Photography by Teddy Grozdanov MakeUp: Lora Slavova
Mr. Spasov, congratulations on receiving the 2023 „Business Leader Consulting and IT Industry“. Having served as the co-founder and CEO of KPMG IT Service for the past seven years, what is your vision for the seven to follow? What are the strategic objectives you aim to achieve, irrespective of where your motorbike journey would take you?
– We are unequivocally focused on growth. Our objective is to expand our team to over 1,000 professionals and to further cultivate the IT consulting sector in Bulgaria. In light of the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and novel technologies, we are gearing up for a significant business transformation. This transformation is not only intrinsic to our organization but also constitutes an integral component of the forthcoming wave of digitalization that will impact our clients’ businesses. AI is poised to revolutionize the operational landscape of consulting firms. Accordingly, we have already initiated projects aimed at redefining our service delivery mechanisms in domains such as audit, tax advisory, digital transformation, cybersecurity, among others.
The second focal area for us is market expansion. At present, our organization has a footprint in 18 countries, with a concentration primarily in Europe; however, we also cater to clients in the United States, Japan, Australia, and Singapore. In the span of the last three years, we have successfully tripled our market presence, and perpetuating this trajectory is paramount to us. Our aspiration is for KPMG IT Service to become the preeminent entity in providing Technology Transformation Services to clients, as well as to emerge as leaders within the KPMG Network of Member Firms in offering such services.
You are a technology business leader. You started from a start-up, and now you are part of KPMG, a major global organization. What drives you?
– Success. What has consistently fueled our motivation over the years is the tangible impact of our efforts and the successes our clients have attained through the services we have provided. Observing the growth trajectory of our own company – from a modest team of 15 to a robust workforce of 500 – and its role in elevating the caliber of technology advisory services in Bulgaria has been immensely rewarding. On a personal level, my motivation has been further invigorated by the opportunity to contribute to the expansion of the IT ecosystem as our organization continues to grow. This extends to fostering symbiotic partnerships between the business community and educational institutions through the academies we have established. We recently invested in a new lab within the Center of Excellence at the Technical University in Sofia. Although the Bulgarian IT ecosystem is notably advanced in terms of software development and outsourcing services, the IT consulting sector still lags behind its counterparts in Western and Central Europe. This is the arena where we intend to make a lasting imprint.
Transitioning from a modest team of 15 people to an expansive workforce of more than 500 people – where do you perceive the limit of this rapid growth?
– The principal constraint I discern is the availability of talent within the IT industry. Given Bulgaria’s relatively modest population size compared to other nations in Central and Western Europe, the talent pool is naturally smaller. From a professional standpoint, we possess the genuine potential to emerge as the leading technology hub within the KPMG Network of Member Firms across the European landscape. This makes it imperative for us to invest in talent development initiatives. Concurrently, we are committed to transforming Sofia into a technological epicenter that serves as a magnet for global talent. At present, more than 20% of our workforce comprises individuals who have relocated from other countries. The need for an increasingly skilled, qualified, and certified talent pool is evident. While we have insights into sourcing such talent, collaboration with governmental institutions is essential for the implementation of effective workforce development programs.
Could you describe the profile of your customers and how did your services contribute to their success?
– Our client portfolio predominantly resides in the corporate sector, with a segment also operating in what is termed the upper mid-market. These are enterprises with annual turnovers ranging from millions to billions, and even our smallest clients maintain a workforce exceeding 5,000 employees. We have a footprint across a diverse array of industries. Our ambition is to enable our clients to formulate robust digital strategies that facilitate their growth and optimize financial performance through technological innovation. Currently, our solutions can be categorized into three distinct realms – transformation of back-office processes, front-office processes, and last but not least, elevating our clients to the status of Trusted Organizations.
How does your company differ vis-a-vis the other technology companies in Bulgaria?
– Many Bulgarian software development companies can deliver technological solutions to meet customer specifications. However, few companies can match our ability to start with the strategy phase, understand the client’s challenges and industry, and map out a plan for transformation and success. We are one of the few companies that can start with the strategy phase, understand the client’s challenges and industry, and map out a plan for transformation and success. We map out a plan for clients to achieve transformation and even greater success. This is what sets us apart – we help our clients excel.
In what way the affiliation of KPMG ITS with KPMG Delivery Network is important to you?
– Two years ago, we established KPMG Delivery Network (KDN), a new global network of technological centers. Its purpose is to transform the way in which we deliver services to our clients. This is a global solution for clients with international presence. KDN technology centers should operate consistently, focusing equally on technology and processes. This will ensure that all KPMG companies globally can continue to rely on their support for implementing services for their end clients.
KDN’s global workforce of nearly 5,500 employees is spread across three main technology centers: Sofia, Bulgaria (Europe), Malta, and India. KDN is expanding its global footprint by opening new centers in the Philippines, Mexico, and other countries. Our goal is to reach 60,000 employees globally within the next five years. This partnership with the other KDN technology centers is a tremendous opportunity for our Sofia office. It will allow us to take on larger contracts, which will give us access to new markets and the ability to deliver services to clients in different countries and time zones. I believe that KDN is an outstanding initiative that has put Bulgaria on KPMG’s global map, and I believe we have been successful in achieving this.
Currently the global KPMG organization is talking a lot about its partnerships with tech giants, such as Microsoft and ServiceNow. What is the place of KPMG IT Service in this conversation?
– As a leading center of technological services in KDN for Europe, KPMG IT Service OOD is active in our partnership discussions with major companies, such as SAP, ServiceNow, Microsoft, etc. Major technology companies are both competitive and cooperative with one another. Microsoft, SAP and ServiceNow partner with one another.
As a consulting company, our job is to think about challenges to the client. We have to identify their business needs and offer the technologies that best fit their needs and budget. We stay close to our clients. We connect business needs with technology products.
In Sofia we work very closely with functional consultants in KPMG and experts across industries. Last year, KPMG announced an investment of more than 1 billion USD within the next 3 years to develop joint solutions with our technology partners.
Do you think the global shockwave, which also affected the IT industry, will reach Bulgaria. How are you preparing for this potential scenario?
– I see this shockwave as a temporary phenomenon that will not have a lasting effect. The IT sector will continue to develop at a very rapid pace. There will still be serious competition between the organizations within the IT ecosystem. The global situation prompted the companies to make certain tactical decisions in order to optimize internal structures. This, however, did not disrupt the local ecosystem. It was felt in Bulgaria, but the effect was extremely limited. The market responded rapidly, and companies attracted the available talent.
How would you define the IT industry in Bulgaria – is it a competition or a cooperation?
– Realistically it is both. It is a fact that most IT companies know each other, and they work together. When needed, they can build partnerships, but act as competitors at the same time towards certain customers in the market. This is a normal phenomenon. We do have 10 local partners on the Bulgarian market, which helps us deliver services to end clients. We partner with them on various matters, such as, for example, improving the quality of IT education in Bulgaria. Concurrently, acting as competitors towards a certain client could also happen. The better prepared the company, one which offers a better solution and one which offers a more competitive price, is naturally going to succeed in getting the client. Our IT ecosystem is a mix of competition and partnership.
Other than the motorbike, what else makes you happy and how do you recharge in your free time?
– I recharge with physical activity, sports, activities that keep my focus and attention engaged, allowing me to distance myself from work and from the company. I have two boys who are both really active. I normally spend evenings and weekends with them. I also have a lot of hobbies. One is the motorbike, but I am also a great fan of skiing, hiking, and swimming. Each sport requires focus and dedication and offers a chance to detach from work. I also do this by learning something new. In my free time, even while doing sports, I also like to listen to podcasts and interviews. To me this is a chance to gain more knowledge and information as I remain actively involved and focused.