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The KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook COVID-19 Special Edition offers a unique lens on evolving attitudes as the pandemic has unfolded. KPMG initially surveyed 1,300 CEOs in January and February, before many markets were beginning to feel the full impact of lockdowns. Then, in July and early August, we conducted a follow-up survey of 315 CEOs to understand how thinking has evolved. Key developments include:

  • Talent and a new working reality: Businesses are looking to change their recruitment strategies as remote working has widened their potential talent pool and companies may be rethinking their office space in the short-term while also considering the future of work.
  • Shifting risk agenda: Since the start of the pandemic, ‘Talent risk’ has risen to be named as the most significant threat to the growth of their businesses ahead of ‘Supply chain risk’ and a ‘Return to territorialism’.
  • Digital acceleration: Business leaders are betting on major dimensions of digital transformation and the majority have seen this accelerate during the lockdown.

Overall, three key themes emerged from this year’s survey, which we characterize as Purpose, Prosperity and Priorities.


KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook COVID-19 Special Edition

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Purpose-led, addressing society’s challenges

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEOs are focused on creating trusted, purposeful organizations that address critical societal challenges.

Prosperity image
Long-term growth amid talent & digital issues

As well as crisis response, CEOs are positioning their businesses for long-term growth and prosperity; accelerating digital transformation and focusing on the new skills their organization will need to thrive in the future.

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Refocusing workforce, ESG and supply chains

CEOs are doubling down on transformation priorities to build the capabilities needed to win, including leaning-in to their ESG programs, defining a long-term strategy for the future of work and creating more customer-centric supply chains.


CEO profiles


Unless otherwise indicated, throughout this report, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refer to the network of independent member firms operating under the KPMG name and affiliated with KPMG International or to one or more of these firms or to KPMG International.

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