Top Executive Jobs for 2020

Customer experience, automation and ongoing digital transformation efforts will play critical roles in hiring next year, according to a new report from On Partners. Cultivating a strong internal culture will also prove vital.

January 2, 2020 – ON Partners has unveiled its Top Jobs 2020 report, a bespoke list of C-suite and executive level jobs expected to be in demand in the coming year. Included are roles in the technology, consumer, life sciences, supply chain and industrial sectors. According to ON consultants nationwide who provided input for the Top Jobs list, the critical importance of the customer experience, automation and ongoing digital transformation efforts are among the key factors expected to drive hiring in the coming year.

“Across industry sectors, the focus on the customer experience has never been more paramount, and organizations are also realizing that cultivating a strong internal culture can prove to be make or break, especially in this economy,” said Marc Gasperino, partner at ON Partners. “In addition, emerging technologies are driving the need for positions in various markets that can address all that these technologies are enabling.”

ON Partners’ list of Top Executive Jobs for 2020 includes:

Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Design

Consumers are accustomed to the ease of interacting with digital-native brands like Amazon, Google and Netflix and continue to seek the same experiences when dealing with other aspects of their daily lives – and studies show that 25 percent of customers defect from a brand after just one bad experience. Companies now seek customer experience and design executives who can not only gather insights into customer preferences and future trends, said ON Partners, but also have the ability to elevate conversations about these strategies to the C-suite and board of directors.

Chief Culture Officer

“Studies have shown a connection between culture and financial performance, reputation and employee attitude,” the report said. “As employee and business needs continue to evolve, the need for an executive focused exclusively on creating and maintaining the corporate culture has never been more critical.”

Chief Transformation Officer

Making its second appearance on the list, this position remains critical as organizations across all sectors seek professionals who can guide them through their digital transformations. Along with other roles associated with enabling companies to become more digital, this job is likely to remain in demand for the foreseeable future.

Vice President, Customer Success

“Customer success is the new sales,” said Danny Bolger, vice president at ON Partners. “In SaaS in particular, winning new customers proves extremely difficult, so once they’re on board, companies must do everything in their power to retain them, especially since customers can often leave with no associated penalty. Engaged customers who understand how to use a product are far more likely to stay, recommend the product and continue to pay for it,” he said. “This position requires someone with an obsession about creating the best customer experience possible and relies heavily on data to ensure a positive experience and drive sales decisions. The function typically reports to the CRO or head of worldwide sales, sometimes finance.”


Upbeat Hiring Plans Heading Into the New Year
U.S. employers expect the hiring pace to remain steady into the first 90 days of 2020 though regional and industry forecasts are mixed, according to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey,” released by ManpowerGroup. Employers in all U.S. regions and industry sectors said they were expecting headcount to grow.


“Customer success is transitioning from a function to a core principle of successful SaaS businesses,” said Jake Espenlaub, vice president at ON Partners. “Retaining and growing existing customers is now more important than net new revenue, and post-sale experience is the key to keeping a high level of trust and retention with your customers. Similar to a consumer’s favorite hotel brand, or clothing line, if the experience continues to be personalized and efficient, you’ll keep customers that will pay you for life.”

Director, Human Enhancement

By implanting or hosting a technology element in the human body, such as a wearable device, physical augmentation has the power to change our inherent physical capabilities. According to Gartner: “Cognitive augmentation can occur through accessing information and exploiting applications on traditional computer systems and the emerging multi-experience interface in smart spaces.” As physical augmentation becomes more widespread, the need is increasing for experts who can oversee strategy, development and implementation of these devices.

Vice President, Robotics

Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba aren’t the only companies using autonomous robots that move materials. “An increasing number of manufacturers are adopting bots, especially as finding humans to perform tasks is becoming more difficult,” the ON report said. “With pay being low and tasks being performed faster and safer by robots, the use of robots use will only increase in the coming years – as will the need for talent who can manage them.”

Vice President, 3D Design

The manufacturing applications for 3D scanning are endless: Virtual parts warehouses, additive manufacturing, reverse engineering and quality inspections, to name a few. Bringing onboard someone who is capable of managing all that is key as 3D usage becomes increasingly mainstream.

“The supply chain continues to be a driver for strategic competitive advantage across industries,” said Heidi Hoffman, partner at ON Partners. “Eliminating waste, improving productivity and managing one’s impact on the environment have been and will continue to be critical focal areas across the supply chain. As our economy becomes increasingly focused on green initiatives and digitization, the supply chain will continue to evolve and develop new roles to help companies achieve their strategic goals.”

Vice President, IoT and AI

With supply chain management able to serve as a competitive differentiator – and keep customers loyal to a particular brand – ON Partners said significant effort must be placed on keeping software up to date. With the Internet of Things (IoT) predicted to lead to a 15 percent productivity increase in the delivery and supply chain industry, logistics experts are using the new resource to enhance supply networks, reduce costs and generate new revenue streams. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) has the ability to solve inefficiencies, as it reduces time and money spent while speeding up processes, and can be used to automate lower-level decision-making and balance supply with forecasted demand.

Related: Companies Hiring on Basis of Skills Rather Than Open Positions

Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO)

Traditionally considered a supporting role in the C-suite, the CSCO will become increasingly pivotal in how organizations maneuver through the digital economy, said the report. The individual in this role will address major issues such as increasing tariff restrictions, using the supply chain in novel ways and delivering experiences and outcomes that engage customers and grow business.

Vice President, Sustainability

Logistics companies are increasingly integrating sustainability efforts into their overall strategy, motivated by protecting the environment and eliminating pollution. This “green logistics” trend will not only help the environment, but it will boost corporate reputations, lower supply chain costs and increase customer loyalty.

Chief Medical Officer

Although funding in the biotech space in 2019 wasn’t as robust as in 2018, the market for experienced clinical development leaders – especially chief medical officers – continues to be red hot and should continue through 2020.


The Upskilling Deadlock to Continue in 2020
Research has revealed a paradox at the heart of current debates around upskilling. On the one hand, the vast majority of U.S. workers believe it’s imperative to train for and develop new skills in order to keep up with changes in the workplace. On the other, that same contingent of workers also say that neither government nor employers bear primary responsibility for providing them with those skills. So who needs to step up? According to a report by Randstad, that question won’t be put to bed in 2020, but it’s almost certainly going to come up, in one form or another, as a talking point in the 2020 presidential election.


“As emerging new technologies in cell therapy, gene therapy and gene editing now move forward into the clinic, these traditional discovery and platform technology oriented companies are seeking the build out of their development organizations under a strong clinical leader,” said Steve Cornacchia, partner at the search firm.

Head of Data Management

“In the early stages of data management, it was difficult for data analysts to gather, organize and interpret information that is pertinent for life sciences research and system operations,” the ON Partners report said. “The innovation of cloud management will enable data management professionals to easily collect and interpret information for improved life science practices. Data use spans myriad applications, from transforming diagnoses to improving outcomes to R&D – all of which require experts who can harness and interpret the information.”

Vice President, Genetics

With an increase in the use of genetic information to assess and treat disorders, as well as gene technology enabling researchers to identify genome sequences that predict disorders, ON said, organizations need professionals who are able to manage these activities.

Head of mHealth/Wearables

With wearable medical devices increasingly being used to measure not just clinical indicators but quality of life, their use is expected to grow as the consumerization of healthcare continues. According to Deloitte: “The new clinician/patient partnership is based on improved awareness, self-management and prevention strategies, replacing the paternalistic approach of old.”

Senior Vice President, Emerging Markets

The ON Partners report said that “new healthcare markets beyond Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) – including Latin America, Vietnam, Indonesia and Africa – are incubating new business models and leading in the development of new drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are establishing brands for these markets, allowing more locally tailored pricing models, while preventing parallel trade.”

Related: Skills Shortages Causing Recruiting Difficulties

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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