• KPMG 2023 survey reveals what’s top of mind for Australian CEOs in 2023
  • Talent, cyber risk and revenue growth top the list
  • Also, the top 3 social issues for Aussie CEOs


Australia has avoided the worst of Covid-19, but now we have new challenges like rising cost of living, a war in Europe leading to high energy prices, and a global economy tipping towards recession.

This troubled backdrop has been reflected in KPMG’s 2023 annual survey of business leaders, which was published recently.

In the survey, KPMG asked 400 business leaders in Australia what issues sit at the top of their mind for 2023.


Top CEO challenges for 2023

KPMG asked: What are the key challenges facing Australian business leaders in 2023?

Talent acquisition and retention

With the unemployment rate in Australia at its lowest level for more than 50 years, Australian leaders reported the challenges around hiring and retaining talent.

This problem has become more acute in the past 12 months. Staff shortage is a real issue, and Australia is now past full employment and businesses are unable to find the required skills to fill vacant jobs.

There is also an acknowledgement by CEOs that this not a ‘fix once and forget’ challenge. Rather, talent acquisition will intensify as a challenge for leaders now and into the medium term.

Dealing with cyber risks

Cyber risk maintains its place as a top-tier business challenge by leaders – and it is worth noting that the survey ended just before the Optus data breach occurred on 22 October 2022.

Since then, we have seen further high-profile cyber attacks, including the release of health records of Medibank customers on the dark web.

KPMG says that in a world of increasing digitisation, the collection, storage and security of sensitive data poses a real challenge for all businesses.

Market growth

The near-term business outlook is one of softening consumption and investment growth, tighter government expenditures and higher debt costs.

CEOs mostly believe in the same philosophy as Sun Tze – that in the context of a deteriorating business environment, adopting a growth attacking strategy is the best form of defence.

KPMG’s experience suggests those who successfully implemented a pro-growth strategy did so using a relatively straightforward plan.

This includes establishing a pro-growth culture, and setting ambitious targets that require the organisation to stretch together for them to be achieved.

Top social challenges

The survey also looked at the top social challenges in the minds of Australian CEOs as they navigate their companies in the new world of ESG scrutiny.

KPMG asked: What are the main social challenges impacting Australian business?

Here are the top three answers by Australian CEOs:

1. Health risks including COVID-19 (26%)

2. Social licence to operate/reputation (10%)

3. Emerging and disruptive technology (7%)