The evolving role for Corporate Development Officers

October 20, 2016

By Bob Saada, US Deals Leader

corp_dev_conference_2I really enjoyed attending and meeting numerous Corporate Development Officers (CDOs) at the third annual Corporate Development Conference. Nearly 100 corporate development executives gathered for a series of panels and roundtable discussions on the current M&A landscape and the evolving role of the CDO.

One thing was clear from the conference program and my conversations throughout it and that is that CDOs have adapted and thrived in today’s deal landscape. With their sixth sense for opportunity, they are more positioned than ever to shape upcoming deals and are playing a bigger role in shaping corporate strategy as businesses search for growth and value creation in a low-growth environment.

Here are a few main themes that emerged from the event:

  • Normalized Rate of Deals: After historic levels of deal activity and dozens of high profile megadeals, the pace of deals is returning to a more normalized rate. Current trends are pointing to a stronger 2nd half 2016 and early 2017.
  • Cross Border Opportunities and Alliances: International combinations and strategic partnerships are also on the rise. Businesses are turning to cross-border transactions and unique non-traditional tie-ups to enter new markets, gain customers and fuel growth opportunities.
  • CDOs are Taking a Bigger Seat at the Table – CDOs have a more prominent role with the C-Suite and Boards. They are helping orchestrate the growth strategies of their organizations and senior leadership is counting on them to source, execute and ensure deal success.
  • Non-tech buying tech – CDOs now need to have broader knowledge across industry sectors (particularly in tech), not just their core sector. Why? PwC’s research shows that non-digital companies completed 48% more digital deals in 2015 than in 2011.1 My personal experience supports the research on the reasons for digital M&A deals as I’ve also seen these deals generally fall into 3 buckets: to acquire new digital products and services, drive new digital business models, or the digitization of the value chain.
  • Data and Analytics – Advancements in data and analytics are helping to reimagine how deals are done. CDOs are using more data and advanced analytics to capture a deal’s full value.
  • CDOs are Always-On, 24/7– Having the capability to be “deal ready” at all times is critical. CDOs are leading teams that are more agile, have technical and functional skills, and have international experience, enabling them to move fast on the latest opportunities.

I personally took away some great learnings and new connections from having attended the conference and look forward to participating again next year. It’s clear that CDOs will continue to have a positive impact on deals and their companies.


1”Will you be mine in the digital world?” March 2016, PwC/Strategy&“


Colin Wittmer

Deals Leader, PwC US Email

Curt Moldenhauer

Deals Solutions Leader, PwC US Tel: +1 (408) 817 5726 Email: