RIYADH AL-NAJJAR

Saudi Arabia 2021 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

PwC not only had to react quickly to protect its business from the impact of COVID-19, but worked hard to support its clients during an accelerated period of digital transformation.

Riyadh Al-Najjar
BIOGRAPHY

Riyadh Al-Najjar has over 25 years of professional experience in management consulting across several industries, including healthcare, financial services, and government. He has led multiple large and complex engagements, assisting clients with the setup and operations of their transformation management offices and project management offices.

How have you adapted to the new reality of the pandemic?

Like all other organizations around the world, we at PwC Middle East have seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe we reacted swiftly and effectively to be able to successfully get back to normal, albeit slowly, and as per the new norm. To us, the safety and well-being of our staff, as well as our clients, is paramount. When the crisis first hit, we took all the precautionary measures including repatriation of our staff to their home offices, disinfecting our offices regularly, and adhering to the regulations around restricted mobility, social distancing, and so on. We were one of the first to institutionalize a 100% remote work policy. One of the reasons we were able to do so was due to our investments in technology. We also supported mission-critical ministries, and mobilized teams on the ground to ensure that we were part of society's response. We want to contribute to solving this problem as much as we can and our strength in having our people on ground facilitated our support and contribution to our key clients. At the same time, the firm, operational in 12 countries across the region, took numerous steps so that we all remained connected. In fact, we had more communication during the COVID-19 pandemic than usual. All throughout, we relied on our technology and digital tools/apps to look after each other via daily leadership meetings, weekly firm-wide connects, and programs on well-being, digital upskilling, stress management, parenting, and working from home, etc. We also ensured the utmost care was provided to any staff and families who were infected. In further response to the crisis, we connected with our global network even more than usual and leveraged learnings from various countries, including China, Italy and Spain, which were hit by the pandemic before KSA and the region.

How did the pandemic change the status quo for your key clients?

Our focus is to support our clients to become better equipped and ready to predict, deal with unforeseen conditions, and even capitalize on opportunities that may arise from such unexpected challenges. Our clients, especially in the public sector, had to reprioritize their spending, resources, and efforts to address the COVID-19 situation without straying from Vision 2030. They had to be a lot more agile and resilient to anticipate challenges and risks and then adapt to these risks. Part of the Saudi vision is to increase digital capabilities within the country and within the government. This is similar to PwC's strategy, but on a much larger scale. The pandemic confirmed NDU's strategy: it was the right path in terms of digital transformation. The pandemic accelerated the need for traditional ways of conducting business or public administration services to be upgraded with smarter, leaner alternatives, increased efficiency, and greater efficacy. At PwC, we are supporting our clients with digital transformation and transitioning the old process-driven ways of working to the new value/outcome driven approach.

What key trends do you believe will not revert to the pre-COVID-19 status quo?

In our region, organizations have already realized the importance of enabling and accelerating the use of advanced, digital, and remote technologies. We have seen governments refreshing their national digital transformation agenda to accommodate all unprecedented demand for digital technology solutions triggered by the pandemic. Moreover, our clients previously looked at business resilience and continuity in dealing with disasters and pandemics as a side issue. I have noticed that, today, they have become more focused on this area and are able to better understand how to react with agility with the tools needed for business continuity. ✖