Agility at all costs?

CEO Simon Freakley at WEF 2019

To adapt to constant change brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, business has adopted an "agility first" prescription to future-proof their company and outlast disruption. What are the trade-offs and big bets business leaders are facing in the race for agility?

Key takeaways from this panel of CEOs discussing agility and its role in transformational leadership:

  1. Agility is a topic that has always been important, but it is currently being talked about more for a reason. With rapid changes in technology and the rise of the activist investors, companies need to become their own disruptors if they want to stay ahead.
  2. The CEO also must behave like a Chief Communications Officer – especially in times of change. A company’s vision and values must be articulated constantly, so they permeate throughout the organization, with every area of the business centered on the same foundation. This is what makes agility possible.
  3. Agility in the C-suite requires balancing short-term shareholder returns with long-term value for all stakeholders. Disruption cycles are much more frequent than economic cycles, and far more profound. Leadership must stay on the front foot.


  • Simon Freakley, AlixPartners CEO 
  • Maurice Lévy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Publicis Groupe, France
  • Paul Bulcke, Chairman of the Board, Nestlé, Switzerland
  • André Kudelski, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Kudelski Group, Switzerland
  • Moderator: Bonnie Gwin, Vice-Chairman and Co-Managing Partner, Chief Executive Officer and Board Practice, Heidrick & Struggles, USA

LEADING THROUGH CHANGE: Globalization today

AlixPartners CEO Simon Freakley and Financial Times chief economics commentator Martin Wolf discuss how business leaders can move forward amid the differing views of globalization in developed and developing economies.

See more from our AlixTalks series


Every year, the small Swiss village of Davos becomes a kaleidoscope of ideas, values and political ideologies. 

Still, there is one thing that nearly everyone there will be wrestling with in some way: Change.

According to the WEF, four major transformations are redefining globalization today. These include a shift away from multilateralism in global economic leadership, disruption in the balance of global power, ecological challenges that threaten socio-economic development, and the swift emergence and scaling of new technologies.

Businesses are grappling with how to quickly adapt, without compromising the backbone elements which make them strong – seeking the right combination of agility and stability.

How does one approach leadership in this dynamic environment?  Being actively involved in the transformations of hundreds of companies has shown me and my colleagues that certain strengths are required for different times, and especially during great change.

Read the full article by AlixPartners CEO Simon Freakley.