In an uncertain world, securing the longevity of your business has never been more challenging. From macroeconomic volatility and geopolitical threats to climate action and the rise of GenAI, the challenges facing CEOs continue to grow more complex. Framed in the context of this complexity and the increasing pace of change, more and more business leaders are acknowledging the need to reinvent their business for sustained success. Last year, 21% of Irish CEOs were not confident about the sustainability of their business models within ten years if they continued on their existing path. This year, that figure rose to 28%, with the global average at 45%, suggesting that the need for continuous reinvention of business models will be a new norm for CEOs. This year’s survey asked 4,702 CEOs—including 121 in Ireland—about their plans to transform their business and deliver sustained outcomes. What follows are key perspectives and insights on the need for transformation and the opportunities that can create for business.

Enda McDonagh
Managing Partner, PwC Ireland

At a glance:

CEO Survey 2024

Most Irish CEOs are taking steps towards reinvention, but why?

And what actions are they taking to ensure sustained success?

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50% expect Ireland’s economic growth to improve in the year ahead.

94% are confident in their company's revenue growth prospects in the next three years.


do not believe their company will be economically viable in ten years if it continues on its current path.


expect GenAI to lead to increased cybersecurity risk in the next 12 months.


cite new technology as having influenced how their company creates, delivers and captures value.


plan to acquire at least one company in the next three years.


cite regulatory complexity as an inhibitor to decarbonisation.


have accepted lower rates of return in the last year when evaluating climate-friendly investments.


believe GenAI will help their company build trust with stakeholders in the year ahead.


cite a lack of support from internal stakeholders as a significant hurdle for changing how their company creates, delivers and captures value.

The innovation imperative

“CEOs need to have a clear sense of how to create value and be willing to make tough calls, whether that’s reallocating resources from legacy businesses or redefining a company’s industry boundaries and ecosystem partners.”

Amy Ball
Transformation Leader

Explore Amy’s insights

As existential threats converge, Irish CEOs expect technological change (97%), changes in customer preferences (94%) and government regulation (93%) in particular to drive changes to how their companies create, deliver and capture value in the next three years. 63% also expect GenAI to significantly change how their companies create, deliver and capture value in the same period—slightly lower than the global average of 70%—with efficiencies in employees’ time at work cited as a core benefit by 69% of Irish CEOs.

Source: PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey

Successful reinvention requires astute and bold resource reallocation, however. Whether that’s investing in tech-led transformation, addressing cost and capability issues, or improving your supply chain and broader operating model, you need to continually test your resource allocation strategy—both financial and human. Encouragingly, 53% of Irish companies reallocate more than 10% of their company’s resources every year—albeit 14% lower than the global figure of 67%. Indeed, resource allocation can occur at all levels. For example, last year’s CEO Survey found that day-to-day, project-level decisions are a surprisingly significant performance driver.

As always, there are barriers to reinvention too. Perceived constraints include the regulatory environment (88%), competing operational priorities (88%) and a lack of skills (75%)—and this is consistent with the views of global CEOs. To ensure that their companies are ready for the future, whatever it might hold, CEOs need to focus not only on their business model, but also on the operating and technology models that enable it. They must also look beyond their company’s walls to embrace strategic business ecosystems. This can be a beneficial endeavour, with such companies 1.7 times more likely to be faster to market than their peers, 1.2 times more likely to be flexible and agile, and 2.3 times more likely to be highly innovative.

Such innovation is a core strength in the Irish economy, with 63% of Irish CEOs reporting that 0-20% of their company’s total sales were attributable to new products or services introduced in the last three years—notably higher than the global average of 54%. And with the business acquisition rate expected to double to 41% in the next three years, many Irish CEOs are ready to invest for the future.

Redefine your climate priorities

“CEOs need to identify which interventions will have the biggest impact on decarbonisation, social sustainability and nature. And for CEOs seeking a faster-paced transformation through M&A, joint ventures and alliances, partnering with their CFO can be especially fruitful.”

David McGee
ESG Leader

Read David's insights

CEOs are making complex trade-offs as they strive to boost the sustainability of their businesses, with lower hurdle rates for climate-friendly investments increasingly accepted. In the last 12 months, 40% of Irish CEOs accepted lower rates of return for climate-friendly investments, lower by one percentage point or more in 96% of cases and very much in line with the global trend. With issues like net zero and ESG/sustainability reporting—and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), in particular—coming into view, forward-looking companies are also taking proactive steps to improve energy efficiency (93%) and sell products, services or technologies that support customers’ climate resilience efforts (83%). In doing so, they are creating nature-positive business models that mitigate risks, strengthen financial returns and benefit society.

Source: PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey

Source: PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey

This year’s CEO Survey also shows that regulatory complexity inhibits the decarbonisation of business models for 71% of Irish CEOs and 76% of global CEOs. This influencing factor is followed by lower returns for climate-friendly investments and a lack of climate-friendly technologies in respondents’ sectors. Despite hurdles to climate action, many CEOs see climate change as an industry disruptor with both opportunities and risks—a hopeful indicator of future progress. Indeed, this action-oriented view is supported by PwC’s Global Investor Survey in which two-thirds of investors said companies should make investments that address ESG issues even if they reduce short-term profitability.

As businesses prepare for a period of concerted climate action, CEOs should partner with their CFOs to transition to sustainable sources of energy and develop a climate strategy that works both for their company and society at large. CFOs are natural and trusted partners for CEOs with the capacity to influence resource allocation, long-term capital spending and M&A activity in the context of creating more sustainable business models. They also have a host of data-driven forecasting, budgeting, resource allocation, and risk management tools, which can bring sustainability into the heart of strategy.

Capture the opportunity in risk

“The need to reinvent is intensifying, driven by threat response strategies and new business enablers such as GenAI. CEOs now need to set clear risk-based priorities to focus on the biggest risks whilst also creating the appropriate governance around data privacy and how AI models are trained.”

Ciarán Kelly
Risk and Regulation Leader

Read Ciarán's insights

While Irish CEOs might be drawn to the opportunities associated with business reinvention, many remain concerned about their companies’ long-term economic viability. 28% expect their companies to go out of business in ten years or less if they continue on their current path—up from 21% a year earlier but notably lower than the global rate of 45%. Given these threats are universal, the relative optimism of Irish CEOs may be exaggerated. CEOs should be on high alert for any misplaced optimism in the years ahead as threats evolve.


of Irish CEOs expect their companies to go out of business in ten years or less if they continue on their current path

Many are tuned in to their perceived exposure to various threats in the next 12 months. Inflation tops the list (Ireland: 95%, Global: 93%), followed by macroeconomic volatility (Ireland: 94%, Global: 90%) and cyber risks (Ireland: 90%, Global: 88%). Climate change is now in fifth place but remains a dominant threat for almost three-quarters of CEOs (Ireland: 73%, Global: 72%).

Source: PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey

In addition to these challenges, Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) is the break-out development of the past year. 60% of Irish CEOs expect it to significantly increase competitive intensity in their respective industries in the years ahead, compared to the global average of 68%. It is also expected to increase certain risks, from cybersecurity risk (76%) and spread of misinformation (62%) to legal liabilities and reputational risks (55%) and bias towards specific groups of customers or employees (37%)—each of which trended slightly higher than the global average, suggesting a more cautious perspective among Irish CEOs.

Source: PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey

Industry-wide regulations such as the EU AI Act and the EU Cyber Resilience Act, along with more targeted regulations such as the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), the expanded Network and Information Security Directive (NIS2) and the Individual Accountability Framework, are firmly on the C-suite agenda. CEOs must take a proactive approach to the regulatory landscape and risk management developments to ensure resilience, compliance and sustained outcomes in an increasingly complex digital environment.

Get to grips with your regulatory requirements

“The CSRD data requirement is intensive. Companies will face a complex web of disclosure demands with up to 1,000 data points to report on across up to ten key ESG topics. Trust in the accuracy and integrity of this data is paramount. Disclosures must cover qualitative and quantitative measures across short, medium and long-term considerations, spanning the entire value chain. In short, data is critical and there is no time to lose.”

Fidelma Boyce
Assurance Partner

Read Fidelma's insights

With 71% of CEOs citing regulatory complexity as an inhibiting factor in decarbonising their business models, there is much work to do in order to adapt to the new ESG and sustainability reporting requirements, such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

Source: PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey

CSRD mainly targets large companies and listed entities. It aims to increase the transparency of sustainability information and inform stakeholders about companies’ sustainable performance, which drives investor decision-making. With organisations, investors and governments no longer depending solely on conventional financial data for decision-making, forward-thinking organisations are now including information about their employees, intellectual property, significant relationships, social impacts and environmental considerations, such as climate change, in their reporting.

The initial wave of companies will have to apply the new CSRD regulation for the first time using 2024 financial year data, for reporting published in 2025. In-scope companies must act now to assess their readiness, identify gaps, secure the right skills and resources, and create a data-driven roadmap in order to be CSRD compliant.

It is a significant undertaking, but those CEOs who get it right will help their companies unlock value while meeting their much-scrutinised regulatory requirements.

Your reinvention playbook

Create agents of change

Many perceived constraints fall under the CEO’s influence, but you can’t do everything. You must first speak with your people to identify the gaps between their views and those of your leaders. Then, you can begin to build alignment around priorities for change, invite employees to actively participate in your company’s reinvention and create a culture of trust.

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Reallocate ruthlessly

One common attribute of high-performing companies is nimble resource allocation. To reinvent your business, you will need to reallocate resources from legacy businesses and potentially redefine industry boundaries and ecosystem partners. Companies that do tend to reinvent themselves more frequently and generate higher profit margins in the process.

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Adopt a customer-first reinvention mindset

Given the many challenges that demand significant change in business operations, you must understand how ecosystems are forming around customer needs and define your company’s role in the resulting value chains. To make room for truly innovative ideas and solutions, you will need to challenge historical ideas and assumptions and seek the input of your people—at all levels.

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Redefine leadership

To lead your company towards reinvention, you must expand your executive team to include experts in emerging areas, such as climate regulation or AI. Your top team must also take ownership of the change, and new mechanisms will be needed to account for the fact that the answers to many questions do not exist. This approach will give you unparalleled opportunities to reshape your organisation and turn aspiration into reality.

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Contact us

Enda McDonagh

Enda McDonagh

Managing Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

David McGee

David McGee

ESG Leader, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 86 268 1522

Amy Ball

Amy Ball

Business Transformation Leader, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Ciarán Kelly

Ciarán Kelly

Risk & Regulation Leader, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Fidelma Boyce

Fidelma Boyce

Assurance Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 86 8128831

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