CEOs in chemicals look to the future: Key findings from 20 years of surveys of industry leaders

Chemical industry leaders are less optimistic about the future. After a period of high M&A activity, their focus is on organic growth and cost reduction - and investments in innovation and human capital are being prioritized to drive new opportunities. Digitization will lead to first tangible changes in 2-3 years.

Compared to many industries, chemicals industry leaders don’t expect growth

Compared to many industries, chemicals industry leaders don’t expect growth


Chemicals CEOs are more concerned about different threats than their peers in other industries

Chemicals CEOs are more concerned about different threats than their peers in other industries


Technology discontinuities are perceived as less of a game changer in the chemicals industry

Technology discontinuities are perceived as less of a game changer in the chemicals industry


Chemicals CEOs largely focus on organic growth and cost reduction; these activities do not typically involve collaboration and M&A

Chemicals CEOs largely focus on organic growth and cost reduction


Investments in innovation and human capital are highest on the CEO agenda for driving new opportunities — in chemicals and all other sectors

Investments in innovation and human capital are highest on the CEO agenda for driving new opportunities


In the war for talent, chemicals CEOs find it hard to recruit critical skills

In the war for talent, chemicals CEOs find it hard to recruit critical skills


In a nutshell...

  • Organic growth and cost reduction remain the dominant topics on the CEO agenda
  • M&A is another major lever for growth and for further improving portfolio and sharpening differentiating capabilities
  • Investment in innovation and human capital have clear priority
  • Diversification of talent base and establishment of new capabilities will be crucial to deliver against growth strategies in a challenging environment
  • First tangible impact is to be expected after 2–3 years of exploring the digital agenda