From the Managing Partner

Welcome to our sixth annual KPMG CEO Outlook

It’s been roughly 18 months since the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic, and as society cautiously reopens, I’m pleased to share with you KPMG’s annual CEO survey.  It gauges how leadership strategies and concerns have shifted during these demanding times and it allows for timely comparisons between CEOs in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and their global peers.

CEOs are confident about growth prospects in their own markets and express optimism about the global economy in general. Their belief in the three-year outlook for their businesses is also clear, albeit that their growth expectations remain measured. Importantly, they have reaffirmed the vital role of the office at the heart of their businesses. In doing so, they also recognise that the world of work demands flexibility and trust in order to attract and retain talented people and that the pandemic has reshaped the workplace for the foreseeable future.

Business leaders are also looking to expand their business and organisations however they can, and our report shows a strong appetite for M&A and other inorganic growth strategies. Such positivity is tempered by an acute awareness of risk and concerns about operational matters such as supply chain resilience, cyber security, and digital disruption.

A major lesson from the pandemic is the value in working together to solve big problems, and importantly, ESG matters are front and centre in most business plans. Climate in particular has assumed an importance as extreme weather events underscore the need for decisive, worldwide action on zero carbon strategies. The importance of the forthcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow and the need for significant government intervention to help deliver climate solutions is reinforced by the sentiment highlighted in our report.

We may not be back to business as usual — especially with the threat of new variants and what that may mean for growth. But like the many CEOs we interviewed in Ireland and around the world, I share their measured optimism, and I would like to thank them for taking the time to participate in our survey. 

The KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook offers a unique lens on the ongoing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospects for economic recovery both in Ireland and around the globe and draws on perspectives for the future from over 1,300 CEOs at home and abroad.

Read the report by chapter