12 CEOs predict their biggest challenges in 2023


By Pavithra Mohan

Many company leaders are breathing a sigh of relief as 2022 wraps up and they settle in for a much-needed reprieve this holiday season, but it won’t last long. As founders and executives look toward next year, they’re likely thinking about the many intractable challenges they tackled over the last 12 months, between the long tail of the pandemic and ongoing economic turmoil. Even so, some of them are cautiously optimistic about what next year has in store, whether they’re looking to expand their footprint or navigating an increasingly hostile political climate.

We asked a group of CEOs what they’ll be focusing on in 2023, including what they see as their most daunting challenges:


12 CEOs predict their biggest challenges in 2023

Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global

“We’ve been growing steadily since we launched in 2016. Back then, we had to make the case to CEOs that they should care about burnout and employee well-being. We no longer have to make the case—they get it. What they want now are tools to support the well-being of their people. They want to go from awareness to action. To meet that demand, we’ve often had to move and grow very quickly. We’re very purpose-driven; we all deeply believe in our mission to end the stress and burnout epidemic. But being mission-driven doesn’t mean you’re immune from burnout. So we have to be very mindful about taking our own science and technology to heart and growing in a way that’s sustainable for the long-term.”

Tammy Sun, cofounder and CEO of Carrot Fertility

“Destigmatizing menopause in the workplace [is] a challenge that I’m excited to tackle. We’ve made great progress over the last several years with offering fertility benefits and having more open and transparent conversations about things like egg freezing and IVF at work, but we’re just now scratching the surface with conversations about menopause. I think there’s a great opportunity for more companies to offer menopause benefits to better support and retain women in senior positions. I’m hoping a year from now, when we’re reflecting on 2023, we can say we’ve made significant progress.”

Todd McKinnon, cofounder and CEO of Okta

“[We need to] keep our teams focused on the long-term opportunities while navigating ongoing uncertainty. We’re investing thoughtfully for growth, staying hyper focused on prioritizing a few core areas that are critical to our business while also ensuring we’re doing it in a way that maximizes productivity and efficiency. We also know hybrid work is not going away, so continuing to invest in our people and fostering a strong workplace culture remain top of mind.”

Adrianne Nickerson, cofounder and CEO of Oula

“The majority of women are looking for an alternative to the impersonal and transactional maternity care experience that is the default in the U.S. In 2023, we are focused on expanding awareness that midwives are foundational to the better experience women deserve. We’ve seen this through our patients’ experiences as well as our own, and the data is there, too. The World Health Organization has said that collaborative care, which brings together doctors and midwives, is one of the very best models for improving health outcomes. Midwifery-led care leads to lower rates of preterm birth, lower cesarean birth rates, and rates of vaginal birth after C-section that are nearly twice as high, not to mention lower childbirth costs—all things we see at Oula.”

Immad Akhund, cofounder and CEO of Mercury

“There’s a tightrope to walk between investing for growth and being conservative. It’s a careful dance to make sure we take advantage of the opportunity to grow, but don’t overextend ourselves amid uncertain market conditions. Mercury is also in a crowded fintech landscape, and we need to communicate our value to the market while building and maintaining trust within that landscape.”

Laura Modi, cofounder and CEO of Bobbie

“What makes Bobbie so special [is] our community of customers and the love they have for us as a pillar of support during year one of parenting, rather than [the] product alone. Making sure we don’t lose sight of [that] is my north star. When you lead with a people- and community-first approach, the business growth will follow.”

Sandro Roco, founder and CEO of Sanzo

“Despite the broader macro news, our brand is set up for significant strategic growth in 2023. So I see the main challenge as just making sure we’re staying focused on the ambitious team goals we’ve set internally. 2023 will be a big year of listening to our core consumers and retail partners, and responding to what they need from us. How do we continue connecting with our core consumers in an ever-evolving digital marketing landscape? Where do our core consumers want to see Sanzo? And how do we best engage with our retail partners to make sure we’re in-stock and well-merchandised to take advantage of potential opportunities?”

Kiki Freedman, cofounder and CEO of Hey Jane

“We’re facing an uncertain political climate and a cadre of lawmakers who aim to limit access to this common medical need. But we’re undaunted, and will continue providing excellent care that makes our patients feel supported, validated, and valued.”

Sara Mauskopf, cofounder and CEO of Winnie

“It’s no secret there’s going to be economic uncertainty in 2023. Childcare was already unaffordable for many families and tough economic conditions will only increase the burden on families of affording childcare. As the CEO of a childcare marketplace, I am anticipating a big focus of Winnie in 2023 will be our work to help more families access and afford child care. We’ll be continuing initiatives like our free and subsidized child care, but also investing in new areas like special needs child care to help the most vulnerable families and children access this essential service.”

Lauren Makler, cofounder and CEO of Cofertility 

“One challenge that is always on my mind is how to best time growing the team with the needs of the business. You don’t want to hire someone too long before you need them (hello, recession!), but if you don’t time it right, your existing team runs the risk of moving too fast with inadequate resources. It’s something I had to navigate when Cofertility launched in October and a challenge I hope I can effectively tackle as we continue to grow throughout 2023.”

Liana Douillet Guzmán, CEO of Folx Health

“We live in a world that is simultaneously creating more space for our community and trying to regulate us. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that healthcare is a partisan issue. We saw companies like mine and Stix (which offers emergency contraceptive pills) quickly mobilize to denounce these laws in defense of [our] communities. As we head into a presidential race, companies like ours must remain vocal in support—and defense—of our respective communities.”

Sarahjane Sacchetti, CEO of Cleo

“Parents and caregivers in our workforce are the bullseye of the burnout epidemic. They’re disproportionately women, and are up against unprecedented and intensifying barriers including burnout, productivity, and equity and advancement. 2023 will mark the first year Cleo will fulfill our vision to support every age and stage of working families and caregivers. Our data shows us that 72% of parents are feeling burdened from parenting and caregiving; 42% of parents and caregivers are feeling isolated or not connected, and that 57% of parents and caregivers lost at least one day of work over the last month due to caregiving responsibilities. These are huge challenges to step into solving in partnership with our global employer clients, and I’m looking forward to driving change.”

Fast Company