executive teams is to not challenge one’s business model from its dominant industry logic and thus you play to compete in the red ocean and not to win in the blue ocean. Equally the need for CEOs to have a digital-first mindset coupled with an appreciation of what new technologies can offer to one’s business model is fast becoming the norm. CEOs need to continue to re-imagine themselves and the teams in this area”, says Douglas Lines, co-author of “How to create innovation”. 

 Take the case of Intel, for which I used to do executive search as well as executive career advisory. Intel has the reputation of being an undisputed technology and industry leader.  In the past two decades, however, Intel never succeeded in innovating anything other than their chip business, and even there it has been losing business in recent years. In 2020 Intel’s data center revenue dropped to 20% of previous levels. 

In June 2021 Intel lost Google to rival AMD. Moreover, Apple’s chips for iPhones outperformed Intel ones by 70%. Intel is but one company that was forced to change top management which no longer met the needs and priorities of the business challenges of 2022 and beyond. Think of all those companies that were sticking to their CEO because they did not want to let go at the beginning of the Corona crisis situation. Now it is time for many to move on and find a better matching job opportunity and career path.

Intel’s newly appointed CEO Gelsinger restructured and reorganized the company and its leadership team, let go of the Head of Data Center, Navin Shenoy, after 26 years of tenure, and announced in June 2021: “Intel is back. The old Intel is now the new Intel.”  Who in Intel would have thought that this is possible, and even more who in Intel would have thought that Intel is laying off senior executives and middle management to regain competitiveness? The future will tell whether Gelsinger is able to revitalize Intel.

Daimler is similar to Intel in that it seems incapable of innovating outside of cars and recently suffered a major restructuring. The question is why would a company with a stellar brand, with all imaginable resources lay off people? They ventured into airplane manufacturing. They ventured into the home battery market to challenge Tesla’s Powerwall. Both initiatives were abandoned. Furthermore, Daimler lacks behind Tesla in electric and autonomous driving. In 2019, Daimler and BMW entered a joint venture for autonomous driving platforms, which was dissolved shortly after. You see, it is not all gold that glitters. It remains to be seen whether the new Finnish CEO will be able to revitalize Daimler.

In this chaos of companies rising, drowning, and redefining the Hidden Job Market for executives thrives.

Conclusion

CEOs need to be the thermostat, not the thermometer. Especially in 2022, control your destiny: You are in control of your career, future and income, not someone else. Make the Hidden Executive Job Market your most promising playground, and steer your career to your highest 

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