3 Ways Top C-Level Executives are Tackling Disruption

Community Blog
Written by Clare Ryan

JUNE 20, 2023

The continuous wave of digital, economic and socio-political disruptions is forever changing the business landscape - with the introduction of generative AI as one of the latest upheavals. According to Gartner research, only 29% of strategy leaders believe their organization can shift quickly enough to combat unforeseen challenges, opening generous opportunities for those that can crack the code.

Members of the C-suite often take on the role of “change leader” in the enterprise in an attempt to counter disruption. However, to see true business transformation, they must start with themselves. We asked Governing Body Members from our exclusive C-level communities the question, “With disruption being a key theme of recent years, where do you see your role going in the next 1-2 years?”

With almost 300 responses, we gathered first-hand insight into how executive leaders are thinking about and advancing their role to make an impact in the unpredictable marketplace. One thing is clear; disruption is the only point of certainty in the foreseeable future, and three themes emerged as pillars for the C-suite for the years ahead:

  1. Drive business value
  2. Embrace emerging technologies and innovation
  3. Be people-centric

Here, we are sharing observations and learnings from members of our CIO, CISO, CDAOCHRO and CFO communities.

Executive Leaders Must Focus on Driving Business Value

Business value is a major buzzword for 2023, and across the C-suite, executives continuously express how they need to let go of their “functional” thinking and approach their responsibilities from a business perspective.

I believe the role of the CDAO will become even more critical in the next 1-2 years. Its relevance to the CEO will grow, creating a tighter interlock between business strategy and data strategy.  Its ability to positively impact business performance will increase as data becomes the primary driver of value and differentiation.”

- Manish Dasaur, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Comms & Media NA, Accenture
Governing Body Member of the Southern California CDAO Community

The CIO role initially was a technology operations leadership role. It evolved into a business leadership role to protect and grow revenue. I see CIOs partnering to build new digital business models leveraging technology to bring in new revenue streams. It’s exciting that CIO roles are becoming increasingly vital to the business.”

- Siva Pothi, Chief Information Officer, Teleperformance
Governing Body Member of the Houston CIO Community

The CISO role must become an extension of the business. It cannot be the role of ‘no’ anymore. The role must drive value for the organization and help steer decision making towards the risk tolerance of the business.”

- Ben Smith, CISO, Nuvance Health
Governing Body Member of the New York CISO Community

The CIO role has already transitioned to become a lot more hands-on than ever before. True technical leadership is based on technical insight and strength. The future will see these roles go to individuals who are experts at commercially driving value from deep technical expertise.”

- Hena Jalil, CIO, BT Group 
Governing Body Member of the UK & Ireland CIO Community

Embrace Emerging Technologies and Innovation

To stay at the forefront of business, it is no surprise that the C-suite is looking to emerging technologies to increase operational efficiencies and productivity and drive growth for their organizations - their top two enterprise priorities for 2023 according to our annual Leadership Perspective Survey. What is surprising, however, is that the CHRO communities are some of the most fervent to discuss innovation in their responses.

The last few years have taught us that disruption and innovation, to a great extent, has been neglected in our space. Our seat at the table has not been more important than it is today in leading a successful company. The functional areas we lead have been notoriously antiquated and closed off. Our opportunity will be figuring out how we can reimagine our practice as we lead and operate with more transparency than ever before.”

- Kendall Harrell, Chief People Officer, Caribou Coffee
Governing Body Member of the Minneapolis CHRO Community

I expect CFOs to play an even more important role at facilitating industry innovation while laying the groundwork for disciplined and accountable growth. Increased funding costs are going to drive choices, and CFOs are in unique positions to ensure organizations are sound and set up for success.”

- Kelly Tuminelli, EVP & Chief Financial Officer, TriNet
Governing Body Member of the San Francisco CFO Community

I’ve seen CISOs fail in their careers, because they were not willing to embrace emerging technologies, such as big data and cloud computing. As modern day CISOs, we have to adapt to the latest trends of automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. - all of which have their own set of good and bad use cases.”

 - Daniel Nunez, Chief Information Security Officer, New York City Employees’ Retirement System
Governing Body Member of the New York CISO Community

Recently at NatWest, we’ve prioritised simplification and digitisation, placing emphasis on reducing duplication and creating smooth, digital first customer journeys. I think my role will continue to evolve with this trend, placing more focus on the digital skills for the future and ensuring that NatWest Group is set up effectively to deliver seamless customer and colleague experiences. We’ll continue to focus on personalised colleague experiences that are led by data and innovation, and I expect my role will evolve with this priority.”

- Jennifer Tippin, Group Chief People & Transformation Officer, NatWest Group
Governing Body Member of the UK & Ireland CHRO Community

Disruption as a theme is a recognition of the many industries that have become complacent and are thus ripe for radical innovation. The real challenge is to continuously challenge the status quo, embrace innovation as a constant and maintain the competitive advantage that resides on the ever-advancing edge of greatness.”

- Brian Talbert, Managing Director, Chief Information Security Officer, Alaska Airlines
Governing Body Member of the Seattle CISO Community

Have a People-Centric Mindset

The talent challenges and skills shortages of the past few years are leading C-level executives to think critically about their employee experiences and organizational culture. It’s imperative they invest their time and resources into recruiting and retaining highly skilled employees if they hope to be competitive in the future.

For me, the CIO role is more about people rather than the technology itself. Ensuring that our relationships with partners and vendors always result in a win-win, and placing a heightened awareness on our top talent has elevated our business and we see it in our results. Surrounding yourself with great people and creating a healthy corporate culture is where the true value lies.”

- Will Dalton, Vice President, Chief Information Officer, ATCO
Governing Body Member of the Calgary CIO Community

Now more than ever, employees demand great leaders and we expect that trend to continue. It is now the table stakes for the future of our companies. The C-Suite will be heavily focused on leadership, upskilling for the future and evolving organizational culture to be more inclusive."

- Felicia Sanders, Chief Human Resources Officer, Michelin
Governing Body Member of the Atlanta CHRO Community

The CDAO role will increasingly focus on a number of things… including securing and retaining data skills for the organisation and working on the grassroots buildup of data talent from within the organisation, as well as inspiring students to consider data careers. Improving data literacy across the organisation will remain a focus, but with the long-term aim of achieving data fluency.”

Brad Currin, Chief Data Officer, Shell
Governing Body Member of the UK & Ireland CDAO Community


I see the CHRO role being a champion for change and ensuring we stay open-minded to what change looks like for the future of work. I feel my role is to always push the envelope and not regress back to old-ways of working, because we have learned that there are new ways to work in a hybrid environment. In addition, CHROs will focus on how we can evolve the employee value proposition quickly, and how we can prepare ourselves to continue to evolve it.”

- Janet Joubran, Chief People Officer, KFC
Governing Body Member of the Toronto CHRO Community

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