For Sanjeev Krishan, the new chairman-elect of PwC India, being at the helm of one of the legacy Big Four professional services firm at this juncture when the pandemic-struck corporate India is all set to press the re-set button, could prove to be serendipitous.
Krishan, 50, – arguably the youngest person in the top job at the firm – has already made a mark as the ‘go-to-deals man’ for PwC India. He helped set up and grow the firm’s Transaction Services (TS) business since 1997. Following a brief three-year stint in Sweden, he has been at the helm of the deal making business since 2011. Though low key and self-effacing by nature, he rose through the ranks over his 29 years in the firm, having joined in 1991 as an articled trainee. However, what set him apart was his drive to build a niche for the firm in private equity, insolvency and the broader deals business in India.
Over the last six ‘lockdown and unlock’ months, Krishan spend relentless hours on video calls and webinars to keep in regular touch with CXOs across India and abroad. So much so, to beat the digital fatigue, on certain weekends he would unplug, taking a break from his phone and laptop. As businesses go into ‘repair’, ‘rethink’, ‘re-configure’ mode in the coming months, Krishan has his task cut out. He would have to draw upon his relationships in corporate India and understanding of clients’ needs to navigate the choppy business environment. This would hold good not only for clients, but also for PwC India.
The 15,000-head strong firm has over the last few years of its transformation journey invested in technology and making its people more technology savvy. Given the drive of businesses to go digital that investment would now be put to test. Globally, there has been adverse spotlight on the audit practice of the Big Four audit and consultancy firms. As a response, the Big Four have increasingly stepped up their non-audit practices. It is here that Krishan’s expertise in the deal-making business could come in handy. As India Inc re-configures its business plan in the post pandemic business environment, so could PwC India.
In a blog post in LinkdIn, Krishan notes, “Navigating this crisis requires organisations to search for holistic solutions to emerge stronger. As the focus shifts from survival to recovery, organisations will require agility and astute decisiveness to respond appropriately”. He could possibly use some of the same advice to steer PwC India over the next four years of his chairmanship.