How has the world changed according to the PwC Global CEO Survey?


The PwC Global CEO Survey has just been released. The mood worldwide had changed from a record level of optimism in 2018 to a record level of pessimism in 2020.


The survey was made across 1581 chief executives in 83 territories. The change in mood is driven by uncertainty. We look at the four key areas for clues as to their thinking:


  • Uncertainty undermines growth prospects In the past two years, the percentage of CEOs who believe global GDP growth will decline has increased from 5% to 53%. They cite over regulation, trade conflicts, cyber threats and climate change.
  • Lack of control over the internet We are seeing the unintended and dangerous consequences around online content, data privacy and dominant tech platforms. If the global economy is to realise the full promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a greater level of coordination on these issues will be necessary. The private sector’s implementation of these innovations is outpacing the development of regulatory systems and standards to mitigate their risks.
  • To upskill or not upskill the workforce Increases in automation, changes in demographics and new regulations make it much harder for organisations to attract and retain the skilled talent they need to keep pace with the speed of technological change. PwC’s analysis of more than 200,000 jobs in 29 countries confirms that 30% of jobs are potentially subject to automation by the mid 2030s, and that workers with lower education levels will be hardest hit initially.
  • Climate change: how to turn a crisis into an opportunity Organisations worldwide are starting to recognise its risks and its potential opportunities. Compared with ten years ago, CEOs today are far more likely to see the benefits of going ‘green,’ such as reputational advantage, new product and service opportunities, and government or financial incentives. This has suddenly become a real and hot topic.

All of this means changing how we think about many of the ways we have conducted business for years. Leaders today can harness the power of technology to re-imagine the way they plot strategy.


They can use Artificial Intelligence to consider a wide range of scenarios and test options. Understanding how a company can succeed under different sets of conditions increases confidence.


But companies can act on opportunities only if they have the organisational agility that allows them to execute rather than simply react.