Supply Chain, Customer Experience Driving Executive Job Demand into the New Year
On the heels of our recent look at where the executive jobs in private equity are expected to be moving into the new year, we asked ON Partners consultants to offer observations and insights on the executive jobs they expect to be in demand in 2022 across various market sectors.
Following is our list of C-level and executive jobs expected to be in demand in the coming year in the technology, consumer, and supply chain sectors. According to ON consultants who provided input for the Top Jobs list, the critical importance of the customer experience, the supply chain crisis, and ongoing digital transformation efforts are among the key factors expected to drive executive hiring in the coming year.
ON Partners’ list of Top Executive Jobs for 2022 includes:
Bringing together the right executive leadership team to unlock a brand’s potential has never been more critical, especially as the demand for leadership talent increases moving into 2022. Assembling a board team with the right mix of experience and perspectives has arguably never been more important to the success of an organization.
Diversity continues to be a high priority for boards. As more professional retained searches occur vs. “personal network” board hires, the onboarding process and time to be fully open and trusted is lengthened.
This has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, where the personal time to build rapport and deepen relationships has been diminished.
Also, fewer restrictions currently exist around “CEO or big P&L experience only may apply.”
Formal board skill assessments are increasingly common as well, which results in targeting functional leaders in high demand such as sitting chiefs of marketing, digital, or security. In privately-held growth companies, VCs and founders are landing independent directors earlier… post-round B or C…not just in time for the S1 filing.
New opportunities have emerged through the pandemic. The versatile CFO who truly understands the business and is an approachable business partner can drive operational excellence and sometimes accelerated strategic investments that are game-changing. At the same time, the discipline and cadence around corporate reporting, resource allocation, and cash and financial enablement will continue to be essential.
COVID-19 has exposed the massive gap between companies with strong finance leaders and those that have waited to build a proper set of controls.
Also, as businesses shift to a more distributed model, it’s opened up resource pools in other lower-cost geographies. The CFOs and leaders who have invested in other, non-traditional markets will have an advantage given their unique perspective on the continued evolution of a corporate workforce.
ON has experienced an 80% increase in engagements for marketing-related executive roles this past year, mainly in response to companies coming out of 2020 with an increased spend on brand, customer acquisition, and growth strategies across B2C and B2B organizations.
The marketing demand is expected to continue into 2022 as companies quickly invest in more advanced digital transformation and automation strategies across their marketing, communication and customer experience teams.
Over the last few years, companies have had to adjust their marketing approach to respond to the evolving customer expectations of brand transparency and personalization in their messaging strategies.
With growth and PE firms deploying capital at record-setting rates, the need for key executives to lead these companies is vital – and product and digital leadership roles are at the top of the list going into 2022.
In 2021, ON experienced 86% growth in executive search engagements in this funtional area.
Many businesses are broadening the scope of responsibility for these leaders to improve agility and responsiveness in this rapidly changing environment.
While the OP role is typically a step before retirement given the level of experience needed, operating partners are working harder now than ever before, balancing the role of coach with being deep in the weeds of three or four companies in a hyper-competitive environment.
With PE firms flush with cash and competing with SPACs for a limited number of deals, the OP role has arguably never been more important – and demanding.
This is causing big increases in deal sizes, so having an OP who knows the ins and outs of a business provides a significant differentiator. Given the competition and high valuations, this is putting more pressure to maximize current portfolio companies/valuations, which makes the OP role even more in demand.
With consumers expecting products on the shelf when they want it and delivery in 2-3 days if not sooner, retailers that are poised to win are those focused on delivering on an outstanding customer experience from dream and shop to delivery.
A comprehensive effort across marketing, sales, product and customer service will ensure customers know what to expect.
From “shop early favorite customer” messages via email to delivery times being clearly communicated in the checkout path for an online purchase, winning retailers will find multiple touchpoints for communication along the customer journey.
The emphasis on sales operations continues to grow into a much broader and strategic role, and some companies are now referring to these jobs as “go to market operations” and/or “sales productivity.” While this has traditionally been the responsibility of finance, this role is now becoming more of a business partner to the chief revenue officer, moving from revenue measurement to setting up the metrics, better sales compensation systems, and being one of the key drivers in predicting revenue on a quarterly/yearly basis.
In addition, to differentiate themselves, PE firms are increasingly hiring specialists such as sales leaders, sales ops leaders and CTOs, focusing more on the operational aspects of running portfolio companies.
The big question that continues to grow across the playbook of an organization and is especially higher in demand coming out of 2021 is what can be automated and how we can use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to replace, augment and accelerate human decision making to more quickly serve customers.
We even saw companies add AI/ML talent to their board, showing that this is a strategic imperative going forward.
Adding these skills to the supply chain functional team has become paramount across many ON clients.
This year has been intense in the supply chain talent space, as companies are reeling to recover from pandemic shutdowns and post-pandemic demand spikes.
The evolution of the digital supply chain was already in progress, but the pandemic forced companies to move there more quickly.
The pandemic has exposed weak leaders and many organizations are now focused on replacing those weak links. Leaders who are poised for success in the current environment can run toward a fire and face ambiguity with energy, optimism and inspiration.
They must be functional experts who have built careers on relationships; ideally they have worked abroad and understand how Asian-based manufacturers work.
They are familiar with current supply chain issues there and can anticipate future challenges ahead. There is also intense demand for executives experienced in technology advances in planning and product allocation, as well as strategic approach to flexible manufacturing capacity, container management and transportation management.
Because we’re now seeing just how much relationships really matter in supply chain, there is also high demand for executive-level transportation executives and heads of logistics who know air, carriers, ocean and parcel, and have deep relationships with all of those players.
When COVID hit, one Fortune 10 client that had been beating up its suppliers for the past 10 years lost a key supplier that gave its business to another company with which they had a strong positive relationship.
ON Partners propels an organization’s mission by building C-level and board leadership teams. Founded in 2006 by like-minded consultants as a values-driven alternative to the multi-service global firms they were leaving behind, ON delivers a better executive search experience. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists eight times, the firm is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S. For more information, see our results here.