In the latest Vietnam Innovators podcast episode, Ross Macallister, the Managing Partner of KPMG’s Consulting Services in Vietnam and Cambodia, shared insights into his pivotal role in guiding businesses through transformation. Over the past seven years, Ross Macallister has overseen the growth and evolution of KPMG’s consulting arm, navigating its trajectory from its early stages to a thriving, expansive practice.
Ross’s focus was initially on building the foundation of the consulting business, developing local talent, and broadening the range of solutions and services. As the practice matured, his role transformed into that of a coach, mentor, leader, and day-to-day manager, adapting to the changing needs of a larger and more complex consulting business. With a journey that resembled a startup, Ross addressed not only financial and operational aspects but also embarked on market-making endeavors, fostering education and awareness within the local business landscape.
The consulting areas overseen by Ross’s team encompass a broad spectrum of expertise, mirroring the offerings of mature practices worldwide. KPMG Vietnam and Cambodia’s consulting practice covers systems integration, financial management, HR and change management, customer-centric solutions, operations, and risk consulting. These areas cater to various industry sectors, with a particular emphasis on financial services, telecommunications, technology, and manufacturing.
Ross’s unique approach to consulting in the Vietnam context blends strategic vision with hands-on implementation. Unlike traditional consulting practices where advice often ends with strategy, KPMG’s focus extends beyond, ensuring that recommendations are effectively put into action and produce tangible results. This involves a diverse team of professionals, many of whom possess industry experience alongside their consulting backgrounds. Ross’s leadership emphasizes not only crafting strategies but also orchestrating their successful execution, ultimately driving meaningful and sustainable business transformation.
To him, success in business transformation is multifaceted and varies across industries and projects. Defining success requires articulating clear, measurable objectives from the outset. Success metrics encompass financial gains, growth, cost efficiency, customer satisfaction, and enhanced employee capabilities. KPMG’s definition of success spans a spectrum, from market entry to technology adoption and employee empowerment.
Balancing Humans and Technology in Business Transformation
In the discussion with Hao Tran, Ross emphasized the vital role of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), in shaping modern businesses. He pulled parallels with history, noting how technological advancements have consistently boosted productivity, mirroring the ongoing shift in Vietnam towards tech-driven strategies.
A harmonious collaboration between humans and AI emerges as a key focus in this transformation. While AI excels in speed and accuracy, it lacks the emotional understanding, intuition, and cultural awareness that humans possess. Ross believes “technology is here to augment what humans do, not replace it.” Essential human qualities like leadership, innovation, change management, and ethical considerations remain invaluable complements to technological innovation.
Business transformation transcends technology; it embraces the human side of change. Ross underscores the role of strong leadership in clarifying the transformation vision and garnering support. Effective leadership translates complex concepts into understandable narratives that unify teams.
Creating a supportive environment is equally essential. Embracing innovation and targeted training empowers employees to adapt to new approaches. Encouraging a culture where learning from mistakes is encouraged fosters willingness to embrace change. Navigating the emotional journey tied to transformation requires human skills like change management.
Transformation for All: Navigating Change Across Businesses
The transformation journey may seem overwhelming in Vietnam, where small and medium businesses dominate. Ross offers a solution—breaking down the transformation into manageable stages, each yielding measurable value. This approach allows smaller businesses to embark on the journey steadily, with focused investments in high-value, low-cost initiatives.
Central to KPMG’s vision is the role of people in driving business transformation. The “Make the Difference” campaign underscores the pivotal contribution of KPMG’s skilled professionals. Four solution suites—Powered, Connected, Trusted, and Elevate—form the pillars of KPMG’s strategic approach, all fortified by a commitment to recruit individuals with diverse skill sets, industry insight, and a global perspective.
Watch the full episode here