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Alice Yip joins panel of judges at the HKB Management Excellence Awards 2020

KPMG China partner shares her views on how businesses can adapt on their road to recovery.

Alice Yip, partner, head of consumer & industrial markets, Hong Kong at KPMG China, has been providing professional services to clients in the consumer, retail and industrial sectors for more than 25 years.

She is experienced in handling initial public offering projects and has assisted a number of enterprises in raising funds from the United States and Hong Kong capital markets and has been actively involved in a number of cross-border projects for her clients.

“The current environment will test most businesses’ ability and leaders’ agility to operate and manage in a crisis,” said Alice in an interview with Hong Kong Business. She also shared her insights on what business leaders can learn from the crisis, effective responses of companies, and their roads to recovery.

Which particular markets or sectors are your main focus? Can you share with us your work experience or any backstory that has contributed to your professional career?

I am the Head of Consumer & Industrial Markets, Hong Kong at KPMG China and have been providing professional services to clients in the consumer, retail and industrial sectors for more than 25 years. Experienced in handling initial public offering projects, I have assisted a number of enterprises in raising funds from the United States and Hong Kong capital markets and have been actively involved in a number of cross-border projects for my clients.

I am a frequent public speaker on changing industry trends and the new reality driven by digital transformation, data analytics and consumer behaviour involving various media channels.

I was the Chairman of ACCA Hong Kong for the term 2016/2017 and was elected as a member of ACCA Global Council since 30 November 2017. I was appointed by the Chief Executive on 28 December 2018 to be a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board

What can leaders learn from the crisis? For those whose companies and industries have been badly hit, what do owners need to consider on the road to recovery?

An effective response by a company requires strong leadership which will safeguard the business and discover opportunities amid a crisis. Businesses have to rapidly establish their immediate and longer-term risks, and develop a rapid response covering the following areas:

  • Assemble and activate a crisis management team
  • Implement business continuity and resilience planning
  • Focus on employee safety and well-being
  • Establish consistent communications channels with stakeholders
  • Revisit third-party risk management
  • Manage economic impact on the business

On the road to recovery, business owners have to adapt and improvise:

  • Cash management: Assess whether there is sufficient liquidity to support short and medium term requirements. Need to work with suppliers, customers and financiers to alleviate cash constraints.
  • Supply chain management: Understand how they can support key suppliers with the funding of their working capital together with third party financiers. Visibility across the supply chain and agility in decision-making across departments are crucial.
  • Stay close to customers: Identify areas of potential non-performance with regards to supplying and servicing clients, and proactively engage with customers to mitigate potential risks.
  • Financial planning: Plans should be stress-tested based on a range of scenarios including a rebound in the global economy, general slowdown and global recession. Also include cost projections for what the crisis will potentially cost the business, and use these figures as data points when developing the recovery strategy.
  • Evaluate and re-evaluate: Businesses should leverage the situation to identify the future direction for their operations. For example, whether they should consider strengthening remote working capabilities for staff and building up IT and cloud capabilities to create a more agile working environment.

How can the management support their employees and stakeholders during these tough times?

Of paramount importance is the safety and well-being of employees and their families. Management should establish clear protocols for employee communications, messaging, and working expectations, and align these with relevant prevailing local emergency laws.

Management should also establish clear, consistent communications channels with employees, suppliers, customers, and their stakeholders. In addition, management should set up a feedback loop in which management can garner insights and viewpoints from these stakeholders, and feed these into business plans.

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