While technical expertise and delivering quality work are vital, building strong relationships with clients and colleagues is critical for professionals looking to have a successful career in our modern world, says new ALN Kenya Director Jeremy Muyela.
Muyela, a certified accountant who has helped grow ALN's Forensics, Risk and Compliance practice in recent years, recalls one of his early mentors telling him that while clients expect high-level technical skills and knowledge, the soft skills and great personal relationships you build along the way are as important to help sustain your business.
"Building relationships with clients is important because it makes them trust you and feel comfortable so that whenever they have an issue, they always want to come back to you," says Muyela.
Muyela, who has worked for large private banks and professional services firms in the Cayman Islands, and advised clients across Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA, says clients need more than high quality work and good value. "Sometimes you have to make tough calls that the client might disagree with. But it is learning to understand the client, what they like, and being in their world for a bit that helps. It is more like building a friendship but within the context of business. That is how I always look at it," Muyela said.
Taking that approach ensures you not only have quality of service, maintains Muyela, but also helps build trust and understanding, which enables you to become the go-to person for any client issues.
ALN Kenya's Forensics, Risk, and Compliance practice, one of the first of its kind among African law firms, helps clients proactively and reactively with risk management.
"Over the last four years, we have grown to include several other service lines, including corporate intelligence, crisis and risk management, cybersecurity, forensics, technology services, whistleblowing, and internal audit," explained Muyela. "Data protection and privacy has also been an emerging trend and one of the most critical service lines. Over the last few years, we have seen privacy and compliance as business differentiators for companies."
With the growth in data protection and privacy laws and regulation across Africa, companies failing to safeguard data risk have suffered "significant regulatory penalties and reputational damage locally and sometimes internationally", notes Muyela.
More data privacy regulators now want non-compliant firms to be sanctioned, says Muyela, which is “a huge deal in terms of what's going on in the market right now", because sanctions have financial implications and cause reputational damage.
As the new Director of the Forensics, Risk and Compliance practice at ALN Kenya, Muyela is “very excited” about leading his team to help clients create and implement policies to deal with such risks, meeting international standards and local laws. He is also looking forward to expanding their services across the ALN alliance in Africa – building capacity, setting up similar practices, training staff and involving them in new assignments.
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