Across all industries, the most in-demand C-suite officers for 2015 are those with expertise in sales strategy, innovation, and security, a global leadership recruiting firm says.

The firm, Korn Ferry, published “Korn Ferry’s Top 15 for 2015: The Most In-Demand C-Level Positions for The Year Ahead,” late last week, basing the list on views of its senior executive search consultants queried in October and November 2014.

The top five most in-demand positions on the list are:

  • Chief Commercial (Revenue) Officer
  • Chief Innovation Officer
  • Chief Digital Officer
  • Chief Cyber Security Officer
  • Chief Sustainability Officer

Listed positions are at the C-level and based on Korn Ferry’s incoming executive search requests from across the globe, as well as a composite of qualitative forecasts and analysis by its senior search consultants.

With a global focus across all industries including the technology, health care, capital markets, energy and industrial sectors, neither the Korn Ferry Top 15 list nor the accompanying report is specific to property/casualty insurance or financial services. A scan of C-suite titles by Carrier Management across leading P/C companies suggests that the exact title, “Chief Commercial Officer,” is unlikely in fact. The title of a P/C executive taking on the role described in Korn Ferry’s report might instead be “Chief Strategy Officer” or leader (president or executive vice president) of Business Development.

The trends captured by the Top 15 titles, however, appear as relevant to P/C insurance as to other industries, however. These include an increased emphasis on:

  • Sales/Rainmakers

“The need for top-line growth has made strong marketing and sales executives indispensable,” the report says. “Executives that can drive revenue are in the driver’s seat for C-level marketing and sales positions.”

  • Security

According to Korn Ferry, security issues are driving the need for executives in data and cyber security, along with the need to meet compliance standards.

“Executives who can create and manage systems to stay ahead of cybercrime as well as meet security issues in capital markets are in short supply,” the report says.

  • Engaging customers

The report notes the tremendous pose that today’s consumers having in their choices.

“Engagement goes beyond revenue growth and focuses on creating distinct consumer preferences and meaningful brand experiences. For this reason, demand has increased for executives with the know-how to create engagements.”

Specifically referring to the “Chief Commerical Officer” title, the report notes that surveys that Korn Ferry has conducted with global executives over the course of the past year also support the forecasts of the recruiting firm’s internal consultants. Asked what would cause them to hire more aggressively, executives respond overwhelmingly, “consumer demand.”

“Companies have spent the last few years disproportionately focused on cost cutting. With consumer demand now increasing (slowly), companies have had to shift to an external growth focus.

“The Chief Commercial Officer, or Chief Revenue Officer used to be the VP of Sales. Today, this position has been elevated—these executives must find new salespeople, new markets and new partnerships to grow,” the report says.

Commenting on some of the other Top 5 titles, Korn Ferry says:

Chief Innovation Officers must understand and embrace the pace of change and find ways to grow though innovation.”

Chief Digital Officers “are digitizing legacy applications, or rapidly enabling new apps for utilization on mobile devices. They also play a key role in orchestrating social media strategy. …The CDO masterminds winning strategies to drive engagement and sales in a chain reaction of people influencing people.”

Rounding out the Korn Ferry’s top 15 in-demand list for the C-suite, in no particular order, are the following titles:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Human Resource Officer
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Chief Medical Officer
  • Chief Risk Officer
  • COO, Manufacturing
  • COO, Energy
  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Executive Director of Development/Funding

Commenting on the CEO position, Korn Ferry notes in the report that “in an age of functional specialization, the majority of executives are now focused narrowly, leaving fewer generalists with a broad background who can be groomed and ready to assume the role of CEO.

“This has created a shortage of those who are qualified,” the report says.

As for CHROs, the role now encompasses a growing challenge related to motivating the next generation of leadership. This will require CHROs to be more creative in their thinking than ever before.

“Millennials are not driven by money; our evaluations of millions of executive candidates often conclude that challenge and mission are key motivators. That has redefined the mission of today’s CHRO to keep Millennials engaged—for the long term,” the report says.

The full report, with a discussion of the remaining C-suite positions, is available here.

Source: Korn Ferry