Industrial Goods

Industrial Goods Five Leadership Issues Worthy of Board and Executive Attention


​The industrial goods sector, including manufacturing of electric goods and electronic systems, as well as discrete manufacturing and industrial machinery, is transforming due to the changes in technology and company structures, as well as globalisation. The increased pressure to innovate, influx of private equity investors, ongoing mergers and acquisitions, and a host of other major risk drivers all are contributing to dialogues in boardrooms and executive offices. Most significantly, executives are asking if they have the right leadership talent in light of the challenges they face.

From our conversations, the following five issues and their implications on leadership talent have emerged as top of mind for industrial goods sector executives:

  • Capitalising on the industrial Internet

  • Fostering innovation to fuel future growth

  • Creating an agile and flexible supply chain

  • Identifying and developing next-generation leaders

  • Building a board to tackle the future

We hope this executive briefing document will serve as a discussion starter for thinking through how to attract and retain the right talent in the face of these challenges.

Capitalising on the Industrial Internet

  • Manufacturing industries have always worked with data to enhance processes. The industrial Internet holds opportunities for further operational improvements, as well as the creation of completely new business models.

  • Industrial goods companies should prioritise building out Data & Analytics teams that collect and convert data into tangible knowledge and intelligence through modeling and analytical processing. These teams are key in delivering timely insights to shape major business decisions and strategies.

Fostering Innovation to Fuel Future Growth

  • In order to succeed in the future, industrial goods companies must continue investing in research and development (R&D) and innovation. Treating R&D and innovation as a strategic priority means carefully assessing and handpicking talent that understand how to commercialise R&D efforts without stalling creativity.

  • The cultivation of innovation cannot be done by chief technology officers (CTO)/R&D leaders alone—it also requires a culture that encourages entrepreneurialism and tolerates failures.

Creating an Agile and Flexible Supply Chain

  • The supply chain of the future must be able to respond to changes in supply and demand before they impact production. Sophisticated data and analytics tools are an important part of the solution.

  • The chief supply chain officer (CSCO) is becoming a key C-level report integrating planning, procurement, manufacturing and logistics in industrial goods companies.

Identifying and Developing Next-Generation Leaders

  • Industrial goods companies need to think more strategically about their talent pipeline in order to foster
    diversity in the company and to meet the challenges of the future.

  • Fresh perspectives will come from exposing internal professionals to a variety of challenges and geographical
    rotations, as well as from pinpointing talent from industries such as technology and software companies.

Building a Board to Tackle the Future

  • In addition to key tasks such as CEO succession planning and remuneration, boards need to respond to new challenges like cyber security, shareholder activism, the industrial Internet and board composition regulation.

  • In order to prepare for the future, industrial goods boards must bring in diverse skill sets, as well as board members who appreciate the industrial Internet and who can help steer real transformation.



  1. “GE unveils new high-speed network for Industrial Internet”, timesunion, July 16, 2015

  2. “Siemens to build open cloud platform for industrial customers”, Siemens, March 12, 2015

  3. “Tours show off GE’s Brilliant new space in Niskayuna”, The Daily Gazette, July 16, 2015

  4. Russell Reynolds Associates interviews, 2015

  5. “IoT a reality in maritime tracking”, IT Online, November 2, 2015

  6. Digital Pulse Survey, Russell Reynolds Associates, 2015

  7. Productive Disruptors: Five Characteristics That Differentiate Transformational Leaders, Russell Reynolds
    Associates, 2015


  1. “The 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard”, European Commission, 2014

  2. The World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2014, Forbes, 2015

  3. Proprietary research, Russell Reynolds Associates, 2015


  1. “Digitization of the supply chain: How ready are you?” Russell Reynolds Associates, 2015

  2. Proprietary research, Russell Reynolds Associates, 2015


  1. A Russell Reynolds Associates’ proprietary analysis of CEOs of 32 of the largest industrial goods companies globally, 2015


  1. A Proprietary research, Russell Reynolds Associates, 2015
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Industrial Goods

We help build successful senior executive teams for companies involved in the manufacturing of electric goods and electronic systems and discrete manufacturing and industrial machinery.
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Discover more about our expertise in

Industrial Goods

We help build successful senior executive teams for companies involved in the manufacturing of electric goods and electronic systems and discrete manufacturing and industrial machinery.
Learn More

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