What leaders think
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Beating the norms – or here today gone tomorrow…

May CEO Notes

We had the pleasure to host some incredible Leaders at our latest CEO lunch. Over coffee, we asked our guests their advice and thoughts on:

The key six takeaways are:

  • Geopolitics is moving to the top of many Board agendas in dealing with both short and longer term issues. 2024 is the election year of the decade for nearly a third of the world’s population. When coupled with the other ‘new norms’ (such as disruption of global trading routes, wars, inflation etc) it becomes a complex environment in which to succeed. Corporate agility, proactive risk mitigation and building resilience are all cited as common themes for success and competitive advantage.
  • Changing governments, with the UK being a prime example, usually represents a time of near standstill in decision making, potential policy ‘U turns’ and delayed investment in many areas.  A classic case is the differing political perspectives of future North Sea investment, not just for fossil fuels but how to accelerate the energy transition in a pragmatic, market led manner – which is realistic and affordable. Governments needs to work more closely with industry to achieve this. The initiatives and education must come from the private sector.
  • In any sector, if businesses cannot gain policy clarity, regulation consistency or confidence over stewardship, their interest and investments may go overseas. The UK Government must understand it is in competition with other countries. For example, the lighter touch regulation approach in the USA in various markets, is appealing to many European companies, who find operating in home markets is sometimes more complex and expensive than internationally.
  • The corporate mindset and leadership agility has advanced over the past decade. Currently, the ability and confidence to make decisions where uncertainty prevails has improved. Proactive risk management is now a given. This should be coupled with astute market positioning, being a fast scaler or a structured first mover to exploit new opportunities, which are not necessarily obvious or high risk.
  • Energy prices have remained remarkably stable (notwithstanding the spikes during early 2022) at ‘only’ c. $80 per barrel. OPEC+ discipline has played its part and global economic armageddon didn’t happen. At the same time, we have learnt that energy supply and affordability are priorities over sustainability and decarbonisation. We have witnessed this at both the national and corporate levels. Who is going to pay for net zero?
  • Finally, on a lighter note, the pub industry always benefits from turmoil, as people like to have something to share over a pint! The high demand for post Covid ‘revenge travel’ has out stripped all but the most optimistic forecasts. Though the actual travel experience in some cases remains open for improvement as customer care is lacking. This opens opportunities for forward thinking companies to exploit this and build customer differentiation at relatively low cost.

2024 is already proving to be an interesting year. Some of the electoral consequences are currently being played out in ways none of us foresaw. Europe is moving further to the centre Right than anticipated and the outcome in the November USA elections remains an open question both in terms of winning party and the right person to lead the country.

The global economy may not be booming, but it is far from broken. Savvy companies are reaping the benefits of taking measured risk and exploiting market opportunities. We need to look no further than Apple’s deal with OpenAI – this represents a relatively low risk, fast scaler move. At time of writing, the positive financial market response to this has propelled Apple’s share price by 12% in 3 days and increased market cap by $270 bn to $3.3 trillion.

Acknowledgments:


Hoggett Bowers are very grateful to all our guests and a special thank you to:

Aldo GoviPresident and CEOInfineum International Ltd
Ben Palmer, OBEPresidentViasat
Carl ArntzenCEOBosch Thermotechnology Ltd
Dr Carole NakhleCEOCrystol Energy
Chris JowseyCEOAdmiral Taverns
Jo GrettonCEOTelent
Kelly MacfarlaneMDHWM Water Limited
Kevin DevlinCEORenewable Power Capital
Matthieu HueCEOEDF Renewables UK
Mick FarrCEOTriton Power
Neil McDermottCEOLow Carbon Contracts
Owen MichaelsonCEOEncyclis
Ruth BoumphreyChief ExecutiveLloyd’s Register Foundation