A Solid Talent Pipeline & Other Concerns Of A CEO

What keeps your CEO up at night? The answers are both old and new.

Years may come and go, the names may change, but much of what keeps CEOs up at night remains the same: talent management and a solid talent pipeline. With unemployment at a 50-year low and a paradigm shift to a job seeker’s market, managing people and keeping them around are what many CEOs deem their biggest challenges.

CEOs worldwide view the future with both optimism and anxiety. A 2018 survey by PwC found that in North America, roughly two-thirds of CEOs believe global economic growth will improve, and a majority are ‘very confident’ about their own company’s revenue growth this year.

They also think more globally than just five years ago. They now worry more about what trust (or lack thereof) means for their organizations. In 2018, 58% of CEOs are concerned about how a lack of trust in business could harm their company’s growth, rising from 37% in 2013.


What Are Their Other Concerns?

Undeveloped Leaders

A 2016 Inc. study revealed that a majority of CEOs cite “human capital” concerns as their top challenge. Four of the top 10 most critical human capital strategies:

  • Improved leadership development programs
  • Enhanced effectiveness of senior management teams
  • Improved effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers
  • Better succession planning

The Global Marketplace

Many CEOs worry about maintaining a worldwide brand, managing different currencies, economic stability across the globe, and maintaining a consistent company culture across different regions. In today’s global marketplace, CEO’s must ask themselves whether their strategies, values, and processes work on a worldwide stage.

Human Versus Machine

Cyber threats and data protection are key concerns for CEOs, jumping from the No. 10 spot last year to No. 4 on the 2018 PwC CEO report. It was the top concern of CEOs in North America. As cyber attacks have grown in frequency and sophistication, many organizations are behind in their ability to detect and prevent them. More analysts will be needed to come up with innovative ways to prevent hackers from stealing critical information and creating havoc on computer networks.

The PwC survey also found that many CEOs find getting and keeping trust is harder in the digital era. They understand the need for transparency and want to see it visible across organizational values, culture, and behavior.

Too Much Regulation

This ranked in the top five globally in the PwC survey. From healthcare to big pharma, and telecommunications, data protection, reporting, pay, benefits/pensions, compliance is at the forefront (*incidentally, veterans understand how to keep the house in order. They are highly accustomed to following processes and procedures. And in areas where none exist, veterans know how to create them).

  • Staying ahead of the competition
  • Product innovation
  • New markets
  • Expanding traditional markets
  • Growing revenue
  • Increasing operational efficiencies
  • Improving the bottom line


Whether it’s creating a solid talent pipeline or learning how to navigate the candidate market, the problems that keep CEOs up at night will be where attention is placed in the morning. And more than likely, it will be to strive towards a common goal: finding, motivating and retaining the right talent so that products and services meet customers’ needs.


by Katie Becker



  • https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2018/pwc-ceo-survey-report-2018.pdf
  • https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/4-concerns-that-keep-ceos-awake-at-night/
  • https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/whats-keeping-ceos-up-at-night-according-to-1-massive-study.html