CEOs in Scotland need to act on tech and digital disruption

| Nov 02, 2016

Technology is the biggest issue facing CEOs in the coming years with globalisation and political change coming second and third, according to a new report by School for CEOs.

The PwC office in Edinburgh hosted the launch of the publication, Future-proofing the CEO: why chief executives need to adapt in an unpredictable world, and a round-table discussion by Rob Woodward, CEO at STV, Crawford Gillies, chairman at Control Risks International Ltd and NED at Barclays plc, Rosemary McGinness, HR director at William Grant & Sons and Michael Moore, senior advisor for PwC in Scotland.

Susie Simpson, private business lead at PwC in Scotland also spoke at the event and she shared her thoughts on the report and what CEOs need to do in the coming days, weeks and months ahead. She said

"Against the current backdrop of potential economic and political change, the conclusions reached in the report - that technology and digital would be the most significant driver for change over the next 5-10 years - are significant.

"This latest report reads really well as a companion piece to the PwC work on what CDOs in Scotland need to be doing to be future proof and what concerns CEOs currently have."

Millennials and the pace of change

"For me it is the perceived increase in the pace of change which really rang true, attributed to the increasing demands of the 'millennials'. For those of us who then start feeling their age (40 is definitely the new 30) -  business leaders cannot sit back and watch from the sidelines - condemning the millennials to the rank of contestants in Alan Sugar's 'The Apprentice'.

"The millenials are all about communication, communication, communication. There is more and more evidence to suggest that the new generation of leaders want to cut through business hierarchies and are used to quicker, better and more regular feedback. 

"The same is true of keeping up with the technological/digital revolution - it is all about quicker, better and more regular communication through the new mediums available. 'Always on, always open and always outward facing' was the verdict of one of the report's participants."

Technology: fear, threat or opportunity?

"Yet more of us see technology as a threat, apparently, than an opportunity. There is a constant fear of the next Uber or Airbnb to take over our respective sectors.

"This leads on to the clearly held view emerging from the report that the pace of change demands a change in entire business structures - a cutting through of hierarchies and the need for CEO's to enlist ever more diverse teams of people so that they see change coming. It's a call for diversity in terms of age, gender and experience. 

"And whilst I took some comfort from the report conclusions that CEOs/Chairs did not necessarily need to understand every detail of the technology shifts going on and the technology investment needed, they do need to go back to basics in terms of communicating a real vision for their organisations.

"The aim is to be a 'guiding north star' rather than the subject matter expert but always ready to adapt and flex team strategies to cope with change in direction."

Diversity in opinion across sexes and years

"As an organisation PwC has over the last 5-10 years had a real focus on diversity both in our leadership paths and in our partnership/board structure. In fact, I sit as one of a team of three female tax partners in our Edinburgh office.

"Now our focus in my team needs to be to bring back the diversity of a greater male influence and to ensure that we listen and allow to be heard the millenials coming through our organisation so that we don't remain stuck in our ways. 

"There is no room for tech dinosaurs when we are working daily to help both our smaller high growth and larger FS sector clients deal with the pace of change in sectors such as Fintech and life sciences as well as guarding against cyber and other digital threats to those of our clients in more traditional Scottish stalwart sectors such as food & drink, tourism and real estate/Oil and Gas.

"It may feel like a Mission: Impossible but it is one which, as business leaders, we have no option but to accept."

Contact us

General Enquiries
Tel: (0)141 355 4000

Follow us: