Accenture Middle East regional managing director Alexis Lecanuet

16 September 2019 Consultancy-me.com

In September of last year, the Middle East practice of global professional services giant Accenture welcomed a new regional managing director; company veteran Alexis Lecanuet. He speaks to Consultancy-me.com on his transition to the role and the firm’s activities in the region.

Accenture Middle East & Turkey managing director Alexis Lecanuet has been with the firm for altogether 22 years, having led many large, complex transformation projects across Europe, MENA and Turkey during that time. Appointed in September last year, Lecanuet is now responsible for managing the firm’s local operations, including defining and executing strategy, and leading its portfolio of clients. One year into the job, he speaks with Consultancy-me.com. 

Consultancy-me: Firstly, you’ve been with Accenture for more than two decades, the majority of that time in France. What attracted you to taking up a position in the region? 

Lecanuet: With Accenture being a global organisation, you would often find opportunities in different parts of the world. I was personally looking for opportunities that support our global business and enhance our exposure on a global level. In 2015, when the Middle East opportunity arose and was brought to my attention, it was a perfect fit for my ambitions at Accenture, in addition to my family ambitions with my wife Krisztina and our four daughters, aged from 5 to 15 at the time.

I’ve learned about the Middle East region from global projects and global clients present in the region, and I was attracted by the challenge to grow the business at scale. Today, I am excited to have the opportunity of taking Accenture Middle East to the next level and building a strong diverse team of UAE and Saudi nationals that are committed residents eager to bring the Middle East’s country visions to life. This is truly an inspiring region. We are blessed to live in countries with clear short- and long-term visions and an ambition to transform.

The Middle East has undergone a tremendous transformation in less than half a century and I know the best is yet to come. At Accenture, we strive to be critical players in achieving the bold visions of this nation’s leadership. Through cutting-edge strategies and new solution offerings, we work hard every day to help the UAE become a hub for tourism, technology, and innovation. This is an ambitious goal, but one that I am confident we are equipped to achieve. 

Alexis Lecanuet - Middle East & Turkey Managing Director - Accenture

Consultancy-me: You’ve ascended to the Middle East regional managing director role via Accenture’s Products division. What do you think sets you apart as a leader? 

Lecanuet: I was already based in the UAE, and previously led Accenture’s Products operating group. I am passionate about the ambition and speed of transformation happening across the Middle East. My focus on consumer industries and large-scale transformation projects made me an ideal fit to lead this region and give our clients an added advantage. 

In its quest to maintain a diverse leadership group, Accenture continues to grow local leaders while also bringing the best global experts to the region. With more than 22 years of experience across various regions around the world – including the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, Latin America and Turkey – I have been able to gather a wealth of insights from across developed and emerging markets to the role as managing director for the region. 

Consultancy-me: What strategies have you have devised for Accenture in the region since taking over the leadership role last year? Can you share your vision and steps toward achieving these goals? What progress has the firm made to date? 

Lecanuet: With our commitment to driving digital transformation in the Middle East, we announced last year a series of changes to our organisation and executive leadership to support our plans in driving future growth. Among the changes were my appointment as the regional managing director and the appointment of our country managing director in KSA [experienced IT business executive Khaled Al-Dhaher].

Together with our leadership team, we devised our business objectives that involve several pillars, including closing the talent gap in the region and putting innovation at the core of everything we deliver. We meet regularly to reflect on patterns in the Middle East today, the region’s true growth potential and most importantly, how we are “Leading in the NEW”.

These changes involved entering new growth areas in the innovation, the cloud and security space as well as investing in the long-term in our local practice and local client portfolio. Technology & innovation continue to change the world, and to create a positive, meaningful impact, Accenture understands that it is through combining human ingenuity with ground-breaking technologies that complex problems can be solved.  

Consultancy-me: With economic diversification programmes underway across the region, which areas do you think regional leaders should be concentrating their energy on? 

Lecanuet: Digital transformation is playing a crucial role in shaping governments and economies around the world and the same rings true for the Middle East region. According to our research, 45 percent of Middle Eastern companies are feeling the impact of disruption today and 44 percent are susceptible to disruption in the future.  As a result of this evolution, we have seen both the private and public sectors make major strides in the area.

In the public sphere, governments in the region have launched several smart initiatives and solutions to enhance the quality of living. We are also seeing private sector companies aggressively pursuing the integration of modern solutions and technology such as cloud, drones, robotics and Artificial intelligence (AI) – driving a new era of innovation.

In parallel, and to fuel digital transformation funding in the region, we have identified opportunities by revisiting the core enterprise performance and its cost basis and are offering shared and outsourcing services in Finance, IT, HR and procurement operations… We are in the middle of an industrial revolution, and the Middle East is welcoming it with open arms. 

Accenture Middle East

Consultancy-me: Is it possible to provide an idea of Accenture’s current balance of business and areas of focus in the Middle East? And do you see this evolving?

Lecanuet: Accenture has made significant investments in the GCC and is constantly striving to help businesses accelerate digital transformation. In line with the UAE Vision 2021, Accenture maintains its support to private and government businesses to further enable the UAE in becoming a leading technology hub, by helping establishments and governments apply technology to create positive change and transform business and society.

In the UAE, in addition to its main headquarters in Abu Dhabi and offices in Dubai, Accenture will open an Innovation Hub focusing on the tourism industry by the end of 2019 – to fuel innovation, advance the digital transformation of segments like Travel, hospitality & retail, and help clients move from vision to fast execution in becoming a digital business with enhanced customer experiences.

Accenture also recently launched its Accenture Interactive Studios in the UAE aimed at designing and creating the best customer, citizen, visitor, and tourist experience on the planet and bringing them to life in an agile manner. The goal is to balance forward-thinking innovation with the practicality of applying it now in an environment that promotes agility, co-creation, and experimentation to help our clients innovate.

Further, Accenture aims to build on the progress and success of the UAE, by making EXPO 2020 the most technologically advanced event the world has seen. Accenture is committed to making Expo 2020 one of the fastest, smartest and most connected places on Earth – where people from all over the world can meet and collaborate in innovative and creative ways that will have a lasting positive effect on our future.

Consultancy-me: Can you tell us a little bit more about Accenture’s role for Expo 2020?

As the Digital Services Premier Partner and Systems Integrator of Expo 2020, Accenture will create a powerful and engaging digital experience for millions of visitors from around the world. To achieve this, Accenture will work with Etisalat Digital, a business unit of the international telecoms and technology service provider Etisalat. Accenture will also ensure the integration of more than 70 Expo applications and coordinate programme management, architecture and testing across Expo’s multiple technology partners.

Aligning with UAE’s government initiatives to accelerate economic and social development through the World Expo and its legacy, Accenture has also committed to opening a digital hub in District 2020 [the Expo 2020 legacy site in Dubai] to help clients across a variety of industries develop innovative digital solutions, working closely with its technology partners.

Consultancy-me: And in Saudi Arabia?

Lecanuet: In addition to our Riyadh and Khobar offices, Accenture has opened its first Digital Studio in Riyadh. The studio space serves as a go-to destination for the company’s clients to co-create, innovate and apply the latest digital technologies and experiences to drive superior digital E2E business performance with transformative results.The new industry and innovation center allows clients to have full access to the digital capabilities of Accenture Interactive to help transform their businesses, ranging from innovation to strategy, experience design, creative content, and technology – all under one roof.

In Saudi Arabia, we are deeply rooted in Vision 2030 and are aligned to the strategic pillars of the country. The vision of Accenture in Saudi Arabia is to become the partner of choice in the country’s economic transformation by bringing together the right capabilities to co-create and deliver innovative ideas and solutions. We believe that Saudi’s vision has a clear aim – to bring public and private organisations together, to collaborate on shared objectives and make way for a stronger, more innovative future.

Consultancy-me: Lastly, it’s fair to say that Accenture has been on a serious global acquisition spree over the past two years, but with nothing to date in the Middle East. Have the regional operations benefited from the pick-ups elsewhere, and is there anything on the cards locally?  

Lecanuet: The most successful companies continuously refresh and energise their growth strategies to capitalise on new market opportunities and remain competitive. Oftentimes, doing so involves inorganic approaches to building and refining their portfolio—creating alliances, executing mergers or acquisitions, or divesting businesses that no longer fit.

Globally, we’ve had more than 100 acquisitions since 2011 and each has enabled us to broaden the range of services we offer to our clients, from strategy through to operations to drive innovation and improve the way the world works and lives. The benefits of such acquisitions are seen in every country we operate.

One of our latest acquisitions in Accenture Interactive was Droga5, which is considered one of the most innovative and influential creative agencies in the US, has been already connected with some of our regional and local clients. But it’s also true that in the Middle East, we want to focus on organic growth as we see significant potential in the current market.