Opinion | How covid-19 has rewritten CEO job specifications

Our post-covid CEO needs to be a disruptive transformer for sure, but also tech-savvy, fully engaged, ready to rally teams, and equipped with a crystal ball to answer existential questions

Live MINT | May 7, 2020


The LiveMINT article, "Opinion | How covid-19 has rewritten CEO job specifications," written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Sachin Rajan, explains the need for post-covid CEOs to be disruptive transformers, tech-savvy, fully engaged, ready to rally teams, and well-equipped to answer existential questions. The article is excerpted below.

Chief executive officer (CEO) search projects were simpler a decade ago. Client organizations sought “strategic" CEOs. A demanding board I recall once asked us for a perfect balance of strategic mindset and executional rigour, setting off ripples of panic within our research teams working on this corner-office recruitment.


Placing bets, the CEO is expected to don a battle face and rally the team, all with newfound poise and certainty. This is a CEO job specification. Plus, our leader must know when to boogie and when to introspect. The CEO will be asked questions that are deeply existential, worthy of a top-quality crystal ball. All this, within a tight horizon.

Purposeful and charismatic, the CEO must helm Zoom chats, straddling teams, geographies and markets. And yet, the CEO must stay engaged, lest it be seen as false and farcical. The galvanizer must also connect.


Nuanced interviews and the sharing of feedback in structured formats mark a decidedly higher level of involvement by corporate boards—both qualitatively and in terms of the sheer hours they put in.

All said, the toolkit to bridge special talent with organizations is evolving dramatically. Today, more than ever, CEOs seek answers from us to questions of sustainability and the “higher purpose" of their prospective employers. How well candidates and employers are matched is not always obvious in these turbulent times. As Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan wisely quipped, “I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me!"

Sachin Rajan is managing director and country manager, Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm.

To read the full article, click here.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the newsletter that prepares you for what's next with valuable insights across industries and geographies.
Opinion | How covid-19 has rewritten CEO job specifications