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CEOs Priming for Return to Growth Says Conference Board Survey

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
March 4, 2010
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By Hil Anderson, senior editor

New York, NY – The consensus among CEOs of a cross-section of corporations across the U.S. is that the economy is entering a recovery that will require a degree of repositioning rather than a return to business as usual, according to a new survey from The Conference Board.

The CEO Challenge 2010 Survey concluded that companies were no longer trying to weather the recession and were looking to the future and a resumption of growth. The most pressing “Top 10” challenges listed by the CEOs who took part in the poll included growth-oriented priorities such as sustained growth, customer loyalty and retention, and maintaining their companies’ reputations for quality products.

“CEOs’ focus on these challenges suggests that recession-weary customers need to be wooed with significant new value to win back their business,” said Linda Barrington, managing director of human capital at The Conference Board, and one of the report’s authors.

"The CEO survey results makes perfect sense because companies have cut to the bone in order to survive the recession and now that a recovery has started, they are poised for any uptick in demand,” said Frank Chow, chief economist for Trade Show Executive. “The extreme cost-cutting has also led to a big rebound in corporate profits, so businesses will start to compete for market share. One of the prime ways to achieve that is through trade shows. Expect more investment interests from exhibitors who will be looking for good value."

The previous CEO Challenge Survey released in 2008 as the recession picked up steam reflected concerns about the stability of the economy and the steps needed to make sure companies survived.  “In that late 2008 survey, worries about global economic performance, business confidence, geo-financial instability and integrity of capital marketsleapt up into CEOs’ Top 10, and each has now dropped at least ten places,” said Barrington. “This year, all the challenges that jumped into the Top 10 in the crisis have now jumped back out.”

The CEO Challenge 2010 Survey was conducted from October through December 2009 and polled nearly 200 CEOs, chairmen and company presidents.

Reach Linda Barrington at (212) 759-0900 or linda.barrington@conference-board.org

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