The top challenges facing CEOs in 2024

From climate change to global conflict, business leaders have a smorgasbord of disruptive issues to contend with, but what do our Raconteur 50 members see as top of the list?

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It is a scary time to be leading a business, it would seem. Coming into 2024, 45% of global CEOs told PwC that their organisation would no longer be economically viable in 10 years’ time if it continues on its current course. 

Another survey, conducted by Deloitte in February 2024, found that only 27% of CEOs feel optimistic about the global economy. Respondents broadly agree that geopolitical instability poses the greatest threat to their business strategy this year, but international conflict is by no means the only risk that they identified. New regulation, high inflation, the skills shortage and environmental matters joined cyber risks and supply chain troubles on CEOs’ list of worries. 

We spoke with some of the members of the Raconteur 50 to find out what they believe to be the biggest challenges facing CEOs in 2024 – and how they plan on tackling them.

Zahra Bahrololoumi 
CEO at Salesforce UK 

The potential impact of AI continues to represent new opportunities and challenges for CEOs in 2024.

AI is ushering in a new economic era, revolutionising how businesses interact with customers and this incoming wave of AI-first digital transformation is at the heart of the UK CEO agenda. Organisations are focused on how to use transformative technologies to drive growth and make efficiency gains. 

Yet, in the race to realise the AI opportunity, businesses are also aware of the risks including bias, accuracy and safety. As a digital advisor to some of the world’s biggest businesses, it is our responsibility to get AI right from the start. The AI revolution is also a trust revolution.

At Salesforce, we’ve been investing in ethical AI for over a decade and our Office of Ethical and Humane Use pioneers the use of ethics in technology. From ensuring teams represent diverse experiences to providing the right training, creating trusted technology is our number one priority. This is why every solution we offer our customers is informed by our Trusted AI Principles and supported by the Einstein Trust Layer.

Technology is a reflection of how it is developed so ultimately, we will get the AI we deserve. It’s incumbent on all of us that AI is trusted and becomes a force for good.

Radha Vyas 
CEO and co-founder of Flash Pack 

I think one of the biggest challenges facing CEOs this year is the question of how to attract and retain world-class talent. We live in a time where employees are rightfully more discerning than ever. People aren’t interested in an office with a foosball table, or talk of work/life balance that is little more than lip service. Instead, in an increasingly competitive and volatile job market, they’re looking for meaningful connection, and a sense of purpose and belonging.

As CEOs, we have to think carefully about the systems we build to nurture these values. What kind of benefits – such as pay transparency, remote working or unlimited mental health therapy – will help your team feel supported and heard? How can you empower each and every team member so that they are working to their strengths? And how do you get people fired up about making a lasting impact? I think these are the questions we need to face head-on, even when the answers are far from easy, in order to build a diverse, inclusive and thriving work culture.

Tessa Clarke 
CEO and co-founder of Olio 

In 2024 most venture-backed CEOs are grappling with the whiplash effect that comes from needing to operate in the new high-interest-rate era. This means that instead of focusing on building rocket ships, we need to focus on building cathedrals: truly sustainable businesses, with solid business fundamentals, whose impact will be felt for many generations to come. 

The era of burning cash in the pursuit of growth is long gone, and a very different set of management tools are now required. Leading your team and business through this transition will be challenging, but essential. 

Romi Savova 
CEO and founder of PensionBee 

Following on from Brexit, CEOs in Britain find ourselves in a landscape full of both challenges and opportunities for global business expansion. While the aftermath of Brexit introduced uncertainties, it also presented a chance for British CEOs to redefine their global footprint, tap into diverse markets, foster innovation, and embrace new-found agility in decision-making.

At PensionBee, we recently announced our proposed expansion to the US. This opportunity allows us to offer our innovative pension solutions to the world’s largest Defined Contribution pension market and aligns with our vision to live in a world where everyone can look forward to a happy retirement. 

We intend to leverage our knowledge and experience from the UK over the past decade, particularly to extend our technology, and tailor it to the local needs of the US market. This dual-market strategy not only diversifies our revenue streams but also positions us for sustained growth and innovation on a global scale.