Optimism is back in the boardroom

With the engines of the economy firing on all cylinders again and most restrictions that impacted our daily lives lifted, KPMG has returned with the annu the latest edition of our CEO Outlook survey to gauge how leadership strategies and concerns have shifted during these demanding times. We found that CEOs, around the world and in Saudi Arabia, are confident in the growth prospects of their company and the economy in general. They feel a strong connection to their organization’s purpose and are looking to expand their business to emerge stronger.

Drawing on the perspectives of 1,325 chief executives around the world – including 50 in Saudi Arabia, this year’s survey offers a lens on how today’s connected CEOs are increasingly plugged-in, putting people-first and led by purpose. Overall, three themes emerged: the road to renewal and leaders’ optimism about the path to growth, the importance of following through on a trusted purpose by driving bold environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs, and the determination of CEOs to instill new levels of digital agility.

Key findings

Today’s connected CEOs — those who are purpose-led and prepared for growth — embrace tough leadership challenges. They can deliver on their purpose commitments, making the ESG investments and changes necessary to address inequality and launch the race to net zero.

They look to drive growth and prosperity through digital agility and business model innovation, while aiming to ensure aggressive technology investments are matched by investment in human capabilities and skills. They pursue purpose to drive profitability and long-term growth while also recognizing their wider responsibilities to planet and people.

  • CEOs in Saudi Arabia are optimistic, confident and expect aggressive growth through acquisitions and other inorganic methods. They continue to put an emphasis on inorganic growth and digital investments, while upskilling an agile workforce in the new world of work.
  • With increased stakeholder pressure, CEOs in the Kingdom are supercharged to increase investment into ESG priorities and to double down on the purpose of their organizations. 92% of CEOs has shifted the focus to the social component of ESG as a result of their response to the pandemic.
  • With people returning to places of work, and society increasingly looking for business to lead a return to normal, CEOs in Saudi Arabia are shying away from making wholesale changes to the future of work — but they recognize employee demand for continued flexibility.