The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

Market Growth and Strategy Development are the Main Challenges Facing Senior Executives


Market growth and strategy development are the major challenges facing global senior business executives, according to the 2017 Corporate Learning Pulse global survey. Conducted on behalf of Financial Times | IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance (, the survey considers the future direction of leadership development.

Research was conducted among almost 1000 senior professionals across multiple business sectors in China, France, GCC countries, Germany, Netherlands, Nordics, Japan, Spain and the UK. Two thirds of the companies involved in the research employ over 250 people.

Over a third of senior professionals identify business growth as one of their top three business challenges (35%), followed by strategy development (32%) and cyber security (30%). Despite ongoing political uncertainty and increasing regulatory requirements, geopolitical factors and navigating the regulatory environment are only a major issue for 12% and 14% respectively of global senior executives surveyed.

While corporate learning falls behind other business priorities in 2017, it is clear from the survey that senior professionals understand and recognise the long-term benefits of learning and leadership development. Almost one in four senior professionals report that corporate learning is in their top three organisational priorities in 2017 (24%).

Global senior professionals are very positive about the impact of corporate learning /leadership development with:

  • 84% stating education/leadership development has improved their business knowledge, competencies and confidence.
  • 83% seeing education/leadership development as vital to achieve business goals.
  • 81% viewing education/leadership development as more important than ever.
  • 81% acknowledging that education/leadership development has enhanced their ability to do their job more effectively.

The majority of global senior executives view education/leadership development as vital to employee retention (58%) and a key driver for innovation and change (53%) within their organisations.

The main learning priorities with regards to corporate learning are revealed as:

  • Strategy execution (58%)
  • Strategy and planning (57%)
  • Leadership capabilities (56%)
  • Successful innovation (55%)

Notably, among senior professionals in the UK, Spain, Germany, Nordics, the Netherlands and France (where 2016 priorities were recorded), there are significant year-on-year increases in strategy execution (54% to 58%), managing reputation and risk (49% to 54%) and commercial acumen (46% to 54%).

While there is a lot to be positive about, what is also apparent from the survey results is that learning and leadership development programmes have not quite lived up to expectations. Less than half of senior professionals (47%) believe that past investments in corporate learning have added value to their organisation.

Among those who did not agree past investments in corporate learning have added value, the main reasons cited for the lack of benefit are an inability to:

  • Measure the success or outcomes of such programmes (43%).
  • Adapt to the organisation’s needs (38%).
  • Demonstrate a tangible impact on the organisation (36%).

Nonetheless, there is still optimism about the future success of corporate learning, with 53% of senior professionals stating that senior leaders believe future investments in these types of programmes will add value to their organisation.

Commenting on the research results, VanDyck Silveira, CEO of Financial Times | IE Corporate Learning Alliance, says:

“Senior executives face a multitude of business challenges, including an increasingly competitive environment, changes to technology and cybersecurity. Our survey reveals that corporate learning plays a vital role in helping businesses meet these challenges and developing the next generation of business leaders.”

The 2017 Corporate Learning Pulse global survey report and a video summary of the 2017 report findings is available to download from