That was six months ago. Since then I’ve had much more exposure to general management, which for me is a great benefit. There are lots of opportunities here because Transaction Services is a relatively new service line. Some of the countries, such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, have longer established and more developed practices but countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan are only recently active in this area.
I work across the whole of the MESA region and I’d say on average Transaction Services is currently 10 years behind Europe. But it’s catching up fast. It’s one of the fastest growing areas, and very profitable. It’s my job to make sure KPMG firms stay in line with the market, gain a decent market share and become a leader. And to do that we need experienced international staff.
Business culture here is very different and different parts of the MESA region have their own approaches to doing things. For example, with the Indian or Pakistani way of doing business you need patience; decisions take longer, so you just need to adjust to doing things more slowly. Whereas the Arab way of business is about cultivating relationships and trust.
It’s been great to help build up a practice and develop relations at all levels. One really good thing about business in the MESA region is how much easier it is to access people in high places: CEOs, banks, the royal family, which is great for business development.
But you can’t expect to walk in here and be as direct as you would be in Europe. You need soft skills to get what you want and I’ve really developed them here.
I’ve traveled all my life with KPMG so I’m used to being away. But moving country with your family is really different, much more emotional, and I underestimated this. But the communities here in Dubai where I live are really open. We decided to live in an area that has a mix of western and Arab populations, because we want to enjoy the local flavor.
The social life here is great. With a little effort you can make new friends, and the networks you build up really enrich your life.