November 13, 2023 – With the ever-increasing pace of technological change and shifting workforce demographics, is it any wonder that C-suite roles at large enterprise firms are changing too? Several new roles have appeared in the last few years that reflect these technological, economic, and social challenges, while several traditional roles are also evolving and becoming more prominent, according to a new report from Sheffield Haworth. What are the key trends shaping the C-suite of the future that organizations should be aware of? To answer that question, this study focuses on some of the most dynamic and in-demand roles in this changing business landscape.
In particular, it explores how the roles of chief product officer (CPO), Chief revenue officer (CRO), chief growth officer (CGO), chief culture officer (CCO), and chief AI officer (CAIO) are evolving, using real-world examples from fintech, technology, financial services, professional services and private markets.
Chief Product Officers: Pioneering Innovation
Chief product officers are at the forefront of driving innovation in today’s corporate landscape, according to the Sheffield Haworth report. The firm says that they play a crucial role in shaping a company’s product strategy, ensuring it aligns with market trends and customer demands.
“Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful organization,” said Alex Cormack, group managing director at Sheffield Haworth. “Chief product officers are instrumental in identifying market gaps and driving product development to meet evolving customer expectations, and we are increasingly seeing our clients are evolving their leadership teams with these customer centric positions.”
The Sheffield Haworth report points to a real-world example of the importance of the CPO is Amazon, which has had the same senior vice president of devices and services since 2010. “Given that the CPO’s portfolio includes some of the most prominent devices launched in the last 13 years – Alexa, Echo, Kindle, Fire TV, Fire tablets, Halo, Ring, Blink, Day 1 Editions, Amazon Key, and Amazon Appstore, to name a few – this consistency is a great example of the positive impact a great CPO can have – not just on the bottom line, but on brand reputation and brand equity,” the report said.
Chief Revenue Officers: Maximizing Revenue Streams
“If innovation is vital to the role of a CPO, it’s also true for revenue,” the Sheffield Haworth report said. “The last 20 years has seen a real shift towards subscription-based revenue models, from Salesforce’s revolutionary cloud-based CRM to streaming services that killed off the video rental market. As a result, chief revenue officers have come to the fore, in a role that marries strategy, sales, customer support, even pricing. It’s a role that bridges the gap between operations, finance, and sales, and has only grown in importance.”
Predicting 2024’s Talent Acquisition Trends
No individual can see the future clearly. But when we blend the expert views of global talent leaders with comprehensive data, it becomes clearer. It’s this powerful combination of insights that fuels Korn Ferry’s annual talent acquisition trends report. Each year the search firm, which is the largest globally as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media, lays out recruitment trends and talent trends you will be seeing in the coming year and offers advice on how to stay ahead of them. “In 2024, it’s your skills that count,” the Korn Ferry report said. “It’s a big win for diversity, equity and inclusion. And widening the talent pool will bring big advantages to organizations. With so many skills gaps to close, we expect businesses to focus on the skills they need to bring on and develop now.”
The report explains that Salesforce itself is a great example of the importance of the CRO, having appointed Miguel Milano as combined president and chief revenue officer since August this year. In this role, Mr. Milano is responsible for accelerating customer success “by leading worldwide sales and distribution of Salesforce products and services”, as his company bio says.
Chief Growth Officers: Capturing Untapped Potential
“Initially a role created by media agencies, today chief growth officers have become increasingly crucial in several sectors, among them technology, software, and private markets,” Sheffield Haworth report. “Many of our financial investment clients have adopted the CGO role as they look to identify more growth opportunities, whether through organic growth, M&A, or strategic partnerships.”
The report also notes that the appointment in May this year of Amber Hilkene as partner and chief growth officer at mid-market private equity firm Stanley Capital Partners shows the extent to which the CGO role is becoming increasingly influential at all levels within private markets.
Chief Culture Officers: Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture
Attracting and retaining top talent is as vital in the tech, IT consulting, and fintech sectors as any other, according to the Sheffield Haworth report. “But it’s also much harder and more competitive, which is why company culture is so important,” it said. “It’s an essential part of a company’s value proposition to top talent in a market where high salaries just aren’t enough on their own.”
Sheffield Haworth points to Google as a great example of a trendsetter when it comes to making culture a strategic priority. Stacy Savides Sullivan has been VP, people operations and chief culture officer at the company for 24 years. The search firms says that with such an early and consistent commitment to the importance of company culture, is it any wonder that Google has so often been ranked as one of the best companies in the world to work for?
“The CCO role is integral in aligning the values and mission of the firm with ways of working,” said Helen Tudor, managing director and global DEI lead at Sheffield Haworth. “The CCO aligns purpose with processes and shows employees that their contributions matter to the organization’s success. We are seeing this gain prominence in our clients, particularly in response to a more global workforce.”
Chief AI Officers: Harnessing the Power of AI with NVIDIA
Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to transform all industries, particularly fintech and tech. Chief AI Officers (CAIOs) oversee the integration of AI technologies, leveraging data-driven insights for strategic advantage.
Mr. Cormack underscores the emerging trend of AI-specific leadership roles: “Generative AI is no longer a buzzword but a strategic imperative for firms to harness the technology for greater innovation and more streamlined processes. chief AI officers play a critical role in harnessing AI’s potential for their respective organizations.”
The CAIO is one of the newest roles in this list. Futurist Bernhard Marr argues that every company should have a CAIO, while key real-world examples include Gargi Banerjee Dasgupta at IBM, Mei May Soo at Dell Technologies, and Sulabh Soral at the Deloitte AI Institute in the U.K.
“While NVIDIA doesn’t yet have a CAIO – despite being a pioneer in AI and GPU technology – CEO Jensen Huang has in many ways adopted the responsibilities of the role and firmly established the company as a key player in the AI ecosystem,” the report said.
These real-world examples from industry leaders demonstrate how the roles of CPO, CRO, CGO, CCO, and CAIO have already become integral to an organization’s success, according to the Sheffield Haworth report. “The future belongs to companies that embrace change and innovation, and supporting our clients as they navigate new and emerging technology, business processes, and innovative work practices is a reflection of our commitment to staying ahead of the curve and supporting our clients with their human capital requirements,” said Mr. Cormack. “Incorporating these roles strategically can position organizations for long-term success and ensure they remain competitive in an ever-evolving business landscape.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media