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PwC Australia’s
25th CEO Survey

Onwards and upwards:

The most important problems Australia’s CEOs are solving for growth today and tomorrow

PwC Australia’s Annual CEO Survey is a unique barometer of business sentiment. For 25 years now, we have asked Australia's CEOs across every sector about their perspectives on the market and risks to growth. 

While COVID-19’s health and economic challenges remain uncertain, in our latest survey, CEOs of Australia’s biggest companies have shown they have underlying confidence in economic and business growth. 

However, they have highlighted three threats that could damage their companies’ reputations and impact sales: cybersecurity, climate change and skills shortages.

As leaders, we need to find new ways to solve these important problems in order to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes - not only for our companies but for our broader communities. At PwC, we call this The New Equation.

We hope the insights in this report help shed light on the key challenges facing your businesses and communities, and where your opportunities for growth lie.


Tom Seymour,
CEO, PwC Australia

CEOs positive about underlying economic growth

Australia’s CEOs are positive about economic growth both globally and locally in 2022 despite the potential for ongoing pandemic impacts.

Domestic business confidence during the survey period was high, with 88% of CEOs surveyed expecting economic growth in Australia and 98% confident about their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over 2022.

Meanwhile, the US has extended its lead over China as Australia’s most important trade partner, according to those surveyed.

“During the past two years… investment has been held back. What we need to see now is investment by business ramping up."

Jeremy Thorpe, Chief Economist, PwC Australia

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88% of CEOs are confident about economic growth in 2022.

Source: PwC Australia's 25th CEO Survey was conducted October - November 2021.

Cybersecurity is No.1 business risk

CEOs in Australia are even more concerned than their global counterparts about cybersecurity, following a record year of cyber attacks.

Not only can a cybersecurity incident cause reputational damage, 52% of CEOs say cyber risk is inhibiting their company’s ability to innovate.

As cyber risks become increasingly complex, affect the whole supply chain and require hard-to-find talent, it’s time CEOs regard cybersecurity resilience as more than a cost to business, but a critical investment to support business growth.

“I am already seeing a positive shift in the mindset of business leaders who are beginning to view cybersecurity as an enabler that builds trust with clients."

Rick Crethar, Chief Risk Officer and Cyber & Digital Trust Leader, PwC Australia

Cybersecurity is top threat to company growth for third year in a row - and beats COVID-19

Source: PwC Australia’s 25th CEO Survey.

Workforce challenges underscore need for upskilling

Two-thirds of CEOs are worried about the impact of COVID-19 and health-related risks on attracting and retaining talent in 2022. 

Australia is in a war for talent, and investment in retraining and upskilling employees needs to be a top priority.

“After a challenging couple of years, a lot of people feel overworked and overwhelmed and they want to feel valued by an organisation that invests in them."

Dr Ben Hamer, Lead, Future of Work, PwC Australia

Catherine Walsh, Head of People & Culture, PwC Australia

67% of CEOs are worried about the impact of pandemic-related risks on their ability to attract and retain key skills/talent

Source: PwC Australia’s 25th CEO Survey. Note: This data is only from CEOs who were ‘moderately’, ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about the impact of these risks to their company growth in the next 12 months, with a minimum sample size of 30.


Climate change seen as an immediate threat to business growth

Customers, employees and investors are demanding companies take climate change seriously and most CEOs are listening.  

Ninety per cent of CEOs have some level of concern about the impact of climate change to their business over the next 12 months, while about three-quarters of companies surveyed either have emissions reduction targets or are in the process of developing them.

However, accountability is lacking, as few CEOs have climate change or environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets linked to their remuneration.

“Put simply, it’s a matter of trust. Who do customers, employees and investors trust to do their part in tackling the climate crisis?"

Liza Maimone,
Chief Operating Officer and ESG Executive,
PwC Australia

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Only 35% of companies surveyed have greenhouse gas emissions targets in their long-term corporate strategy

Source: PwC Australia’s 25th CEO Survey.

Contact us

Roslyn Atkinson

Senior Manager, Head of Thought Leadership, PwC Australia

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