U.S. CEOs are showing less confidence for growth in the next year but are optimistic about the longer-term horizon, according to PwC’s 16th Annual Global CEO Survey. Half of the 167 U.S. CEOs responding to the survey have been heading their companies for less than five years—in an operating environment unlike anything seen before. PwC’s analysts say these CEOs will pass their experiences on to the next generation of CEOs, shaping a new perspective on the importance of resilient leadership through uncertainty.
That attitude has shaped a more conservative philosophy on spending. Last year, 81% implemented cost-cutting measures. In 2013, 71% are planning cuts. At the same time, CEOs expect operational leaders to hold the line on costs, create value and contribute to growth.
In the year ahead, more than half of U.S. CEOs responding (53%) plan to strengthen engagement with key suppliers to both minimize costs and maximize supply chain flexibility and delivery performance. Globally, industries most focused on such supply chain engagement include industrial manufacturing (84%), consumer goods (80%), energy, oil and gas (79%) and technology (76%).
Specific areas of focus include delivery issues and tailoring products to consumer needs. Forty-three percent of U.S. CEOs said 2013 will bring more shifts in consumer spending behaviors. Many are concerned about energy and raw material costs (41%). That coincides with a desire to reduce their company’s environmental footprint (43%). But sustainability runs counter to the use of low-cost and best-cost country sourcing, making it more difficult to control environmental and social risks.