Emerging roles, evolving skills: Designing a growth-oriented resilience strategy

An emerging category of organizational resilience roles is putting growth front and center. How can the C-suite support these proactive roles when designing resilience strategies?

Timothy Murphy

United States

Bill Marquard

United States

Catalyzed in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for specialized resilience talent has skyrocketed since 2020. In our analysis of almost 4,000 publicly available role postings from 2019 to 2022, roles with “resilience” included in the job title grew 405% (see “Research methodology” at the end of the report to learn more). This growth permeates multiple levels of the organization, as manager level roles increased 364%, directors by 490%, and vice presidents (VPs) by 833% (figure 1).

COVID-19, coupled with a more interconnected and digital environment, meant businesses needed to seek out specialized talent to help the organization quickly respond, recover, and thrive within a new and ambiguous environment.1 But when additional disruptions—supply chain fissures, climate events, and geopolitical instability—quickly followed suit, an already ambiguous mandate grew in both scope and complexity.2

Taken together, some organizations were forced to “build the (resilience) plane while flying it,” reactively protecting the business while simultaneously looking ahead to prepare for whatever disruptions might be on the horizon.

This strategy may have provided a quick fix in that instance, but building the plane while flying it is an unsustainable approach to resilience. It can leave organizations one step behind each disruption, playing catch-up in acquiring new skills and backgrounds as the role of resilience within the organization continues to evolve.

To better understand how these resilience roles have evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic and begin to identify opportunities for leaders to build more holistic resilience strategies, we conducted a deep dive into publicly available job postings, dissecting the role postings with “resilience” in the title to systematically understand which skills and backgrounds organizations pursued throughout this resilience hiring boom.

Growth gets squeezed

In some respects, organizations seem to be following an expected path in designing their resilience roles. This is especially true for resilience managers and vice presidents (VPs). For instance, our roles-based research shows in 2022, the top five skills and backgrounds cited in “VP of resilience” role postings were financial risk management, systems design and implementation, business strategy, public relations, and cyber security. The profile of a resilience manager looks similar as their role postings maintain the same top five skills (though, in a slightly different order of priority).

On the surface, these may feel directionally correct. Resilience is about protecting the bottom line (financial risk management), standing up processes to react swiftly to crisis and disruption (systems design and implementation), integrating resilience into strategy (business strategy), managing public perception during crisis (public relations), and historically, protecting against cyber breaches and vulnerabilities (cyber security).3 It also seems appropriate that downstream managers would align to the priorities at the VP level.

Resilience should balance reactive protection with proactive growth, but the talent market appears to be bifurcating those two mandates and sandwiching growth responsibilities between VP and manager levels.

But there’s more to the story. In the middle of the organizational structure, there is an emerging category of director-level roles focused on business development and sales, two hallmarks of growth (figure 2). Specifically, unlike their upstream and downstream peers, resilience directors are asked to focus on business management, general sales, business development, and engineering management.4 Resilience should balance reactive protection with proactive growth, but the talent market appears to be bifurcating those two mandates and sandwiching growth responsibilities between VP and manager levels.5 This may be due to organizational leaders recognizing the need to get ahead of future disruptions but still needing to commit operational resources (like managers) to addressing more near-term issues facing the business.

This category of growth-focused resilience leaders is a relatively new phenomenon. As shown in figure 3, with the exception of business strategy, the top skills required for a director of resilience in 2022 were not even in the top 10 skills required for other resilience roles prior to the pandemic in 2019; and skills like general sales backgrounds were as low as the 36th cited skill just four years ago. This stands in stark contrast to VPs and managers of resilience, where our roles research shows the top five skills in 2022 were also in the top 10 prior to COVID-19. And, the director profile in 2019 was nearly identical to its VP and manager peers with business strategy, financial risk management, cyber security, systems design and implementation, and public relations all in the top 10.

The general language used to describe the resilience director role is also shifting to include more growth and innovation-oriented descriptions. For instance, the appearance of the word “growth” has nearly doubled in director role descriptions since 2019 (up from 31% in 2019 to 61% in 2022), while words like “crisis” and “mitigation” decreased by more than 50% over the same time period (figure 4). Manager and VP roles did not follow a similar trend.  

Supporting growth by design

While organizations may want to integrate growth into their resilience strategies, they may be unintentionally boxing it in by having VP-level leadership focus on more traditional resilience responsibilities and at the same time, not providing directors with the requisite managerial support to execute upon their growth mandates. Possibly compounding the issue, the onslaught of disruptions may make it difficult for leaders to commit to a more future-oriented strategy while wrestling with near-term threats.

In an interview with Deloitte, a general manager of a German telecommunications company told us that a lot of this near-term pressure is due to how the organization incentivizes employee work and outcomes for resilience: “They just don’t have a culture of innovation and planning for the future. … Firms are very myopic. Especially as you start going down the ladders of leadership, a lot of it is very execution oriented. It’s all targeted toward the year-end and the bonuses and the incentives for showing you met your goals.”6

When working to design a more congruent and holistic resilience talent model, organizations can improve executive coordination and role design to help ensure growth is brought to the forefront of tackling disruption.

Putting a spotlight on leadership

Type “chief resilience officer” into any search engine and several headlines alluding to the “rise of the chief resilience officer” will likely pop up. But our analysis shows this may be premature or possibly inaccurate. While organizations are seeking VPs, directors, and managers of resilience, the demand for chief resilience officers is essentially nonexistent. In 2019, there were nine role postings for a chief resilience officer; that number only increased to 14 by 2022 at time when 175 VP roles were posted in the same period.

It’s plausible this may be due to more executive level roles not being publicly posted and instead left to the efforts of recruiters; however, if we contrast the chief resilience officer role to another emerging executive role like chief sustainability officer, we see a completely different story. In 2019, there were 115 chief sustainability roles posted. By 2022, that number increased 2.5 times to 286.

Without C-suite representation, resilience could be left without a voice at the executive table—removing an opportunity to share a consistent enterprise-wide vision. The Global resilience report, authored by Deloitte Global, highlights the impact of this leadership void, as only one-third of leaders describe resilience within their business as “a strategic priority with executive sponsorship and end-to-end capabilities."7 Closely related, four out of five leaders in the report believe their organization should create a chief resilience officer role within the next five years.

Given the C-suite leadership void, organizations can consider the following actions to help ensure a clear and consistent vision for resilience:

  • Get a jump on the leadership market. Some industries are getting a head start on building their resilience talent. While professional services initially led the charge, other industries like financial services, retail, and the public sector have recently increased their pursuit of resilience talent.8 And in terms of chief resilience officers, the public sector is establishing itself as an early mover (though still, a small number are being pursued). For instance, the state of Rhode Island recently opened a search for a chief resilience officer to design a “comprehensive climate-preparedness strategy."9 Given the relatively small job market for chief resilience officers at the moment, there may be no better time to seek executive level leadership for resilience—especially as organizations look to balance reactionary measures with more growth-oriented initiatives.
  • Create consensus on growth-oriented KPIs. Resilience is often more difficult to measure than something like a sales team hitting its targets. When it comes to prevention and preparing for uncertainty, it can be difficult to quantify how an intervention prevented a potential event from happening (or not happening). And when resilience KPIs do exist, they are usually focused on more reactive metrics for financial (for example, cash flow during crisis) and operational (for example, supplier health) performance.10 Despite these issues, executives could still have an opportunity to establish more proactive resilience metrics, although it may mean coming to consensus on where the organization can benefit most from building more resilient growth. For instance, is a shift from lean manufacturing to a more diversified field of suppliers necessary? Should the organization expand into new markets to ensure a more resilient consumer base? One chief digital officer for a consumer package goods company in France explains how resilience metrics can act as an innovation catalyst that demonstrates how effectively the organization is meeting new market needs:11 “How fast the company can innovate is easy to measure. You look at the share of growth coming from new products and new service launches. If that KPI is high—or it’s growing—that’s a good sign.”

These actions can reinforce one another as well. Organizations with a chief resilience officer can lean on that individual’s expertise to work with the business strategy to identify the most appropriate growth KPIs. And alternatively, if the organization doesn’t have a chief resilience officer, KPIs can help fill the void by ensuring the entire organization is working towards the same resilience objectives.

Widening the aperture on resilience strategy

Though not the most frequently cited skills and backgrounds, we also explored which areas are gaining momentum (for example, skills that may not have risen to the top 10 but have experienced growth in demand over the last four years). Unlike the rapid evolution of director roles, managers and VPs seem to be experiencing more subtle changes in skills, specifically in terms of experience with sustainability and supply chains.

For managers, backgrounds in energy and environmental solutions are becoming a key focus area for resilience talent. Figure 5 shows backgrounds in environmental work, energy solutions, energy management, and energy efficiency rising through the ranks—perhaps offering an early signal where the role will focus in the future. 

At the VP level, figure 6 highlights the emerging importance of having supplier relationship management backgrounds at a time when lean manufacturing background is declining in importance. This aligns to the shift away from just-in-time manufacturing and toward building more redundancy into the supply chain to ensure the supply chain ecosystem isn’t vulnerable to external shocks.12

Both climate and supply chain are core business issues today (and in the case of climate, over a much longer time horizon). When organizations develop these resilience roles, they often naturally adjust the necessary skills and backgrounds to reflect these needs. However, as resilience is also meant to be forward-looking and proactive, there may be risk in designing these roles by exclusively looking to the recent past for guidance.

Instead, leaders can consider the following to help better integrate future-oriented skills and backgrounds and ensure a more balanced resilience function:

  • Move to dynamic scenario planning. Dynamic scenario planning can be a powerful means to explore a variety of future states. Whereas scenario planning used to be a point-in-time exercise, dynamic scenario planning is meant to continuously analyze multiple possible scenarios of what the future may hold (for example, changing economic environments, customer preferences, technological innovations) and adjusts and adapts strategic plans in near real-time to align to the shifting environments. Further, advances in artificial intelligence (AI)—especially in the realm of generative AI (an artificial intelligence that creates original content, imagery, and audio through machine learning)—can help leaders turn data into a discovery engine for planning and forecasting. Specifically, these advances can explore how humans can collaborate with generative AI to challenge assumptions and reimagine a world of possible outcomes across a variety of scenarios.13
  • Bring focus and clarity to organizational definitions of resilience. It can be easy for resilience to become a “fuzzy” concept as it can mean different things to different people. However, some leaders are making sure they select a few important areas on which to focus their efforts. For instance, one chief operating officer responsible for resilience at a global financial services company explained that they consider finances, operations, and sustainability all as part of their resiliency strategy, asking how they can adapt, thrive, and evolve to maintain pace with dynamic changes and manage resilience among multiple competing priorities.14 If leaders want to reframe resilience through a more growth-oriented lens, they can start by identifying the areas where they want to excel in the future. For example, if a business wants to be a leader in addressing climate change, the resilience strategy can go beyond simply preparing for climate events (like a plant closing because of a flood) and instead, begin hiring talent that understands how to rethink product innovation through a more climate-conscious lens.

Finding the growth throughline

It can be tempting to hyperfocus on the short-term when navigating uncertainty. But over-indexing on the present while making substantial talent investments in resilience can unintentionally force organizations to “lead through the rearview mirror” and handcuff their ability to grow through disruption. Instead, organizations can make resilience a more proactive endeavor through greater C-suite representation, a clear communication strategy, and ensuring the resilience talent being pursued also emphasizes more forward-looking skills, like dynamic scenario planning.

By putting growth at the forefront of resilience—and communicating it across the entire enterprise—leaders can turn disruption into transformational opportunities.

Research methodology

To understand how organizations are pursuing resilience talent, we analyzed publicly available role postings that cover a wide array of industries in both the public and private sector (60 unique industries represented).15 From this data set, we limited our analysis to roles with “resilience” in the job title and categorized these roles into different levels of the organization (for example, chief resilience officers, VPs of resilience, directors of resilience, and managers of resilience).


To benchmark what these roles looked like prior to the pandemic, we opened our sample to include postings from 2019 to 2022 (the last full year of data).


Finally, we leveraged a skills and backgrounds taxonomy (over 32,000 different skills categorizations represented within the database) to see which types of expertise were most often pursued throughout the years (for example, experience with financial risk modeling would be categorized as “financial risk management”).

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Timothy Murphy

United States

Bill Marquard

United States


  1. Punit Renjen, The journey of resilient leadership: Building organizational resilience, Deloitte Insights, December 2, 2020.

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  2. Bill Marquard, Tim Johnson, Abigail Worsfold, and Timothy Murphy, “One size doesn’t fit all: Four postures toward resilience,” Deloitte, May 2023.

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  3. Each of these themes are extensively covered in: Nathan Spitse, Eddie Chiu, Tim Johnson, Jean-Francois Allard, Abigail Worsfold, Jose Maria Fernandez Lachica, and Damian Walch, Toward true organizational resilience: Deloitte’s Global Resilience Report, October 2022.

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  4. Insights derived from ranking the total number of roles that cited each of these specific skills and backgrounds.

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  5. From the skills rankings created through our analysis, we demonstrate that the more traditional resilience skills reside at the VP and manager levels, while the more growth orientated skills are present in the middle of the organization at the Director level.

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  6. In late 2022, we conducted 20 interviews with global executives to understand how leaders are activating resilience within their business. Each interviewee held a c-suite or executive VP position at a multi-billion-dollar company (minimum US$4 billion in annual revenues). 

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  7. Ibid.

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  8. When exploring the portion of roles posted by industry, professional services were the “early movers,” posting more roles than any other industry. By 2022, professional services greatly decreased their hiring while all other industries cumulatively increased their roles postings.

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  9. R.I. to hire new chief resilience officer to combat climate change,” Providence Business News, May 2023.

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  10.  Bill Marquard, Tim Johnson, Abigail Worsfold, and Timothy Murphy, “One size doesn’t fit all: Four postures toward resilience,” Deloitte, May 2023.

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  11. Ibid.

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  12. Willy Shih, “From just-in-time to just-in-case: Is excess and obsolete next?Forbes, January 30, 2022.

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  13. Sheryl Estrada, “The future of finance will include generative A.I., says an MIT researcher,” Fortune, January 25, 2023.

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  14. From Deloitte focus groups on resilience talent management conducted in May 2023.

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  15. All analysis was conducted through accessing Burning Glass.

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The authors would like to issue a special thank you to Dr. Narasimham Mulakaluri from Deloitte Insight’s Data Science and Survey Advisory Group for the tremendous work capturing the insights presented in this piece.

The authors would also like to thank Deloitte’s core project team including Aditya Narayan for assisting with the research and analysis; Saurabh Rijhwani, Ireen Jose, and Andrew Ashenfelter for their marketing support.

Cover image by: Manya Kuzemchenko