Gregoire Dattee's interview for Kyiv Post: Creating long-term value in an unstable business environment [October 2013]

In his interview to the Kyiv Post newspaper, Gregoire Dattee, Managing Partner at Mazars in Ukraine, speaks about Mazars' values, winning clients' loyalty in turbulent times and what it takes to be a business leader.

Kyiv Post – October 18, 2013
Gregoire Dattee, Managing Partner at Mazars in Ukraine

You may also read the interview in Leaders Talk section on the EBA website

Please can you start with an introduction of yourself and an overview of your company? What is your company’s strategic positioning in the Ukrainian market?

Mazars is an international, integrated and independent organisation specialising in audit, advisory, accounting and tax services. The group operates in 72 countries over five continents and draws on the expertise of 13,500 professionals to assist companies – which include major international groups, SMEs, private investors and public bodies - at every stage of their development.

Since the establishment of our integrated partnership in 1995, we have chosen to transcend our European roots and decided to serve entities of every size in every continent. Our adventure is one of a young and dynamic organisation, driven by our diversity and efforts to create value for the business community as a whole.

I started my career with Mazars in the Paris office, where I was in charge of publicly listed international groups, mainly for audit and transaction services. Additionally, I was coordinating agro-business activities in France. With a strong professional background and extensive technical expertise, I joined Mazars Ukraine in September 2008 with a view to develop entrepreneurial skills and establish a sustainable practice in Kiev.

Today Mazars Ukraine is developing at a fast pace. We are growing together with our international clients. Our main purpose is to provide the international business community with a multicultural approach to the Ukrainian market. Mazars’ clients highly appreciate our ability to establish links between Ukrainian practices and their local culture, which, in most cases differ significantly, mainly in terms of finances and management.

Mazars has offices in 72 countries. How do you cooperate with your colleagues from different countries and do you all have the same philosophy and values despite differences in mentality?

Strong values have been at the heart of our organization since its creation. They guide us in our daily activities, providing a common base of values that all Mazars’ partners and teams share and respect. Amongst our cores values is “diversity and respect for individuals”. Mazars - and myself – believe in collective intelligence and feel that cultural differences enrich our truly global organisation.

How do we turn these concepts into reality? In 3 stages: 

  • Mazars is an integrated organization, which means that the practices support each other, even financially, depending on their stage of development. This principle guarantees that there is no internal competition between the countries and favours the sharing of all information, for more effective cooperation.
  • Internal communication and staff rotation are key elements that create much closer connections between all teams members: regular international meetings and seminars are held for all grades of employees (partners, operations experts, support staff), along with “Mazariades” – which are internal events dedicated to young talent, aimed at helping colleagues get to know each other better and to improve cooperation with other countries in the Group.
  • Many engagements are carried out by teams composed of members from different countries. In Ukraine, team members enjoy being involved in engagements abroad or welcoming peers from other countries to Ukraine.

What is, in your opinion, the best tool to obtain clients’ loyalty?

In a fast-changing world, with changes taking place even faster in Ukraine, a country that is still characterized by an unstable business environment, companies are looking for seamless, tailored-made and innovative solutions. Mazars’ aim here is to guarantee enhanced performance and create long-term value for our clients, mainly based on:

  • the flexibility and adaptability of our services to each client (industry, size, management style). This requires a significant time investment at the beginning of each new engagement.
  • the efficiency of our teams and permanent training to maintain technical excellence. 
  • the continuous exchange of information for enhanced responsiveness and added value.

As an auditor, our first and foremost task is to listen to our client (“auditus” in Latin means listening) and perfectly understand their activities and business model.

Who do you most admire as a business leader and why? Could you share the main methods you use for motivating your team?

I do not admire someone in particular but I consider that nowadays and anywhere constant adaptation to the ever-changing environment is of paramount importance. Ukraine is a good place to learn…. Each of us must apply regular self-analysis, leading us to discover the seeds of new dynamics. The challenge is to adapt while preserving our own identity and fundamentals. Technical innovations and new generations (Y, Z, etc.) bring many inspiring challenges in that regard.

This implies a very participative management built on autonomy and self-responsibility of team members, with a lot of time dedicated to pedagogy. In other words, one of the most important values of a leader is their ability to develop anticipation and entrepreneurial skills among their team and to federate ideas and innovations within a controlled framework.

Provided they create the rules of the game, employees have more freedom, and more autonomy to organize themselves and interact with others. Their actions are mainly assessed against results and they can see more clearly their own contribution to the mutual work.

This kind of management is certainly more convenient for people in the industry. It contradicts in many aspects the usual way of management implemented in Ukraine. However, after 5 years here I am very impressed by the high number of talented people who totally adhere to this entrepreneurial way of working.