Home Insider Interview “Local Leadership Knows How to Operate in Myanmar”

“Local Leadership Knows How to Operate in Myanmar”

Interview with: Patrick Bryski

Executive Director with Deloitte’s Consulting Practice in Southeast Asia

Please explain to our readers about Deloitte in Myanmar.

Professionals at Deloitte Myanmar partner with other Deloitte teams in the region to deliver a mix of public and private sector service engagement, with our local team providing the in-depth local knowledge essential to navigate the local regulatory environment and in understanding the political, social, and context. Deloitte Myanmar professionals know the culture and local conditions, and help accelerate task execution to strengthen our services in the public sector.

In the public sector/donor agency space, Deloitte Myanmar has executed engagements in the energy, agriculture, private sector, and public financial management technical areas. Collectively, our experience and relationships within and outside government offer valuable insight into overall economic and administrative reforms that are underway in Myanmar.

In addition to our Consulting practice in Myanmar, we also provide the full range of professional services including Audit & Assurance, Financial Advisory, Risk Advisory and Tax & Legal services.

Could you tell me more about your duties and responsibilities?

I am an Executive Director with Deloitte’s Consulting practice in Southeast Asia and the Deloitte Southeast Asia International Donor Organizations Sector Leader under the Government & Public Services Industry group. In this group, we provide the full-range of consulting and advisory services to our government (National, provincial and local) clients, state-owned enterprise clients and other organizations that provide government services.  My day-to-day responsibilities revolve around the work we do for International Donor Organizations providing development assistance to the emerging countries of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar. 

How did you end up in current position?

I am originally from Canada and was raised overseas in Asia, the Middle East and Europe from an early age. I have always been interested in “things international” and after studying Finance and International Relations in university, I became an international banker.  My banking work took me across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific for about 15 years.  When the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union broke apart, I found myself doing banking work in places like China, Mongolia and Turkey, just as the new states of the Former Soviet Union were being established.  While working in Central Asia, I was struck by the poor policies that had led to such massive mis-development and decided that I would become a consultant and try to assist emerging countries with their reform efforts in order to improve the lives of their citizens.  That was 25 years ago and I have now worked in 85 different countries around the world!

What inspired Deloitte to start operations in Myanmar?

Myanmar has been growing rapidly. With the high GDP growth rate and the government’s commitment to improve the overall business environment, promote good governance, and stimulate greater local and foreign investments, Myanmar is certainly presenting many attractive opportunities for businesses. A number of Deloitte’s global and regional clients have started doing business in Myanmar or have plans to do so, and we are seeing a greater demand for world class professional services on the ground.

Deloitte officially opened its Myanmar practice in 2016 with the official integration of Myanmar Vigour with Deloitte Southeast Asia. Audit and other regulated services are provided by Myanmar Vigour & Associates Limited, and advisory and consulting services are provided by Deloitte Touche Myanmar Vigour Advisory Limited and Deloitte Consulting (Myanmar) Ltd respectively.

Deloitte’s consulting practice started in 2015 as Deloitte Consulting (Myanmar) Ltd – one of the first consulting practices.

Deloitte is a global company. What are the differences between working in Myanmar and other countries?

Myanmar is in a bit of a Golden Moment: the government is implementing a progressive reform effort; the International Donor Organizations are providing funding and technical assistance to support the reform effort; and the private sector is growing with considerable domestic and foreign investment mainly from across Asia Pacific. Many other emerging countries are not so fortunate.  The key will be to keep this unique set of circumstances going for as long as possible, to maximize the return on investment from all of the ongoing reform programs, to build sustainability across the public and private sectors, and to maximize the benefits to the people of Myanmar.  We have learned from our work around the world that it will be important to keep focused on the long-term development goals and sound plans to realize them, but to also ensure that the population benefits from reform programs today and tomorrow.  Their interests, naturally, are shorter-term.  It is a fine balance, but one that must be made to ensure the durability of reform programs and ongoing buy-in of the population.

What kind of services does Deloitte Myanmar provide for local and international companies?

In Myanmar, we serve clients “As One” by deploying the right Deloitte professionals in our engagements through structured, function-specific practice areas and globally integrated industry and service offerings.

Deloitte’s Consulting Practice in Southeast Asia

We are dedicated to bringing high standard of excellence in all service delivery areas through disciplined emphasis on the quality of our client relationships and interaction, the impact and outcomes we achieve for our clients, and the sustained growth and development of our professionals and counterpart staff.

Our multifunctional teams representing each of our service areas create client specific solutions that add value across an organization. Our clients benefit directly from our leadership in the industries we serve. Our proprietary research in these industries generates both effective business solutions and thoughtful leadership that we share through seminars, whitepapers and other media. We build cross-functional teams for each engagement that draw on our specialized expertise in multiple disciplines and industries/ sectors.

The areas in which we focus can be generally grouped into the following broad areas of technical assistance, often referred to as Economic Governance:

  1. Public Sector Reform: Public Financial Management, Tax Reform, Budget Administration and Execution, Legal and Regulatory Reform, among other areas;
  2. Financial Sector Reform: Central Bank Strengthening, Bank Restructuring, Insurance and Pension Reform, Capital Markets Development, Access to Finance, IFRS and Accounting Reform, among other areas;
  3. Private Sector Development: Business Regulatory Reform, Legal and Regulatory Reform in support of domestic and foreign investment, MSME Development and Finance, Privatization, Infrastructure Development, among other areas

Who are your major competitors and what are your competitive strategies in Myanmar?

Our major competitors are the other large professional services firms operating in the country.  From a consulting perspective, our competitors also include big management consulting firms.

What is your view on consultancy work in the public sector?

We see the public sector as a vitally important market for us.  The government is on a reform journey and we are very interested in supporting those efforts.  We do have extensive experience from our on-going work in Myanmar, across Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific, and from emerging countries across the globe.  We feel that our experience of helping countries with similar challenges combined with our team members who have the necessary expertise to assist the public sector reform, offers a great recipe for success.  With our strong and growing local team, we have the right combination of local capabilities and international best practices to very effectively support the public sector in Myanmar.

What are the future expansion plans?

We are continuing to hire aggressively across all of our business units in Myanmar as Myanmar is a key country within our Southeast Asia practice, and has been growing in the double digits for several years.

What difficulties did you face while operating in Myanmar?

There are no real operating challenges.  Our local leadership knows how to operate in the country and we take our lead from them.  The length of time it takes International Donor Programs to be developed, procured and started is a challenge in all emerging countries and Myanmar is no exception.  We look forward to the many donor programs across the public sector to accelerate.

From a business standpoint, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing you and your team in next 1-3 years?

Two primary challenges come to mind: 1) Competition with international and local firms for the best talent in the country and 2) The same companies will also continue to aggressively bid for new work, driving down prices for services in an intensely competitive business environment.

If you could make one major change to a government policy, what would it be?

Implement the reforms necessary to improve Myanmar’s Ease of Doing Business Indicators, a short-hand measure of the business environment in the country.  Myanmar currently ranks 171 out of 190 countries measured. Even incremental improvements will markedly change the business environment in the country and can attract more investments both from domestic and foreign markets.

What is one advice you could give to Myanmar government?

Stay true to your reform goals and continue to aggressively pursue them.  The International Donor Organizations are there to assist you and companies like ours are always ready to support Myanmar’s public sector reform, financial sector strengthening and private sector development.  Prioritization of reform goals is very important at this stage of Myanmar’s reform journey.  As we have seen in our development work around the world, it is easy to be swayed from program to program, from donor to donor, interrupting and distracting a country from its chosen reform path.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking up to start up a business and invest in Myanmar?

Better hurry up!  Myanmar is growing. Myanmar has political stability as it now has the most democratic Government in more than 50 years. Though like in any other developing countries, Myanmar has a few challenges to overcome but there is still significant opportunities and Deloitte can help you realize your business and investment plans in the country.