By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com
According to the PwC 16th Annual Global CEO Survey and 4th South African Survey, positive developments across a broad range of macroeconomic initiatives has buoyed the outlook of many CEOs in the past year, with overall confidence in the growth of the global economy improving from 3% in 2011 to 16% in 2012 among South African CEOs, and from 15% to 18% globally.
Suresh Kana, PwC Territory Senior Partner for Africa, says: “This year we find CEOs acknowledging the vast array of challenges and uncertainties they face, yet being refreshingly positive in their belief that their organisations will come out on top.
“In this year’s study we set out to find out how CEOs are changing their organisations to become more agile and adaptable and, ultimately, better able to succeed in the face of adversity.”
In the past year, half of South African CEOs (52%) increased their staff complement, while the proportion that has reduced headcount has increased by a fifth to 30%, after seeing a moderate improvement between 2010 and 2011. In the year ahead, 75% of CEOs expect headcount to either increase or stay the same, according to the PwC survey.
Most CEOs have developed a strategy and will continue to do so, with just over 16% of local CEOs anticipating a major change to their companies’ strategy over the next 12 months, almost a third less than a year ago. Nearly a quarter (23%) do not plan to make any changes to their strategy in the next 12 months. Strategies for managing talent (89%) and increases in technology investments (88%) as well as R&D and innovation (70%) are the areas in which CEOs expect to see the most internal change, even though none of these stood out among the top-three investment priorities.
A significant percentage of CEOs (88%) are extremely concerned about the availability of key skills. However, there are also issues that South African CEOs are worrying about less than their global counterparts. These include fears of an increasing tax burden, and shifts in consumer spending and behaviour.