Recession. Cyberattacks. Inflation. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, global CEOs have confronted a new world of extraordinary volatility and uncertainty, forcing many to reassess their growth assumptions and put strategic plans on hold. In fact, nearly 8 in 10 now expect a recession in their primary region of operation within the next 12 to 18 months — or believe one is already underway.


Between May 10 and 24, The Conference Board surveyed 750 CEOs and other C-suite executives, primarily based in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. The results reveal the war’s impact on the perspectives, priorities, anxieties and future plans of business leaders around the world. 

At the same time, the war is acting as a change accelerator, speeding new thinking in areas with long-term ramifications, including cyber risk, supply chains, renewable energy, and crisis and contingency planning. Nine in 10 CEOs are now concerned about Russian retaliation through cyberattacks — an area in which many firms recognized their lack of preparedness before the war.


According to the C-Suite Outlook Mid-Year, Ukraine fallout is nearly universal across the world’s C-suites. Just 9% of surveyed leaders say the war will have “no material impact” on their business operations in the coming year — but even they are unlikely to escape the effect of surging energy and food prices. Indeed, respondents named its contributions to inflation among the war’s most damaging economic consequence.


Moreover, the mid-year survey reveals how the war has scrambled the landscape of priorities facing CEOs. In addition to cybersecurity soaring in salience, the unprecedented Western sanctions on Russia have elevated the importance of regulators and boards as key stakeholders, as well as raised the urgency of preparing for future economic conflict, especially with China. 


Visit the C-Suite Outlook Mid-Year report for more insights.