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School for CEOs research launched in Edinburgh in association with PwC

2 November 2016

Report shows that technology overtakes environment as major focus for CEOs of tomorrow

Technology and digital will be the biggest driver of change over the next 5-10 years. That is the finding of the latest research report published by School for CEOs.

The report findings were discussed by invited guests and a panel of School for CEOs Faculty members – Rob Woodward, Chief Executive, STV; Crawford Gillies, Chairman, Control Risks International Ltd; and Rosemary McGinness, Group HR Director, William Grant & Sons Ltd. The panel was completed by Michael Moore, Senior Advisor at PwC and former Cabinet minister.

The audience heard the research also concludes that agility will be an essential characteristic for any future CEO tackling technological change and that Millennials would drive demographic change.

Almost 70 Chairs and HR Directors of a number of the UK’s leading companies participated in the research designed to find out what people can do now that will prepare them to be a CEO for a dynamic and changing future. The respondents spoke of how the business environment is changing. While technology was the most significant driver of change sitting at 71%, the list also includes:

Globalisation 35%
Demographic 32%
Politics 29%
Regulation 15%
Natural Environment 5%

David Sole founded School for CEOs with colleague Patrick Macdonald to help organisations prepare individuals for senior leadership positions and strengthen their succession pipeline. He said: ‘Our contributors spoke candidly about how the business world is changing and what is causing those changes. They revealed some of the changes needed to be a CEO in the future and how that relates to the changing business environment. Finally, they described how current and prospective Chief Executives could best prepare for that future.

‘While technology featured highly and at the forefront of respondents’ minds, what was perhaps more surprising was that, given the profile of climate change and renewable energy, only 5% of our respondents considered that it is a key driver of change over the next 10-15 years.’

Patrick Macdonald added: ‘We were delighted to have had such an influential panel. Each was quite candid during our Q&A and supported the view from the research that the range of issues the modern CEO has to deal with are both complex and fast moving. It is clear from the outcomes and the discussion that tomorrow’s CEO is going to have to work even harder and move even faster to keep ahead of the curve.’

The research was undertaken at the time of the Brexit referendum. The respondents were drawn from quoted, private equity backed and family companies and represent all sectors of business.

For more details on School for CEOs and the next programme, vis; call 0131 225 5886 or email


Further information:
Elaine Howie, School for CEOs
0131-225 5886 or 07720 442 881


  1. A full list of respondents appears on pages 6 and 7 in the report
  2. For a copy of the full report, please contact Elaine Howie, details above
  3. The School for CEOs is an innovative concept in executive education. It was founded in 2011 by: Patrick Macdonald, Chairman of Reconomy, Chairman & Chief Executive of Inenco Group Ltd and former Chief Executive of John Menzies plc; and David Sole OBE, business coach and former international rugby captain.


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