Nontawat Poomchusri, managing director of Accenture Thailand, says his biggest challenge is not coping with rapidly changing technology or business circumstances, but "persuading his staff to love what they do".
"Accenture is all about people. We don’t sell products, gadgets or hardware. We sell the expertise and experience of our people. So we’re really a people company.
"Here in Thailand, to be ultimately successful is to get the best out of people, making them passionate and love what they do," he said.
As the boss of a leading consulting company, his main job is always to find a balance between the three dimensions of being a good business operator for its shareholders, being a value creator for his customers and being a "people developer", or making sure his staff are making good progress in their learning and in their careers.
"At Accenture, we work very hard. To convince our people to work very hard, it’s not about giving [money], it’s to understand what they expect, what they consider are their personal achievements, which varies among individuals and at different points of time in their careers.
"If people feel good, they become motivated," he said.
To motivate new-generation staff, for example, a manager has to spend time with them and make them understand why they are assigned to do certain tasks.
Since a consultant’s work is essentially about dealing with changes –changes in the business landscape, clients’ needs or technology – it is crucial for the leader to demonstrate that he is also open to change and is ready to change.
If he had to choose the single most important competency for a consultant, it is being a good listener.
"The critical success factor of a consultant, if I have to choose one, is to be a good listener.
"Customers don’t expect for us to know everything, but for us to understand their challenges and go back to the world of Accenture where we have a global pool of 30,000 consulting experts."
Embracing an open corporate culture, Nontawat always leaves his office door wide open for staff to walk in to consult with him, quite often about their own careers or stress due to demanding jobs. For himself, he finds a way to relax and concentrate away from work by playing drums or riding a big motorbike on the weekend.
"You need to fill your head with something else, so work doesn’t fill in the space in your head," he said.