Grace Blue’s Top 10 Talent Trends of 2023

The following are the top trends from 2023 drawn from Grace Blue’s leadership team who have worked across multiple executive search and selection briefs for many of the world’s largest brands, agencies, media owners, tech platforms and sports and entertainment properties.

A challenging market economy has impacted talent investment

Economically, 2023 has been one of the hardest years for the marketing services industry leading to greater uncertainty when it comes to whether to invest in senior talent, or to wait for more evidence of economic stability. Sarah Skinner

The rise of CX (and demand for talent who can deliver it)

2023 has witnessed a marked rise of profile and importance of CX for businesses – it’s an essential part of what a full service marketing / consumer brand business needs to be offering – ‘customer experience has moved from being a spoke on the marketing wheel to the corner stone’ meaning talent that embraces this is in high demand. Jay Haines

Earlier this year we hosted a Lessons in Leadership webinar on the evolution and importance of CX with four industry speakers. The discussions highlighted while technology was an important aspect of CX, it should be used to facilitate human connection and experiences rather than the end product. It’s clear from the discussion that there is a need to bring marketing and CX closer together within one function and the introduction of a Chief Customer Office role is one way to ensure transition and company alignment. Watch the full webinar online.

Embracing AI, and the benefits it can bring

Like every service sector, AI is being used to automate and streamline many aspects of  the talent acquisition process, helping firms to identify and reach out to potential candidates more efficiently and effectively.

There are two AI camps expressing either a negative or positive view about its effect on the world of talent. From Rishi Sunak’s global summit in London to our world of advertising, media and marketing, commentators can see the threat as well as the opportunity this revolution in technology will bring. Those who harness and embrace its incredible strengths and learn how human beings can complement the incredible benefits of machine learning will gain the most. I believe our industry’s key asset of creativity won’t be replaced but enhanced by embracing AI. Ian Priest

Sports, Media & Entertainment companies continue to ‘sweat the assets’

2023 has been a year of commercialisation in the Sports Media & Entertainment (SM&E) market, “sweating the assets” as it were, by Agencies, Brands, and Rights Holders. SM&E organisations identified the need to be more creative and move away from their traditional offerings.  Considered cross-fertilisation across organisations has never been more necessary. Talent wise, this has meant the need for proven strategic and creative thinkers to help businesses drive their products, development, and the new business lines that they can offer their clients and partners. Tim Palmer

Non-Exec Directors are essential on future-facing Boards

Non Executive Boards of directors are increasingly playing a more active role in shaping corporate strategy and governance. This is leading to a demand for board members with deep industry expertise and a strong understanding of a wider skill set such as digital transformation, marketing, inclusion, climate action and CX. Sarah Skinner

Succession – CMO to CEO

We have seen an increasing appetite for businesses hiring CEO’s who have come through a marketing route (as opposed to the traditional CFO succession), as well as CEO’s hiring CMO’s with succession planning in mind.  With businesses increasingly putting the customer at the heart of their business and ensuring marketing is represented at Board level, we believe this trend will continue. Linzi Cameron

Everyone has a stake in talent investment

At the start of the year, the Advertising Association’s Talent Taskforce published its findings with the overarching strategy of greater investment in the industry’s talent’s. Its report highlighted the importance of attracting and retaining the lifeblood of the industry – its people – and the importance of promoting the industry as a career choice.

“For the agency sector to evolve, it must invest in talent at all levels, and this includes its leadership. Arguably, this is the most important place to start.” Sarah Skinner

By investing in their leaders, agencies can future proof and transform for the better, in combination with the other initiatives around talent, led by the likes of the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA. Read Sarah’s thought piece for Creativebrief.

Talent wants to see employers taking positive action on climate change

Numerous studies of talent’s biggest concerns across the advertising and marketing services industries highlighted people’s ongoing concerns about climate change and the desire to see the businesses they work with take positive action. We believe this will become more and more of a key factor, particularly for younger talent which view the issue as central to their role and purpose for the company they choose to work for. Sarah Skinner

Advertising industry initiative, Ad Net Zero, has more on how and what the industry needs to do –

Office vs remote working – finding the right flexible solution for your talent is critical

Momentum has been building this year for a return to the office with many UK businesses embracing the role of being together in the workplace as critical to productivity gains and better staff wellbeing. However, there is still a tension in the US due to geography. Sarah Skinner

Even in less-than-ideal economic circumstances candidates are walking away from what they perceive to be toxic cultures, resisting firm return-to-office policies, and seeking out their next opportunity for growth in an environment that enables work-life balance. The debate between hiring for skills and hiring for experience rages on. The pandemic and ongoing economic uncertainties have disrupted the “traditional” career path for so many, reshaping the body of their experience in new and unexpected ways. Employers are still slow, however, to welcome twists and turns in career experience, and the agility, fresh perspective, and new skills that can come from career pivots. Erin Mastel

Employer branding matters more than ever

In a competitive talent market, it is more important than ever for organisations to have a strong employer brand.

An uncertain economy no longer guarantees employee retention. Employers will need to work doubly hard not only to articulate their employer brands, but to visibly enact them in ways that are actually meaningful to their people. Erin Mastel

Read Erin’s observations and tips on how employer brand leaders and recruiting teams can best partner for success.


If you would like to discuss your talent retention and acquisition plans, please don’t hesitate to contact the Grace Blue team.