Note: “Q&A with … “ is a recurring series with CrossCountry Consulting leadership.
Dabie Tsai is a Partner leading the San Francisco office where she provides additional leadership to our West Coast practice. She is a U.S. CPA and a Canadian Chartered Accountant, and has lived and worked in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, and most recently Spain, sharing her breadth of knowledge and leadership to each role and location.
CrossCountry Consulting: You have had a long career and have extensive experience in a wide range of specialties including risk-based integrated audits of large multinational companies, SEC and IPO filings for both domestic and foreign filers, credit risk, consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, and matters of corporate governance. What made you choose this line of work?
Dabie Tsai: Thank you for asking. I really “fell” into my line of work, so to speak! I was very fortunate in that I had many great mentors and sponsors from very early on in my career. Because of that, I had the opportunities to be considered for many new and exciting projects and clients as I continued to develop as a professional. For instance, as a young senior manager, I had the opportunity to be the chief of staff for the then KPMG global chairwoman of the firm’s technology, communications, media and entertainment practice. Not only did that allow me to really learn how a Big Four firm is run at the national and global levels, it also gave me the chance to foster amazing relationships with the firm’s senior leadership and learn from them directly. From thereon, opportunities just continued to materialize.
As a partner, I specialized in the financial services industry, in particular global and large multilateral development banks. Having the opportunity to serve these interesting, complex organizations and trying to add value as they go through the financial crisis, CCAR and Dfast stress tests as they were coming into being, situations where you are helping the clients with large fraud investigations, and being involved from an audit perspective in the clients’ merger/ acquisition, as well as carve-out activities, was very fulfilling.
CrossCountry Consulting: What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in this industry over the past 5 years?
Dabie Tsai: There have been so many changes! But here are a number that I have found to be the most prominent in the past 5 years, in no particular order:
- As organizations become increasingly dependent on technology, digital and cloud environments, cyber security has become increasingly important every year. From threats to large-scale penetrations and incidents, to how to get ahead of the myriad of cyber risks that are more and more sophisticated and critical, business leaders must continue to innovate and move their businesses forward while reducing risk and exposure to threats.
- Data management, including privacy, protection, vendor management, regulatory exigency (e.g., GDPR in the EU).
- Digital transformation, including the increasing role of AI and robotics and the use of Big Data.
- Fintech competition and disruption.
- Continued regulatory expectation, compliance requirements, etc.
- Changing business models (i.e., business rationalization), such as retrenching from do-it-all global banks covering every type of banking services to more focused and specific niches (e.g., redirecting from I-banking, or pulling back from certain geographies).
- Changing (or rising) expectations from customers, regulators, employees and other stakeholders (which can have wide-ranging impact potentially in an organization’s reputation, corporate governance, executive conduct, etc.).
- Adjusting to the new normal, low (and in some cases around the world, negative) interest rate environment.
CrossCountry Consulting: Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years? Will there be many changes that affect the work you’re doing today?
Dabie Tsai: There are a number of things currently happening that will affect the way we do business over the coming years:
- Global disruptions (coronavirus), geopolitical conflicts (nationalistic or other conflicts), demographical shifts (aging and underserved populations, emerging markets, etc.), technological and digital changes, economical (market volatility), different business models and streams (e.g., payments) are ALL waves of disruption that we will have to learn how to successfully navigate, including whatever comes next.
- Seeking sustainable revenue and profitability in the new normal, low interest rate environment.
- We will be operating in the Internet of Things environment, while trying to build up a true digital infrastructure (e.g., more than simply a customer channel –such as a mobile platform interface – but back office/ middle office, as well).
- With enterprise-wide emerging risks, among others, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability-related, reputational risk in this 24/7 social media world, there will be a need for continual enhanced risk management.
- Because of a generational shift happening, as well as the impact from automation/ robotics/ cognitives technology and tools, there will be an increased focus on human talent management and development.
CrossCountry Consulting: If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs - such as food and water - were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?
Dabie Tsai: Only two?! Just kidding – but not really!
Will the deserted island have WiFi and cell phone reception? If so, then definitely my phone! I also read every night and would love (need!) to have books with me. I can’t do without my skincare routine, so I would probably need many different bottles of moisturizers. Realistically, I would definitely like to have some flares, so I can signal SOS to be rescued.