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Senior Executives Predict a Recession within the Next 18 Months but Lack Preparedness, According to Russell Reynolds Associates Survey

The survey found that only 8 percent of C-suite executives surveyed feel "well prepared" for an economic slowdown 

NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Russell Reynolds Associates, a global leadership advisory and search firm, today announced the findings and recommendations from their study, Preparing for economic uncertainty: Are your operations teams ready? The study included input from over 500 key global C-suite executives to find out how concerned they are about a recession and whether that is translating into action. The study provides actionable insights that leaders can use to plan accordingly and emerge as winners during and after a possible slowdown.


The need for preparation to navigate a potential recession is clear based on how companies have performed during previous recessions, yet the survey found that while 96 percent of executives believe it somewhat probable or highly likely that a downturn will materialize over the coming 12 months, only 8 percent of those surveyed reported feeling "well prepared" for this.

"To counter a slowdown, one of the first steps CEOs can take to manage their business is to evaluate their operations, supply chain and finance functions," said Dr. Pascal Bécotte, co-lead of Russell Reynolds Associates' Global Operations & Supply Chain Officers Practice. "The downturn in 2008 illustrated that these functions were the first to be affected. COOs need to work with their CEOs and CFOs to ensure they look beyond just cost-cutting to pursue a balanced approach in order to recover more quickly following a recession."

Looking specifically at the operations function, the survey revealed that only 8 percent of senior operations and supply chain executives feel they are personally well prepared to navigate through a downturn, and only 5 percent feel their team is well prepared.

Russell Reynolds Associates recommends four critical steps for CEOs when preparing for a recession:

Develop a plan with the COO: Operations executives must understand where potential weaknesses are in their supply chain and develop plans for their teams to follow during a crisis.

Benefit from the unique position of the COO: COOs need to demonstrate the benefits of their unique point of view to the larger organization so that these plans can get the C-suite support they need.

Identify gaps in the team: The disruption from a downturn will require talent to be comfortable with agility and to be nimble, empowered to act and be able to quickly respond.

Address gaps with effective talent strategies, culture and leadership: Stress-test team capabilities to respond, execute plans, develop talent where needed and work toward the right culture for the team.

Russell Reynolds Associates surveyed 534 senior executives?including 179 CFOs, 148 CHROs and 79 executives currently or previously responsible for operations and supply chain functions?at companies around the globe and across industries. The survey uncovered predictions around the impact and possible timing should an economic downturn occur, as well as the level of preparation among CEOs and their teams.

About Russell Reynolds Associates
Russell Reynolds Associates is a global leadership advisory and search firm. Our 470+ consultants in 46 offices work with public, private and nonprofit organizations across all industries and regions. We help our clients build teams of transformational leaders who can meet today's challenges and anticipate the digital, economic and political trends that are reshaping the global business environment. From helping boards with their structure, culture and effectiveness to identifying, assessing and defining the best leadership for organizations, our teams bring their decades of expertise to help clients address their most complex leadership issues. We exist to improve the way the world is led. www.russellreynolds.com


Vijaya Singh

Russell Reynolds Associates



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