Deloitte Southeast Asia is a shining example of how resource pooling can bring an organisation to greater heights. With ASEAN integration effort as the ultimate agenda, ProspectsASEAN talks to Nizar Najib, Executive Director at Deloitte about his journey, generation Y and leveraging on ASEAN’s expanding market to do business.
Could you please share with us your journey as a consultant?
After graduating from the University of Nottingham in 2000 and many ways, I was soul searching, and I ended up joining a consulting firm called Accenture. At that time, it was a dot com boom and technology is Accenture’s niche. I was with Accenture for two and a half years, and along the way, there’s some ups and downs. I eventually jumped into taking professional paper called ICAEW.
Why did you choose accountancy initially and how did you end up where you are now?
It’s a good place to start your career, to become a working professional. It provides a strong fundamental; the options are wide for you.
I started some time in Audit, then moved on to consultancy, and now I am in financial advisory. The financial advisory is different from consulting, which focuses on two areas. One is Mergers & Acquisition (M&A), and another is crisis management.
M&A advises companies on mergers and acquisition, in which we focus on both buy-side and sell-side advisory works. For example, we advise the companies on exit opportunities if they no longer wish to continue their business or to allow another company to take the acquire to another level. We also advise companies that seek to acquire another company. These were the fundamentals that set the motion for me to focus on M&A at Deloitte.
What was the most challenging crisis you have ever faced?
The challenge lies mainly in managing clients’ expectation. If you are successful in one transaction, achieving high valuations for the transaction, it might not be possible to replicate this success in another transaction, which may be hard as other transactions could occur in other industries. Managing client expectations is the hardest, and it creates a competitive tension.
As part of your portfolio, do you only handle Malaysian transactions?
The Partners within ASEAN came together to establish Deloitte SEA to pool together their resources, and hence I handle more cross-border transactions. So now, Deloitte SEA is under the same profit pool, and hence it reduces tension between Deloitte across ASEAN. The good thing about this, is now associates can apply for secondments across SEA easily.
What is your strategy when it comes to competing with larger investments banks in Malaysia?
At Deloitte, we don’t go after the billion dollar deals as what larger investments banks do. Deloitte Malaysia focuses on mid-market deals, typically deals with valuations between $50m to $500m. Sometimes, Deloitte does take transactions below these valuations depending on circumstances. Given Deloitte’s extensive network globally, Deloitte has a competitive advantage regarding leveraging on expertise and resources from all across the world, which allows us to find buyers more efficiently and hence we compete over banks such as CIMB.
What are some the key challenges you face when dealing with the Gen-Y talents?
They value work life balance; they change jobs typically every two years. Gen Y based on observations from my colleagues is more reluctant to work longer hours. But the greater advantages of Gen Y are the fact that you are all tech savvy and learn a lot more these days because of the development of the internet, which allows them to source more knowledge and gain more than those from previous generations.
What is your advice for the younger generations?
Two- Developing business language and improve public speaking skills. If you have the opportunity, study other languages to gain a competitive advantage. You have to be good and understand technology with the prevalence of data analysis and data technology. Cyber security is also a big issue nowadays.
What characteristic do you value most in a fresh graduate?
There needs to be a basic threshold, for UK graduates the minimum requirement is 2:1 unless you are exceptional in other areas such as sports. We also look into the attitude of the graduate and most importantly is resourcefulness. It’s very important for individuals to be resourceful, to seek knowledge and solve problems pragmatically. Learn about a lot of ways to get things done.