Questions For Every Leader To Consider in 2023

Welcome to 2023! The beginning of a new year and new possibilities. Our global leadership team has worked up a list of thought-provoking questions (plus some advice) for leaders of all teams looking to retain, acquire, and develop their people in the year ahead and achieve business success.

How will you build your team culture and enhance your employer brand?

“The energy of togetherness and teamwork is something which people have realised cannot be recreated through a screen. Although we have started to come back together, building a strong culture and loyalty from your staff, and building a strong employee brand experience becomes ever more important to differentiate and elevate the experience beyond just financial remuneration. I urge every leader to build an environment where people can be their best.” Juliet Timms, Founder

“Pay attention to your employer brand – as this is what will ultimately differentiate those who have the edge when attracting transformational talent.” Sarah Skinner, CEO, EMEA

 “In Asia, as the quarantine and travel requirements loosen up in China with signs of wider re-engagement with the rest of the world – international companies will still look to China for growth in the APAC region. There will be significant challenges in encouraging the best local and international talent to stay, or bring them back if they have left the market. It has been hugely traumatic, so organisations need to go above and beyond to invest in, and support their people, in all aspects of their lives. Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC

 How will you develop as a leader this year?

 “Authentic leadership will become even more key in tough times, whilst COVID was a huge test for leaders (managing remote work, future of work etc) a new generation of leaders will enter a downturn for which they were mid-level managers in 2008. They will need support on how to manage through a downturn; communication will be key in an empathetic manner and authenticity will be important here – not everyone has to agree with you, but they deserve to understand the ’what, why, why now, what this means for me’ during change management.“ Jay Haines, Founder

 “It’s going to be a bumpy year and many leaders are steeling themselves for that. Keep calm and be decisive about the things that matter. Manage the numbers as it might not be the bumper year and influence the things you can in the best way you can. Much of it might be beyond your control.” Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC

Where will the new talent that you need in your business come from?

“Employers are going to need to be broader, and braver, in thinking about talent. The employers who will win are the ones who have a very wide aperture when considering the kind of talent they need for their roles. Step up candidates, high-potential candidates, those with unexpected backgrounds. Very prescriptive approaches to talent are a thing of the past. If we are to increase diversity in the industry, and if employers want truly to disrupt, differentiate, and gain an advantage, the key will be thinking about talent differently. It’s not about finding the right person to fit the role as written in its current state; it’s about finding someone who can successfully rewrite the role with the future in mind.” Erin Mastel, Director

“Despite the uncertainty, there is the opportunity to be brave and innovate. This will lead to the chance to make lateral hires from outside your sector and create supportive landing spaces to set external industry talent up for success and gain competitive advantage.” Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC

 How are you going to lead through this next phase of digital transformation?

“We are seeing an increasing number of clients turn to smaller, more distributed partners who can drive the strategy and innovation they need. We are also seeing new model firms like BeenThereDoneThat take advantage of distributed talent networks to get the right people on the right project for the right time. Faster, better, cheaper (or more efficient) will be key – the days of long winded PowerPoint decks and strategy are gone.”  Jay Haines, Founder

 “Technology leaders should have a seat on the executive board (not via the CFO) and the knowledge of how to maximise your first party data will be incredibly important.”  Sarah Skinner, CEO, EMEA

“Clients know that they will need first party data, dynamic content, and technology at the core of their business model to win.  They will need to use first party data to deliver dynamic content to their target audiences and so will require talent that really understands how to do this.” Juliet Timms, Founder

What actions are you going to take on sustainability and EDI?

“This year’s challenge isn’t just about how to navigate an economic recession in the short term but also how we do so in the longer run to save our environment. The world needs quick and clever decisions on both fronts and not to see them as a zero sum game.  Our world of advertising and marketing needs to play its part not only in reducing our emissions but also to communicate the benefits to the world at large.” Ian Priest, Global Chairman

“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will take more of a centre stage in Asia. And it is the responsibility of every organisation to do their own work on themselves, to start to unlock the value across all three elements of E,D&I. Mobility needs to come back now borders are open – both within organisations and bringing in new talent. Excitingly, we have started to see   our clients look globally again from markets such as Singapore and Australia for the best talent in the world. Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC

 For leaders in agencies, what talent issues should be on my agenda?

 “From a talent perspective in the agency world, the challenge for leaders is to ensure that advertising is still an industry young people want to join. If it can’t compete with other industries from a salary perspective then it has to offer other things. Part of this is employee well-being, work-life balance and opportunities for progression and experience but it is also quite simply about it being a fun place to be and a world where creatively minded folk can thrive.” Natalie Napier, UK Managing Partner

“The challenge is that talent on the agency-side is increasingly desiring brand-side roles. At the same time, creative salaries will continue to level or stagnate – the trend we’ve seen for the past 2 years will become more prevalent. However, on the flip side, technology literacy in traditional agencies can improve as more tech-brand talent may look to move back into agencies.” Debra Sercy, US Managing Partner

“The priority will be to build in more talent that can truly understand a client’s business and strategically guide them.” Juliet Timms, Founder

“It appears that online advertising at the big tech firms is flatlining. CX through MarTech is a growth engine for agencies, provided they secure the talent to compete against consultancies.” Sarah Skinner, CEO, EMEA

For leaders in Consumer Brands, what talent issues should be on my agenda?

 “2023 will bring more of what we have seen in the last quarter of 2022 – cost of living biting, recession kicking in.  Brands will need talent that can really nail value as consumers will be asking “what is the minimum I can spend?” and “can I get the same for less?”. Shopper behaviour will continue to evolve with consumers seeking out ever more personal experiences. History has shown that brands that pivot their business models will survive e.g., Blockbuster died, Netflix boomed. The new economy business models (subscription, personalisation) will continue to thrive, and consumer brands need leadership talent who can bring about that transformation.” Linzi Cameron, Managing Partner

“The economic pressure will mean that CMOs will be making budget cuts in 2023.  Brands will therefore need to be more creative and rely on the very best creative talent to deliver sales and growth.” Juliet Timms, Founder

“Brands will continue to build creative resources in-house to cut non-working dollars spent with agencies. The question to answer is how best to attract and build the right talent to deliver this requirement.” Debra Sercy, US Managing Partner

 For leaders in Sports, Media & Entertainment organisations, what talent issues should be on my agenda?

“Strategic, pioneering, and inclusive leadership will be essential this year, with digital content and storytelling integral to any strategy for sports and entertainment brands that need to continue to put the consumer at the very heart of everything they do.  The role of data and insight will be pushed further into the foreground to develop and evolve consumer products, all essential for revenue growth.” Tim Palmer, Managing Partner – Sports, Media & Entertainment

“Media platforms are going to need to work a lot harder and think outside the box to retain media dollars, particularly if you’re not the newest kid on the block. This could be interesting as the industry doubles down on innovation with the ability to attract the very best talent to disrupt their own practices. Talent which was once keen to join a “tech platform” may now be more circumspect and will scrutinise the organisations more deeply in terms of the support they will get.” Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC



If you’d like to talk more about your talent acquisition and retention plans for 2023, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Grace Blue.