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Macallister, who was part of China’s “1,000 Foreign Experts” programme and has spent decades advising clients on complex business and IT programmes and projects, talked to VIR’s Tuan Quang about the opportunities he sees in Vietnam for the business and how the team would take advantage of these opportunities.
You have had 34 years of hands-on multi-sector experience across both emerging and mature markets, encompassing Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Asia-Pacific. What made you decide to stay in Vietnam and join KPMG?
During my career, I have been privileged to visit many countries in Southeast Asia, but never Vietnam. I did some research, and it was clear that Vietnam was a high-growth market with just about the right level of readiness for consulting solutions to really make an impact. Moreover, there is a “can-do” attitude wherever you go, and I like that.
As the leader of Consulting Services at KPMG Vietnam, what sorts of trends do you see emerging in the industry?
In many ways, I see similar trends happening in Vietnam as in other parts of Asia. Many local firms have grown quickly, and now need to professionalise, and align internally if they are to sustain their growth. They are big but they are not strong, as the saying goes. As Vietnam continues to integrate with the global economy, we will see excellent opportunities as well as challenges for Vietnamese businesses. Right now, our clients are seeking help with gaining competitive advantage from enabling technology and building strength into their back-office functions. However, in the not-too-distant future I expect that we will start to see an increasing demand for more customer-related consulting services, as the business environment matures.
This context presents a lot of opportunities for KPMG Consulting Services. What steps is the division taking to make the most of these opportunities?
Our consulting services have grown at a terrific pace over the last couple of years. To continue to thrive, firms like ours must always ensure we satisfy the three goals of “service, satisfaction, and success”. That means getting the right balance between the demands of the client marketplace, the realities of the talent market, and our own economic ambition. There are many steps that will need to be taken – and that’s exciting, as well as challenging.
What about the challenges and difficulties? What will be the most significant challenge for the team over the next five years?
My biggest concern is without doubt acquiring the right talent. Professional Services is a growing market and I feel the opportunities in the short- to medium-term are far greater than the available pool of local talent in the market to serve them. This means we need to be able to draw upon a resource pool of global talent, as and when required, to serve our Vietnam-based clients’ needs. With 155 offices around the world, and 170,000 professional staff, we can do this.