Retention and competition are the critical challenges to success in 2024 reveals Unreasonable Impact survey

Data from a survey conducted by Unreasonable Impact finds that Female leaders saw twice as much increase in investor interest than male counterparts.
Retention and competition are the critical challenges to success in 2024 reveals Unreasonable Impact survey

The end of the year always raises two important topics — the overview of the results of the year behind us, but also the expectations and challenges that the next year will bring to us.

With the aim to try to identify the most critical challenges to success in 2024, Unreasonable Impact, a partnership between Barclays and Unreasonable Group, surveyed 1,250 CEOs drawn equally from the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden — Europe’s five largest hubs of tech innovation.

Competition and retention

According to their results, more than 50 percent of CEOs surveyed opted for either ‘competition with peers’ or ‘attracting talent’ (27 percent each) as the single biggest challenge their business will face in the coming year. These leaders believe that winning or keeping staff from competitors might be the key to delivering their business objectives.

However, defining challenges definitely differ from country to country. Thus, worries about recruitment were highest in the UK, where 28 percent of the CEOs selected this option. On the contrary, in Sweden, only 21 percent of the CEOs said it was their primary worry.

Most sought after

"Problem-solving" and "leadership" were the most sought-after traits according to CEOs around Europe (21 percent). On the country level, the priorities were chosen differently:

  • In the UK problem solving is the most valued trait (24 percent).
  • In Germany, 27 percent stated that it is the "ambition to create change“ with a special focus on disruptive initiatives.
  • Experience was the most important trait for CEOs from Sweden (25 percent) and less important for CEOs from the Netherlands (15 percent).

“The true essence of success in this space also isn't just about aligning with a mission—it's about being utterly devoted to it.

"As a result, our hiring strategy is clear: we don’t just recruit for someone who is mission-aligned, we want mission-obsessed. Even though it can be challenging to find the right talent, it's imperative for all organisations to maintain their high standards. After all, the future we're striving for requires our absolute best." - Tessa Clarke Co-founder and CEO of Olio

Female leaders more interesting to investors than their male counterparts

The findings also highlighted that, despite all changes and instabilities in the global macroeconomic environment, investors remain steady in their sentiment about portfolio companies. When asked about investment trends, 67 percent of respondents stated that throughout the previous year, investor opinion about their company had remained unchanged.

The greatest increases in investor sentiment were in Germany (11 percent), the Netherlands (10 percent), and the UK (9 percent) while in France they were the lowest with 3 percent.

Comparing the numbers by gender, 12 percent of the female leaders across all five countries saw interest from investors which makes this number twice as big compared to their male counterparts (with 6 percent). 

In the face of challenges, these findings highlight the resilience of Europe's impact-focused CEOs. It’s heartening to see stable investor sentiment, and the trend of collaboration with multinationals, which underscores the power of collective action in tackling global issues." - Daniel Epstein, CEO of Unreasonable Group

Creativity, communication, and empathy

Additionally, the CEOs identified ‘creativity’ and ‘communication skills’ (68 percent and 67 percent, respectively) as the most important characteristics. However, the difference among countries can be seen here too, as empathy was selected with the highest importance in Germany (74.3 percent), but as the least important in France (45.4 percent).

"I believe there is an opportunity for impact companies in today's investment landscape with the current macroeconomic climate to seek investors beyond the conventional VCs. This will open new doors to diverse funding opportunities for companies fundraising. Explore backing from sources like corporate investors, government agencies, and family offices.

"A diverse interest reflects a well-informed investor base ready to explore innovative investment avenues. We're in an exciting era of transformative approaches and here to navigate this landscape together." - Karin Ebbinghaus, CEO & co-founder of ElonRoad

Lead image: Photo by Geranimo

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