Linda Ellett on how KPMG helps retail clients find opportunities

22 November 2022 Consultancy.uk 5 min. read
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As a Partner at KPMG, Linda Ellett is the lead of the firm’s consumer, leisure and retail industry wing, and market lead for sectors. In conversation with RDW’s Cat Callen, Ellett discusses the changing face of the retail industry, and how KPMG still finds clients opportunities for growth in tough times.

Tell us about yourself.

In or around London is where I grew up, went to University and started my career; and whilst I now live in Cambridgeshire the diversity and buzz of London is something I’ll always love! I come from a small but tight-knit family, with my parents always instilling in me and my sister a passion for creativity, constant learning, and problem solving; qualities I now endeavour to not only bring into my work life but to also pass onto my children. 

Outside of work my two boys keep me pretty busy, and when I’m not watching them running around on a football pitch I like to get outside running myself – I find it such a great release for my physical and mental wellbeing. I’m also passionate about financial wellbeing, and seek to play a small part in this as a Trustee of The Money Charity.

Linda Ellett, Partner, KPMG

What is your morning routine when working from home?

Whether I’m in the office or working at home, I always try to start the day with some exercise; I find my morning run allows me time to refresh and rationalise my thoughts about the day ahead! Once home I’ll always try to snatch some time with the boys before work begins – if I can distract them from TikTok/FIFA/equivalent that is!

Honestly, I find working from home can be a challenge; it’s hard to ignore the home chores when you are walking past them between meetings. However I do enjoy the extra time with the boys the absence of a long commute gives me, so I still work from home a couple of days a week.

What is most important to you in your position, as UK Head for Consumer, Retail & Leisure for KPMG?

What we do and who we do it for. We work with businesses whose products and services touch the lives of people right across this country, whether through providing essential food, helping someone celebrate, supporting their health or providing employment. We strive to secure the best talent at KPMG to enable us to push ourselves to provide superior services to businesses which help them both anticipate and navigate the ever changing consumer landscape. I feel privileged to lead on our consumer and retail work, and am passionate about connecting clients, colleagues and ideas to keep delivering the best services for the sector.

What are you finding challenging in your current projects, given the current economic climate?

The sheer multitude of challenges and change facing businesses at once is almost unprecedented. High inflation, supply chain disruption, geopolitical conflict, changes to trading and immigration arrangements, the drive for net zero, and rapid technological advancement – are just some of the issues playing out in real-time. And consumer-facing businesses have the added challenge of the impact that these issues are having on consumer demand and spending. Businesses are having to try to prioritise and then adapt, firstly to survive and then to thrive! 

With so many complex issues at play at once, I love how KPMG’s expertise across multiple areas of expertise, multiple sectors, and also internationally, can be really beneficial to businesses that are having to quickly problem solve across all functions and find opportunities for growth. So challenge yes, but a great opportunity to make a difference by helping clients.

You have been with KPMG for over 20 years, what is the secret to your success?

A great quote is that a good leader surrounds themselves with people better than them, I 100% believe in this. I love achieving something myself but I get far more out of seeing others achieve – seeing the potential in people and then enabling them to realise it is something I’m very passionate about! And I think it’s ended up serving me really well which is great!

Who in business has had the biggest effect on how you lead?

There’s no single person, as I’m fortunate enough to have worked with and met so many great business leaders. For example I co-founded the firm’s C-Suite programme with another Partner, Sue Bonney. We had individuals from across executive committees of FTSE100 companies of various sectors coming together to help challenge and develop their leadership. One thing that I think is key to leadership is to show how human you are. Whilst leaders are expected to inspire people and justify why they are where they are, it’s also key that they show that they can’t do everything and that everyone needs to sometimes play in the strengths of others, and also strive to further develop themselves.

When hiring new talent for the team – what behaviours do you always look out for?

Passion, drive, motivation and commitment are absolutely key. I’m also always focused on potential and what that person’s skills and experience could be used for and whether they are transferable. For example, when hiring a marketing business partner recently I could have focused on whether someone has professional services experience – but I appointed someone that had got both big consumer brand and start-up marketing experience. That told me she understood our current and potential client base, whether big or small business. The professional services side of things can be learned, and also supported by our team.