What CEOs Are Saying: 2023 ‘Is the Year of Efficiency’

Leaders from Meta, Apple, Ford and other companies talk about business and consumer spending, AI and hiring plans.

Here is what some of the world’s corporate leaders said this week about business and consumer spending, the supply chain and other topics.

Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg:

“I want to discuss my management theme for 2023, which is the year of efficiency. We closed last year with some difficult layoffs and restructuring some teams, and when we did this, I said clearly that this was the beginning of our focus on efficiency and not the end. And since then, we’ve taken some additional steps.”

United Parcel Service Inc. Chief Executive Carol Tomé:

“For us, it is a year of resilience. What does resilience mean? It means we will plan conservatively and pivot quickly. It means we will balance defensive and offensive moves, and it means we will execute what we call our wildly important initiatives. Specifically, we will balance efficiency moves with growth opportunities.”

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Jim Farley:

“We have deeply entrenched issues in our industrial system that have proven tough to root out. Candidly, the strength of our products and revenue has masked this dysfunctionality for a long time. It’s not an excuse, but it’s our reality. And we’re dealing with it urgently.”

General Motors Co. Chief Executive Mary Barra:

“We’ve seen a very strong customer interest in our products. And so, we think right now, we’re priced where we need to be. Of course, we’re going to monitor it, and we’ll make sure we remain competitive, but we really think with the strength of our product portfolio and what we have coming, we’re positioned well.”

Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Andy Jassy:

“I think most enterprises right now are acting cautiously. You see it with virtually every enterprise. I mean, we’re being very thoughtful about streamlining our costs as well. And when you are being cautious, you look for ways that you can find—you can spend less money.”

Honeywell International Inc. Chief Executive Darius Adamczyk:

“Why is the guidance wider than normal?…Probably this year more than ever, we try to have a little bit of a wider range, which is indicative of the uncertainty around the economic conditions. And I would say if I were comparing this year versus 2022 or 2021, it’s probably more uncertainty rather than less.”

Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of AlphabetPhoto: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News

Alphabet Inc. Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat:

“We are meaningfully slowing the pace of hiring in 2023 while still investing in priority areas. In Q4, we added 3,455 people…We will continue hiring in priority areas, with a particular focus on top engineering and technical talent as well as on the global footprint of our talent.”

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Chief Executive Lisa Su:

“Over the next several years, one of our largest growth opportunities is in AI, which is in the early stages of transforming virtually every industry, service and product. We expect AI adoption will accelerate significantly over the coming years.”

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. Chief Executive Ravi Kumar S:

“We see a strong push now to bring AI into business landscapes with the expectation that AI will re-engineer enterprises as completely as enterprise software did three decades ago. Of course, as clients navigate a challenging macro environment now, they need to fund their investments in digital transformation by executing cost and efficiency agendas.”

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook:

“From a supply point of view, we did see disruption from early November through most of December. And from a supply-chain point of view, we’re now at a point where production is what we need it to be. And so, the problem is behind us.”

Caterpillar Inc. Chief Executive Jim Umpleby:

“In the fourth quarter, we certainly did still experience inefficiencies associated with supply-chain challenges, and that had an impact on us because we are still doing things like workarounds, and it’s not anywhere as smooth as it needs to be.”

McDonald’s Corp. Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski:

“Overall, the consumer, whether it’s in Europe or the U.S., is actually holding up better than what we would have probably expected, or maybe what I would have expected, a year ago or six months ago…There is going to continue to be inflation. The environment is going to continue to be challenging, I think, from a macro standpoint.”

PulteGroup Inc. Chief Executive Ryan Marshall:

“We’ve talked a lot about affordability being the biggest challenge that we’ve had over the last several quarters. And I think affordability is going to continue to be the theme as we move through kind of 2023, not just in housing, but I think in all consumer spending. Consumers are feeling the affordability pinch.”

Clorox Co. Chief Executive Linda Rendle:

“We are not seeing significant pantry loading by consumers or changes in behavior as it relates to the pantry…We’re seeing some purchase cycles extend, as people try to make products work longer for them. They’re purchasing different sizes. So that’s changing the purchase cycle.”

Hershey Co. Chief Executive Michele Buck:

“We know that snacking has been on the rise, has continued to be on the rise…We know that there still is a bit more at-home behavior versus folks cutting back on going to restaurants. And certainly, that’s a benefit across packaged-goods snacking.”

Snap Inc. Chief Executive Evan Spiegel:

“It seems like advertising demand hasn’t really improved, but it hasn’t gotten significantly worse either…In general, it seems like our partners are just managing their spend very cautiously so that they can react quickly to any changes in the environment.”

Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Darren Woods:

“I think the driver behind the refining margins that we’ve seen here of late is driven by the pandemic impacts of shutting down capacity and then not having that capacity available as demand has recovered. So the world remains pretty tight, and it will stay—I think—tight while we wait for additional refinery expansions to come online, primarily out in Asia and the Middle East.”

Starbucks Corp. Interim Chief Executive Howard Schultz:

“While I was in Italy last summer, I discovered an enduring transformative new category and platform for the company, unlike anything I have ever experienced. The word I would use to describe it without giving too much away is alchemy. We won’t unveil details today, but it will be a game-changer, so stand by.”

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