CEOs Talk About Their 2015 Outlook

As they head into 2015, U.S.-based CEOs wonder if the economic glass is half-empty or half-full both in the United States and around the world. And for the first time since the Great Recession, their collective expectations for the New Year tip toward steady growth and a smoother path for doing business despite lingering questions about the strength of economic recovery.

Susan-MarksWar for Talent Rages Again
Susan Marks, CEO, Cielo

We’re seeing 25-percent growth this year for our company and I think we can continue to keep up that compounded annual growth rate next year. We have a really strong team and business model and provide a lot of value to our customers. It’s the right strategy and the right execution.

I’m extremely bullish about the domestic economy, too, and generally globally. Certainly, in many markets, the war for talent is back—if it was ever gone. Companies are starting again to really find that they’ve got to work harder in that area than ever. There are horrible pockets of the U.S. economy; but generally, the unemployment rate for people with college degrees is only about 3 percent.

I’m more cautious about some of our foreign markets. Europe has been slower than the U.S. but is starting to recover somewhat, and we grew even through the worst of the European recession. One challenge for our industry is that as the economy improves, some customers are deciding, “We’ll build this function internally.” But we also like to urge people to pay attention to their own internal-development programs and help them. Smart companies do that.

Based in Milwaukee, the company—most recently known as Pinstripe—is a “talent solutions” provider and had 2013 revenues of more than $100 million.

James-OSullivanAutos Keep On Chugging
James O’Sullivan, President and CEO, Mazda North American Operations

We see a slight increase next year on the retail side because the car “park” in the U.S. continues to age significantly. Cars are lasting a lot longer, but there are pressures to replace them. Financing is readily available. Also helping growth is strong sales of small crossovers, which is getting a lot of outflow from sedans.

On top of industry volume, we’re also seeing our average transaction prices go up. Customers come in and want a lot of content, which is good news. The mix keeps improving. Fuel prices are still top-of-mind with consumers, but the best news for the U.S. economy is what we’ve been able to do with oil production domestically and how it affects energy strategy. That helps dramatically. Of course, we’re still trying to push the envelope on fuel economy to meet CAFE standards.

[Certainly], there are headwinds, especially challenges in Europe. There’s also a big worry bead on what’s happening in China, which is a big driver of the overall global economy. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, and is the
U.S. arm of Mazda, a Japanese automaker with revenues of more than $26 billion in 2013.


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