2019 East Africa CEO Outlook - KPMG East Africa
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Uncharted waters

Uncharted waters

There have been some significant shifts in priorities for CEOs in East Africa concerning various areas of their business operations over the past 12 months. This bears testament to the dynamic landscape in which they make their decisions in pursuit if growth. Today, CEOs running organizations that have traditionally found their strength in business models designed to stand the test of time, are finding that the challenge now lies in embedding within them, the flexibility to respond to change. CEOs in East Africa are confident that not one, but a number of strategies will be required to build resilience in these fast-paced and disruptive times. Their focus rests on strengthening and maintaining their core, whilst putting in place operational processes that allow them to adapt nimbly to the changing environment.

Leading in uncertain times

Leading in uncertain times

CEOs in East Africa still report being at the front end of disruption in their respective industries. They have a thirst for innovation and recognize what nurtures it, but their organizational cultures are still not at a point where failure is embraced as a valid part of the process. To be truly disruptive, CEOs must face uncertainty and tackle it head on, drawing on various sources to best inform their decisions. They now have a widely shared and growing appreciation of the need to get to know their customers better; a key input into making smart investments that will deliver enhanced customer experiences, and in turn realize the best returns for growth. They are also restructuring their leadership teams, bringing a broadened set of skills to the table to inform strategy. Where they are unable to push the boundaries of their own capacity and be truly disruptive, they will seek out partnerships and draw on the capabilities of their strategic allies.

Changing from within

Changing from within

Disruption and risk are inseparable bedfellows. To build a resilient organization, CEOs will need to match their investments in technological enhancements with an equal focus on building cyber resilience. In so doing, CEOs will need to maintain a keen eye on protecting their customers’ data, even as they introduce new technology to surpass their expectations. CEOs in East Africa will also need to invest in transforming their businesses from the inside, augmenting their workforce’s capabilities to match the demands of the disruptive environment in which they are competing. Nevertheless, if they are to fully harness the power of technology to improve internal efficiency, CEOs in East Africa, as well as globally, are going to have to be bolder, moving beyond limited pilots to full scale implementation.

The evolution of the CEO

The evolution of the CEO

The role of the CEO has changed in scope and in depth. Today, East African CEO’s are not only expected to, but take it upon themselves to assume personal responsibility for presiding over aspects of the business they were not required to in the past. Data protection, environmental, social and governance policy, and taking the lead on technology strategy are all par for the course for today’s CEO. Despite an expanded remit, they must realize impact in less time, with a shortened average CEO tenure overall. While they had more time to do less in the past, today CEOs must deploy a different set of skills to not only instigate transformation and build resilience, but to register results. Only then will they make their mark and leave a legacy.