I find it appropriate that after seven years as chief executive, one of my last official acts before departing Deloitte for retirement is the writing of this foreword for the 2012 Deloitte Stakeholder Report.
The action is appropriate, as this document covers the essential elements of a firm that I have been part of as an employee, partner and finally chief executive, for 26 years.
During this time Deloitte has become an integral part of my life.
I, like my colleagues, have taken on board the values that have been central to this firm. These values are reflected in all sections of this report.
I am also proud to say that I have been privileged to play a part in building a distinctive Deloitte brand in Southern Africa.
Our brand is synonymous with a Deloitte culture that is founded on the attributes of integrity, ethics, quality and positive leadership.
Naturally, there have been many challenges during my career, but none more daunting than the latter months of 2008.
It became clear during the last six months of 2008 that the economy was in distress. At Deloitte the impact was felt through clients cutting back on our advisory services and postponement of projects. Obviously, tough decisions had to be made.
It was decided upfront that partners and directors, rather than staff, should bear the brunt of the recession. Costs were reduced and staff intakes slowed down. Most notably, we continued with all our corporate social investments without making any cuts in our commitments.
The recessionary storm saw revenue growth slowing drastically, with profit rising by only 1.2% in 2010. Although these days are now behind us, I emerged with two clear lessons, these were:
It pays to put people first. If you have the right people in place and treat them well, they will assist by serving clients better and making the personal sacrifices required to weather recessionary times.
Secondly, the recession taught us that we make our own future by seeking clients, and by being agile in the way we serve them. Ultimately, our strength lies in our relationships with our clients; it is these relationships that are crucial to the growth of any business.
The theme of our 2012 Stakeholder Report is “Leaving a legacy and creating a sustainable future”. It is a crucial part of our strategy that we continuously monitor and assess the impact and impressions we have made as a corporate citizen, and that we strive to realise all that we set out to do by creating a sustainable future.