Trends in globalisation and in digitisation have motivated many organisations to expand or shift their business focus to adapt to the evolving economic landscape.
That is the same case for global professional services firms network KPMG.
Where once its audit and tax claimed a bigger portion of their business, its advisory component is now on the increase.
Through its 200,000 headcount in member firms operating in 154 countries and territories, KPMG helps its clientele transform business models or advise on cross-border tax issues, while its advisory practice helps reshape healthcare systems, lead cyber-security projects and help organisations take advantage of new market opportunities.
“Our business is people — when we talk to clients, it is straightforward; we must fully understand their respective businesses and problems and more importantly provide solutions to the problems. To do that we need a blend of skills,” said Iain McLaughlin, KPMG global head of resourcing.
To advise in areas like management perspective, risk consulting and deal advisory, McLaughlin said, apart from being up to speed in emerging skills and technologies like digitisation, blockchain and robotics, KPMG talents must be able to converse in a business environment, communicate creatively and critically think about providing solutions.
“We put a real focus in lifelong learning. We pride ourselves having the ability to focus and invest in our talents — all 200,000 of them. We provide on the job training for people working at all levels and formal training in a focused fashion,” he said.
Head of digital strategy at KPMG in Malaysia, Alvin Gan, said with the rise of the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, what the network of professional services strives to provide its clients was value creation as well as a culture of change.
“These are two key ingredients that we instil in our clients and ourselves. In terms of people that we bring in, they are not pure technology people, but rather those who recognise digital technology as a disruptor and the opportunity it represents. Those who understand the value of adopting technology and driving business with tech,” he said.
The requirement for talents to have a balanced blend of skills was reflected in the recently concluded 2018 KPMG International Case Competition (KICC) finals in Kuala Lumpur.
In the competition, university students in groups of four were immersed in the fast-paced world of casework and got to test their ability to develop innovative, real-world business solutions.
All told, KICC attracted more than 21,000 student applications, from 498 universities across 22 countries. Twenty-two teams competed head-to-head in the finals, presenting solutions to complex business challenges on the topics of innovation and the sharing economy.
“When you enter KICC, you’re starting an exciting journey: one filled with continuous learning, self-improvement and the opportunity to prove yourself. You’ll get the chance to experience the type of work our member firms undertake, while also receiving valuable coaching from KPMG leaders and industry experts,” said McLaughlin.
As national winners, representatives of each country had also earned an opportunity to apply for an internship with KPMG.
At the four-day finals, the teams were presented with a series of complex business challenges to solve.
“This is a platform to showcase agile thinking and prove that you’re ready to embark on a successful career. KICC exemplifies the way our people go above and beyond to address the diverse issues member firms’ clients face,” said McLaughlin .
He said in KICC 2018 finals, there was an Innovation Challenge on Day 1. Each participating team were mixed and had four participants from different countries.
“The competition format varies from year to year but teams should be ready for anything.”
During each stage of the competition, teams were given a detailed case study to consider - and the rest were up to them. For each round, they had three hours to review the dossier given and identify and analyse key business issues, as well as develop a compelling set of recommendations. These then had to be presented to a panel of judges.
Students were evaluated on critical skills, such as communications, analysis and reporting, innovation and agility to adapt in a fast-paced environment - incorporating feedback given to them by a panel of KPMG judges and coaches. In the final round of competition, the three finalist teams were tasked with developing a strategy for a Southeast Asian ride-sharing company that would create the greatest long-term value and sustainability for the business.
“KICC challenges some of the most accomplished students in the world to apply their talents and capabilities to real-life business issues. It’s an intense week of competition and the students get to see the impact their ideas can have as they embark on their careers and grow into future business leaders,” said Susan Ferrier, Global Head of People, KPMG International.
“The competition builds camaraderie and the students gain from the relationships they build with their fellow competitors from around the world.”
Team Germany from WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar emerged the winner of KICC 2018, beating teams representing Switzerland and Vietnam.
“KICC has been amazing and we are so excited and proud to be the 2018 champions,” said Anna-Maria Gerk of the German team.
“The competition is hard work, but we’ve learned so much and had a lot fun with our new friends from other countries. It has been a once in a lifetime experience.”
“Congratulations to this year’s champions. They demonstrated incredible insight with their innovative solution to a very complex business case,” said McLaughlin.
“All the 88 students who competed this year’s finals were truly impressive. Across the board, the judges have been wowed by their out-of-the-box ideas, ability to solve tough issues, as well as their sheer enthusiasm.”