Steering Through Global Uncertainty to Achieve Strategic Alignment — Umran Beba

Talking Trends
3 min readOct 23, 2023
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Amid the complex landscape of today’s global dynamics, the importance of corporate boards in cultivating strategic alignment for long-term success cannot be overstated. Geopolitical risks have emerged as one of the top concerns for CEOs in 2023. Consequently, it is essential for boards to understand the evolving context, monitor developments, and oversee risk mitigation controls.

On one hand, exports, trade in intangibles, and talent flows are at all-time highs. On the other hand, geopolitical fragmentation has ushered in a new multipolar world where different powers compete for influence. Amidst these complexities, boards face several pressing questions. How should companies operate in and around sensitive markets? How can they plan for long-term investments amid evolving dynamics? How do they navigate the labyrinth of regulatory requirements and controls that restrict global operations?

Surveys of global boards reveal that while they feel prepared to address challenges closer to home, larger-scale forces such as major crises and macroeconomic shocks, appear too ambiguous to comprehend fully. The following steps can help boards navigate these challenges:

1. Understand: Acquire expertise and competency

Boards should assess their composition and committee structures to ensure they possess the necessary skills and experience to address geopolitical risk. A diverse board with members experienced in geopolitics and key markets can provide valuable strategic direction and risk oversight. Committees should focus on public policy, regulatory affairs, and risk management. A clear division of responsibilities between the board and management is essential, with the board offering guidance and stress-testing scenarios.

2. Monitor: Use relevant frameworks

To ensure the board’s understanding is translated into effective monitoring, frameworks are essential. A geopolitical risk dashboard should review markets based on their geopolitical risk exposure. The board should be presented with key developments, their impact, and controls being developed to manage these risks so that they can answer questions like which markets warrant continuous monitoring, if early-warning systems are in place, and if sufficient political risk insurance exists.

3. Mitigate: Guide the development and application of risk controls

Effective management of geopolitical risk involves pressure-testing management’s controls. These controls may include building resilience in supply chains, reviewing insurance policies, adapting corporate structures in sensitive jurisdictions, investing in public and regulatory affairs, and ensuring engagement with colleagues across the organization. Boards must set the organization’s risk appetite and oversee the development of compacts.

Corporate boards play a central role in overseeing and advising management on how to navigate geopolitical risks and foster strategic alignment. By strengthening their expertise and collaborating closely with the executive team, boards enable companies to adjust to the ever-evolving geopolitical environment and explore fresh avenues for growth.

Boards that tackle these challenges with resolve and finesse play an instrumental role in positioning their companies for success. In an environment where adaptability and strategic alignment are vital for achieving enduring success, their guidance and oversight become invaluable.

With nearly 35 years in the Consumer Goods Industry, Umran Beba is a seasoned professional specializing in general management, talent, and diversity. Having resided in Turkey, Hong Kong, UAE, and the USA, her cross-cultural insights enable her to transcend borders and create strategic alignment between various facets of business. Her distinct blend of financial prowess and deep appreciation for the power of human potential allows her to create enduring value for people and organizations.

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