What 2020 Challenges are Keeping C-suite Leaders Up at Night? Panelists Answer at NJTC Leadership Summit
In December, the New Jersey Technology Council held a leadership conference that attracted hundreds of CEOs, COOs, presidents and other members of the C-suite. During the event, a diverse panel of leaders of very small to very large companies discussed “Challenges for the C-Suite in 2020.”
Speaking were Ronald Kasner, president and interim CEO of iCIMS (Holmdel); Rajan Kohli, president of Wipro Digital (Brooklyn, N.Y.); and Sejal Lakhani-Bhatt, CEO of TechWerxe (Livingston). The panel was moderated by Sarah Knapp, executive VP of business development and strategy, Spruce Technology (Clifton).
After the panelists introduced themselves, Knapp stated that, while it’s customary to focus on wrapping up the old year as it comes to a close, “I think it’s widely agreed that we are expecting a bigger variety of changes in the coming year.” She, therefore, asked all the panelists to indicate the number one challenge they’ll be facing in 2020 as leaders of their organizations.
According to Lakhani-Bhatt, as leaders, making sure their organizations are protected with first-class cybersecurity will be key. “I think it’s absolutely imperative for our companies, the leaders and our employees, to really understand how to keep ourselves safe and our data safe, and how to keep the company safe as a whole.”
The hackers always seem to be one step ahead of the companies, she said, though she added that educating employees and customers on this issue will help. “We can have all the tools in place, but if we don’t have the right education,” cybersecurity will be a real problem. “It’s really just taking a step back and understanding that our data is our biggest asset … Most companies can’t survive” if hackers access their data and shut down their computers, she said. “It’s really that simple.”
Kohli noted that the biggest challenge for large companies like Wipro is differentiation. As companies get larger, differentiation erodes, he said. He broke down the challenges for 2020 into three parts. Part one is how to create better customer experiences.
Part two is how to actually implement and win the battle of customer experience while still growing the company quickly. “Companies need to be able to get new products and features to the market faster because the market catches up, and they need to be faster than the next fastest.” So, the question is how to keep growing your enterprise while providing good customer experiences, he said.
As for part three, leaders will have to guide their organizations through the process of change management, Kohli said. He explained that companies like his can’t hire all the talent they need because the “talent you need to do this type of work is not readily available.” So, companies must develop the talent inside their organizations. “How do you get your people developed? And how do you make very different silos and organizations work together to deliver better customer experiences?” he asked.
Attracting and Keeping Talent
Although the iCIMS product is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition platform, iCIMS is also a company that employs more than 1,000 people, said Kasner. “I think hiring and retaining talent has been the biggest challenge for our business during the last 10 years,” he said. “And for any company scaling and growing, you can’t do that unless you have the right talent within the organization. You can’t build product. You can’t service your customers. You can’t sell product. You need to have that talent. Especially when the economy continues to do so well, making sure that you can attract the right talent becomes so important.”
To attract and retain talent, Kasner continued, companies must have “a differentiated employee value proposition that has nothing to do with what technology you may be using. It has to do with what do you stand for as a company in terms of what you offer those employees just as much as what you offer your customers. Being true to that and what you stand for, I think, is a big part of attracting as well as retaining that talent as you continue to grow and scale.”