Growth Secrets of the World’s Most Admired Companies

Korn Ferry Survey Highlights Key Growth Drivers for 2024

Los Angeles, April 2, 2024 - Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) today unveiled new data from the World’s Most Admired Companies 2024 Growth Insights that shows these companies are optimistic about their growth prospects despite economic uncertainty, largely due to the success of their talented teams.

As leading executives search for new avenues to drive growth, Korn Ferry’s survey found that 98% of the World’s Most Admired Companies (WMACs) are anticipating growth over the next three years, including 7% who expect to grow more than 20% in that time period. Just over half of WMACs (53%) place an emphasis on sales, either prioritizing top-line growth or increasing market share, while 47% of WMACs put bottom-line profitability in the first place.

Among the top five growth levers analyzed, 63% are directly related to the teams of talented people behind the WMACs, including a greater focus on top team alignment, talent acquisition and development, and customer-centricity.

“At the core of success for the World's Most Admired Companies lies a profound commitment to investing in their greatest asset—their people,” said Mark Royal, a Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner and Employee Engagement specialist. “It's not merely about financial or technology investments; it's about cultivating a culture that fosters growth, values talent, and empowers individuals to collectively drive the company towards excellence."

Key takeaways from the research on WMAC priorities and opportunities include:

  • Talent Over Tech: Despite the predominant focus on technology for driving growth within their companies, WMAC executives are clear on the value of people, with 82% saying talent is more important than technology when it comes to driving growth. Nevertheless, these executives still display a strong commitment to technology, with 88% actively integrating or testing AI solutions across their businesses, and 86% expecting to incorporate it into future growth strategies.
  • M&A Activity Roars Back: 90% of the WMACs forecast growth through M&A over the next five years, with half (51%) of these companies forecasting up to 9% and an additional 22% envisioning 10-19% growth in the same period. WMAC executives agree that leadership alignment (41%) and establishing a “one company” culture (39%) are key to drive the success of any M&A transaction.
  • A Clear Vision for Innovation, driven by Inclusion: More than 90% of WMACs say they have a strong vision for innovation, actively identifying the areas they’ll pursue new ideas or approaches. They do so by capturing innovative ideas and distributing them across the organization, being patient with promising ideas that don’t generate immediate returns, and setting a tone that innovative ideas can fail without penalties to the originating person or group.
  • Growth through incremental changes: 67% of WMACs agree that an evolution of organizational changes are needed to prepare for growth, not a revolution. To achieve this growth, WMAC executives are increasingly exploring new growth levers including digital transformation (51%), developing a customer-centric focus (39%) and aligning leadership teams (39%).

“The World’s Most Admired Companies know that while there are many paths to growth, a strategic transformation vision is necessary to achieve their big goals,” said Laura Manson-Smith, Korn Ferry’s Global Leader of Organization Strategy Consulting. “Companies that want to achieve at a similar level should ask themselves what skills, structures, and culture they’ll need, and if they’re clear on how they’ll align their people to deliver the growth plan.”

To develop the study, Korn Ferry surveyed nearly 400 senior executives from companies participating in this year’s World’s Most Admired Companies from 28 countries and 52 industries.

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

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