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What wakes you in the middle of the night in a cold sweat?

Ask any CEO and they will tell you they have woken in the middle of the night in a cold sweat anxious about how to fix what appears to be the unfixable and with no one to talk to about it............ Over the past three years and numerous discussions with CEOs, we have identified a list which clearly is not inclusive but merely indicative of what CEOs would love to talk to others about.....

Succession is coming, it’s inevitable and I want to play more golf....

Across Australia the baby boomers want to go sailing or play more golf, travel or just relax at the beach house, yet invariably there has been little real planning for this inevitability. Dad started the business twenty to thirty years ago, the family members joined early, none of them took any tertiary qualifications and have learnt to do business ‘the way dad does it’. Now this process of convenience is looking increasingly shaky, key customers are not convinced that the next generation has what it takes to secure their success in the future and are looking around for more sustainable solutions.

So what are the founders of these companies doing about it/ They appointing General Managers, sending their siblings out to get experience elsewhere, engaging a board of advisors, and struggling to let go!!

How do I attract and retain quality staff when there is such pressure from both different attitudes to work and the mining industry stripping out resources?

Our CEOs saw the attraction and retention of quality staff, in the face of unemployment hovering around 5% (which has historically been seen to be full employment) as a real struggle.

The value proposition is entirely one directional. Employees can pick and choose as there are now more jobs than quality employees and attitudes of younger people to work are changing across Australia and the world. This is a challenge of leadership and presenting the business as ‘the employer of preference’.

Acquiring sustainable value across the value chain

We frequently heard CEOs reflect on how to achieve efficiencies within their business and supply chain – reducing staff, screwing down suppliers and increasing prices. Yet what we observed was those who are having boom years in these tough times are invariably more focused on their effectiveness in acquiring value from diversification of their business model than merely down-sizing or stripping value from suppliers and customers.

The world is a big place and frightening competitiveness is prevailing

Australia is emerging from its isolation of the 20th Century with our currency, markets and consumers open to global markets with accelerating global connectedness. Adapting to these changes has CEOs worried about whether they have the right leadership skills to sustain their businesses into the next decade or two. How to plan for sustainability over the next twenty five years is a question many companies are failing to ask in the face of immediate threats; yet global competitors think and act in these terms and so must Australian CEOs

Carbon price or tax

Yes the forthcoming carbon price or tax is worrying CEOs in the face of other existing pressures such as fluctuating global currencies.

Yet in the longer term, regardless of government intervention, it doesn’t matter whether it is a price or a tax; what matters is how Australian companies respond to the global trend away from carbon based economies and products.

Whether you’re a wine maker reviewing the role of cork as a carbon sink versus aluminium caps with its carbon footprint during production or a printing company using green paper or a shoe manufacturer recycling rubber there are enormous pressures on companies to identify and capture value through carbon reducing opportunities, processes and products.

By Frank Wyatt