Over the past few months we have seen big changes at the top of some of the big consumer goods companies. In fact, almost a third of consumer goods companies have changed their CEO in the last two years.
That’s a key finding of our research into consumer goods leadership, which highlights the significant and rapid change this industry has been going through.
The challenges for today’s consumer goods leaders are very different than they were even a few years ago. There is a need to support accelerating customer preferences and expectations across a growing number of retail channels.
With the myriad of new technologies powering rapid advances in automation and consumer personalization, we can expect a new kind of leader to take the helm as companies search for their next phase of growth.
The new CEO skillset will include a passionate, entrepreneurial style of leadership and an innovative, “outside-in” mindset to boost growth. This new generation is likely to be mission-oriented and focused on delivering specific, focused goals rather than general management.
Our research suggests most companies (75%) are still promoting from within their organizations. But these successor CEOs generally have significantly more exposure to core functions like finance, supply chain, R&D, and HR than their predecessors — an encouraging trend towards a more diverse skillset.
Being prepared to look further afield for CEO talent is important because the demands placed on today’s consumer goods leaders are so great. Nestle looked to the healthcare sector when appointing its CEO, Ulf Mark Schneider, to better position itself for advancing the firm’s journey to become the preeminent player in the nutrition, health and wellness sector.
As industry disruption continues apace, CEOs need to be prepared to take more risk while simultaneously protecting the core business – and that’s no easy task. They also need to be as focused on deep analysis and purposeful decision-making as the previous generation were on drive and expression.
Just look at how Coca Cola CEO James Quincey is transforming a traditional business by embedding a performance-driven growth culture, entrenching the idea of moving faster, taking more risk, and approaching growth with discipline.
As the next generation of CEOs takes the helm, we are seeing clear parts of the consumer goods industry waking up to the new skillsets now required to drive future competitive advantage. Data-driven, collaborative, and tech-savvy, these new leaders go beyond just defining a business vision and instead look to embody the company purpose, inspiring employees and customers alike with an outward-looking sprit of entrepreneurialism and constant questioning.
More than anything, it’s about building a company with the capabilities to deliver relevance at scale by staying on the pulse of today’s tech-savvy consumers and crafting hyper-personalized experiences that truly resonate with each and every person.