Most Irish CEOs planning ‘major transformation’ this year - EY

Pandemic has accelerated company plans to change product mix and evolve business

Some 91 per cent of Irish chief executives told EY they expected empathy and soft skills to come to the fore. Photograph: iStock

Some 91 per cent of Irish chief executives told EY they expected empathy and soft skills to come to the fore. Photograph: iStock

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Four-fifths of Irish chief executives are planning a “major transformation” of their companies over the next 12 months, with the pandemic accelerating their plans for organisational change, according to a study by accountancy firm EY.

The proportion who said they would start a “new and comprehensive” transformation initiative this year, at 81 per cent, was ahead of the 61 per cent global average suggested by EY’s latest CEO Imperative study, which was based on interviews with 305 global chief executives among the Forbes Global 2000, including 32 Ireland-based respondents.

Some 53 per cent of the Irish chief executives surveyed forecast continued business growth over the next three years, while almost half were envisaging significant change in the mix of products and services they plan to offer over the next 12 months to meet new customer demands.

Irish chief executives were also less likely than their global counterparts to say the pandemic has slowed or had no impact on their transformation agendas.

“The experience of the last 12 months has hastened the imperative to transform. It’s really encouraging to see that Irish CEOs are ready to embrace this new agenda,” said EY Ireland managing partner Frank O’Keeffe.

“If businesses are to survive and grow in the post-Covid world, CEOs will need to move quickly to adopt new business models better suited to the new environment, and from what we have seen, Irish business leaders are already ahead of the curve so far.”

With nine in 10 of those surveyed predicting empathy and soft skills will come to the fore more as management capabilities, Irish chief executives are “starting to look beyond the balance sheet”, Mr O’Keeffe added.

“There is a true acknowledgement that placing the needs and wants of employees and customers at the centre of all decision-making across strategy, operations, innovation and culture, is critical to driving long term value.

“This, together with a more meaningful focus on purpose and values, makes for a really strong outlook as we emerge from the pandemic.”

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