Chief Executives today need to do more than simply grow a business and make money for their investors.
Good CEOs are those who nurture relations with all stakeholders, and enhance the reputation of their brands as a result. Even investors increasingly care about corporate social responsibility about environmental, social and governance issues.
The role of the CEO has evolved as we navigate the era of personality CEOs where public scrutiny can be equal to that of a celebrity figure. It is no longer enough to have a vision for the business’s future. It is about forging an authentic public profile and reacting earnestly to reputational crises.
Every year, we release the ranking of the world’s top brand guardians – the Brand Guardianship Index – which includes the top 100 CEOs globally. We have researched and evaluated the brand guardianship score of over 200 CEOs this year.
For the 2021 Brand Guardianship Index, Brand Finance commissioned a survey among a panel of 288 market analysts and journalists- two stakeholder groups who have informed and influential views on chief executives’ reputation. Fieldwork was conducted in December 2020.
Allison Kirkby, CEO, Telia
The only female telecoms CEO featured in the ranking is Telia’s Allison Kirkby. Another newbie to the position, but by no means a rookie, Kirkby took the helm in October 2019. Previous roles include President & Group CEO of TDC Group and President & Group CEO of Tele2.
Kirkby’s visionary approach and focus on growth is clearly reflected in her third-place rank for having a strong strategy and long-term vision, with 56% of experts feeling she has a strong strategy, considerably higher than the 27% telecoms average. Kirkby is striving towards the overall vision of making Telia the leading operator in the Nordics and Baltics. As Telia puts it “connectivity has become part of the very fibre of life” and therefore the brand seeks to become resilient in a both fast paced and disruptive environment.
The combination of her powerful leadership, her engaging and inspiring manner, her visionary approach and her strong focus on growth are key reasons that she achieved a 91% approval rating among the specialist audiences polled. These high scores are reflected in Kirkby’s high employee approval ratings where she sits in the top four among the ten telecom CEOs featured.
In 2020, under Kirkby’s leadership, Telia was named Sweden’s strongest brand. The brand performed strongly across key metrics in Brand Finance’s Global Brand Equity Monitor study including price, products, consideration, familiarity, environment, governance, and reputation. With a continued focus on its CSR initiatives, the telecoms brand prides itself on its sustainable and responsible business practices, which it cites as the prerequisite for both sustainable growth and profitability.
“Allison’s strong vision will be to Telia’s benefit as the Telecom industry goes through a transformational period. It will require a Brand Guardian with a clear sense of direction to navigate the challenges of Commoditisation and the 4th industrial revolution.”David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance