The pandemic has forced companies to accelerate their transformation. “We have done in two weeks what we thought was impossible in two years” is common feedback. To cope with groundbreaking situations, companies have had to move (very) fast.
Over the past several months, companies have been reviewing their business models and their priorities. They are now implementing these changes by altering some roles at the top of their organizational charts.
What is not changing?
These executive changes, including rates of hiring, quitting, and promotions (about 3,000 executive moves a day), are happening at about the same pace as they were last year.
What is changing?
We have identified five trends (illustrated below) that are changing. For each trend, we have identified hundreds of examples since April 1, 2020 among the 75,000 companies we follow.
Trend #1: New casting in executive committees
The new casting, we have seen, is mostly designed to quickly find business by engaging the workforce and adjusting their products.
Here is what has just happened at one of the largest oil companies we follow:
… has joined the company as Executive Vice President, Strategy and Sustainability.
… who was Global Head of Human Resources, Upstream, is promoted to Executive Vice President, People and Culture.
… who was Interim Chief Executive Officer, Downstream, becomes Executive Vice President, Customers and Products.
- Since April 1, some topics have become really hot: the sharp oil price drop and the sustainable energy momentum for all company stakeholders.
- As part of this ongoing organizational strategy, the CEO of this company decided to hire from outside the company.
- For their senior human resources executive role, this company promoted someone well known in the field. But they also added a focus in HR on cultural changes.
- To adjust the global product offer, a deep knowledge of the company core activities will be a key asset to succeed. Promoting an insider is a smart way to engage the existing workforce while leveraging this company’s over 100-year legacy.
Trend #2: Workplace and Culture are emphasized in HR
Up to April 1 of this year, HR was mainly about: Compensation &Benefits to motivate employees in the competitive job market; Talent Management to ensure the right employees are in the right roles; and Recruiting to fill in any missing talent.
Now, however, HR is also about restructuring the workplace to make it safe and enjoyable on-site and remotely, upskilling the team to cope with urgently needed business transformations, and building a culture compatible with the challenges of remote working.
Some examples we have seen recently:
… has joined the company as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (at a Forbes Global 2000 two century old chemical company)
… who was Chief Information Officer, becomes Senior Vice President of Digitalization, Workspace and Collaboration (at a Eurostoxx 600 chemical company).
… will join the company as Executive Vice President, Chief People and Culture Officer in Sep. 2020 (at aFortune 500 furniture retailer).
Trend #3: Business is about delivering revenue fast
Short-term revenue is expected from sales and operations. Companies are focused on key accounts and feeding supply chains to generate fast sales.
A few recent examples we have seen:
… who was Vice President, Growth, becomes Vice President, Strategic Accounts(at a Russell 3000 staple retailer).
… has joined the company as Vice President, North America Demand and Supply Chain Management (at a Global Fortune 500 sporting good company).
… has joined the company as Head of Global Delivery (at a Nasdaq 100 technology company).
Trend #4: New external strategies
Companies are demonstrating a new-found inspiration to augment or restructure their existing business models with new executive hires from outside their companies.
Several recent examples that we have encountered:
… will join the company as Senior Vice President, Innovation and Growth on Aug. 17, 2020 (at a Global Fortune 50 automaker)
… will join the company as Chief Digital and Strategy Officer on Aug. 10, 2020 (at a Russell 3000 food company).
… will join the company as Head of Strategy, Digital and Innovation in Oct. 2020 (at a S&P 500 bank).
Trend #5: Technology is being utilized to accelerate business transformation and build robust infrastructure
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) historically was often referred to as simply the IT expert in charge of the IT infrastructure, the IT security, and the IT application development. Sometimes, CIOs were involved in data management.
Today, however, the CIO role is about digital transformation and fast, powerful infrastructure development, modeled on the overwhelming success of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Most of these new roles have been filled through internal promotions, not external hires. A few examples we have encountered recently:
… who was Chief Technology and Operations Officer, becomes Group Digital Transformation Officer (at a Swiss insurance company).
… who was Vice President, Infrastructure, and Information Security, is promoted to Senior Vice President, Information Technology (at a Russell 3000 food company).
… who was Executive Vice President, Infrastructure Engineering, becomes Chief Availability Officer (at a S&P 500 software company).
Conclusion: No time to wait
Even with a new and urgent emphasis on team safety and engagement amidst the ongoing global pandemic, companies are still expecting and insisting decisive decision-making and swift results.