Recent insights from Russell Reynolds Associates:
Consultant David Mills interviews Rima Qureshi, Executive VP and Chief Strategy Officer at Verizon, on the role that the chair and CEO play in unlocking the power of diversity.
Barry Hoffman, Group HR director at Computacenter, speaks to Consultant Anna Penfold on the role of human resources (HR) in driving inclusion and diversity (I&D).
Carol Tomé, chief financial officer and executive vice president of Home Depot, is interviewed by Consultant Amy Hayes on Carol's own personal commitment to D&I as well as how she has driven progress within Home Depot.
Consultant David Mills interviews Hanneke Faber, president of Europe at Unilever, on how organizations can push for progress within diversity and inclusion and the role of D&I in shaping the future of business.
Consultant Tatyana Freitas interviews Ana Paula Assis, general manager of Latin America, IBM, on creating and executing diversity and inclusion strategies in the Latin America region.
Transformation, transparency of purpose and operational excellence are the new norm—societal expectations, greater competition and rapid globalization are all contributing factors to how organizations need to be progressive and open to new ideas and new ways of working. The importance of building a collaborative and inclusive corporate culture has never been more pressing as a means to engage meaningfully with all stakeholders. In this demanding environment, where brand and reputation are critical components of an organization's integrity and license to operate, the corporate affairs director (CAD) may be one of the most valuable members of an executive team.
Our research shows that the typical characteristics of a CAD are those of change agents—comfortable taking risks and prepared to challenge established procedures. These traits feature as distinctive. They are hungry to make a difference, very comfortable with ambiguity and confident about finding creative solutions to problems.
A smart CEO will welcome these strengths—recognizing the benefit of what may often be a lone voice at the executive table, the "corporate conscience," someone willing to bring the outside in and not necessarily be a "yes" person. CADs bring a unique skill set to the modern C-suite and can enhance corporate strategy significantly, particularly by being "in the tent" from the beginning.
Southeast Asia differs most from other regions in expectations of top leaders. They are seen as the key hurdle here to broader digital transformation, while CEOs are expected to be visionary and resolute. Respondents seek leaders who set a clear digital strategy for their organization.
In the same vein, leaders are also frequently cited as an impediment to digital transformation, especially when the leadership is seen as lackluster.
Nonetheless, Southeast Asia aligns closely with global organizations in terms of digital outlook. Organizations here are cognizant of the implications of digital technologies in all aspects of business.
In certain areas, Southeast Asian respondents feel that their organizations possess more factors which are agreeable to digital transformation in their businesses. Availability of data and structural barriers are less of an issue, while human capital remains a major impediment to success.
In recent years, university leaders from deans up to presidents have had to adapt to disruptions in the fundamental tenets upon which our higher education system was built. Decreases in financial support from federal and state governments can no longer be made up for by simply raising tuition, which has already reached quasi-unaffordable levels. Increased competition for the very best student candidates has resulted in colleges and universities "paying" more to maintain a high-quality student population. The resulting imbalance between the cost of providing education and the revenue traditionally brought in by universities has prompted deans and other higher education leaders to become more entrepreneurial and creative when it comes to moving their colleges and universities forward. As a way to encourage such entrepreneurship and innovation, many universities have moved toward a "responsibility-centered management" system, which gives deans incentives to find new revenue, but also places the challenge of balancing the budget and raising philanthropic funds squarely on their shoulders. As a result, deans' responsibilities now range from the more traditional tasks of overseeing curricular development as well as faculty promotion and tenure to more recently added responsibilities like fundraising, P&L management and general innovation. Like "mini-CEOs," they need business acumen, strong interpersonal skills and an entrepreneurial outlook. However, they must also be able to deploy those skills within the unique culture of an institution of higher education.
Given the central role of deans in confronting their sector's growing challenges, we wanted to understand the qualities that enable their success and thereby provide academic search committees with data to help them recruit and retain the forward-thinking talent they need. To do so, we asked 15 leading university deans from R1 institutions to complete well-validated psychometric assessments that focus on behavioral characteristics relevant to leadership roles. The results were aggregated and compared to the results of 3,500+ corporate and nonprofit executives, enabling us to identify the psychometric scales on which the deans resemble and diverge from their corporate and nonprofit counterparts.
Digital transformation is currently one of the key challenges that industrial leaders are grappling with. As industrial companies evolve to ensure they stay relevant in the new ecosystem, building a high-performing and effective digital team should be a key priority.
Action may be necessary, but timing is everything: Decentralizing might be the right decision to ensure that business units take ownership of their future, but a premature shift can have negative consequences. Some executives shared the frustrations of decentralizing before the digital strategy has been woven into the fabric of the organization.
Transformation is a shift in process and culture: Digital transformation requires a shift in culture as well as in organization structure. Since culture is driven by the top leadership of the company, digital transformation needs to be a priority for the Board and the CEO. Culture change requires an environment that encourages success but also leaves room for failure. This happens in "people policies" – such as performance assessment and compensation. In addition, some companies are investing in office layouts that facilitate a culture of collaboration, flexibility, and innovation.
Integration blurs the line between digital and non-digital: Over time, digital will become integrated into the business units, and the distinction between digital and non-digital will disappear. It is likely that key digital talent, especially those who have had P&L responsibility, will move into executive roles in the business units.
Not long ago, position titles like "chief innovation officer" or "vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship" would have featured fairly high on the list of unusual job titles for higher education institutions. However, the well-documented fundamental transformation of the education sector is prompting universities to reexamine two of their most unique assets—knowledge and research—in order to identify new sources of revenue and promote a culture of innovation that positions academia squarely within broader entrepreneurial ecosystems. Whereas the task of monetizing innovation has historically been the remit of technology transfer offices (TTOs), which have operated mostly in isolation as facilitators of a largely transactional process, this new mandate requires leadership that can bring a strategic, "whole of school" approach to fostering and reaping the benefits of university IP, as well as diffusing a culture of innovation across all aspects of university life.
The global retail industry is in a state of flux. Once iconic brands are struggling with too many stores, too high a cost base and too little differentiation. In recent years, Amazon did more than just introduce an easier way to shop; it changed the balance of power. Consumers now comparison shop, read reviews, order anywhere, return purchases, and manage subscriptions from their smartphones. At the same time, unprecedented levels of transparency have lifted the lid on companies' sourcing and production practices. This forces retailers to consider the customer in what used to be back-office activity. Amazon's model of putting customers at the heart of the purchasing journey has also triggered a revolution in expectations. Whereas customers were once just a link in the value chain – just one of many stakeholders – they are now everything. Retailers are responding, but is it enough? Retailers must align their operations – not just their products or platforms – with their customers' evolving preferences and behaviors. A systemic customer re-orientation is what is required for success in retail, and organization-wide transformation is the only way to get there. This has created a new breed of retail leaders: customer activists, not merchants. All of these changes require an executive for a new era.
The role of the chief supply chain officer, or CSCO, seems to grow in complexity and strategic relevance with each passing year—and the rich and robust capabilities of those filling the role reflect this expanding responsibility. CEOs and boards today want leaders who are fully accountable for the global end-to-end supply chain, from product innovation to product delivery. Having a CSCO who is responsible for the entire process ensures efficient, cost-effective, and reliable supply and delivery of products and services, whilst also impacting the top line— promoting growth, innovation, and new product launches.
The proliferation of digital technologies across industry sectors and regions is requiring a further expansion in the CSCO's role. Indeed, CSCO capabilities and responsibilities are now so important that several prominent companies have even considered tapping leaders with specific global supply chain experience for the CEO role. These developments compel us to look more closely at the following issues: Psychologically, what makes CSCOs different from other executives? What are the traits that enable or hinder CSCOs looking to step into a CEO role? How is the CSCO role evolving, and what traits will be needed in the future?