Peter Kasahara

Former PwC Partner in Digital Services

Peter is the Group Chief Data Officer of Zurich Insurance and was the managing partner of PwC Digital Services. He is a digital shaper from tip to toe. Peter and his team at PwC were supporting clients across all industries in their digital transformation and re-imagination with a strong focus on creating trust in a digitised world. But did you know? Peter was a re-joiner and has an exciting story to tell about his coming home.

How did your journey at PwC develop?

I always wanted to work in consulting and joined Pricewaterhouse Management Consultants in 1997. The growth mindset, positive spirit and passion I experienced during the recruiting process made the difference. I started then in classic management consulting focusing on strategy development and process improvement across industries and functions. Over time I specialised and selected CRM consulting as my focus area. CRM was the growth play at that time, and thanks to the increasing experience, expertise and my passion for sales even as a youngster, my projects and responsibility started to expand. But then, the entire global consulting business and teams of PwC moved to IBM in October 2002 and I was part of that transition. Our entire team moved, so the bonding among the team members and with my coach increased even more.

What was the most valuable experience you gained while venturing into other fields?

At IBM, I continued my focus on CRM consulting. The team grew rapidly, and I found myself selling and leading large transformation programmes with 100+ people across Europe and was promoted to associate partner. A stroke of fate then changed my plans. My mother required care and I resigned from IBM on the day of the diagnosis. There were only two employers near her home: Dow Chemicals and Swisscard, the credit card division of Credit Suisse where I found a role as head of project management. I learned a lot during my two years in the payments industry and also as a client of consulting companies.

I learned that driving growth is my passion and that this is only possible in a sustainable way if you grow people, pride and purpose, and not just performance pressure.

Peter Kasahara, PwC Alumnus

After my mother passed away, I returned to IBM and took over the CRM consulting business as the responsible partner for Switzerland, Austria, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Growth was again my mission and the results brought me to the Management Board of IBM Europe being in charge of CRM for EMEA. In 2011, IBM identified data and analytics as new big play. I took over the new role to create and grow that European business from scratch. In 2013, I was asked to take on an additional role as managing partner and country leader for the entire consulting business in Switzerland with the task of turning the business around. In 2014, I got a third role to also take over the ailing strategy consulting division of IBM across Europe, merge the business with the data and analytics division, and unite the teams. A very interesting but also intensive period.

How did the PwC alumni community help you to stay connected during that time?

I was a regular visitor of PwC alumni parties. A large number of the team members from my first years at PwC met up and we enjoyed the moments to reconnect and remain bonded. The yearly alumni event was the key cornerstone and also the exchange with former colleagues who were still at PwC or had also rejoined. The teamwork during my time at PwC was so great that it created a remarkable spirit. It created true friendship and bonding for a lifetime. We met regularly in a large variety of constellations and formats. It made my decision easy to come home again.

Why did you decide to “come home again”?

I missed the entrepreneurial space and the in-depth collaboration with clients. The leadership role at IBM across Europe, eight regions and all industries left limited space for hands-on client work and I’d promised myself to never become a content-free leader. I wanted to reinvent myself again by changing employer before turning 50 years old and was attracted to continue focusing on clients while helping PwC in their own digital transformation. I had the honour to lead the Digital Intelligence Business Unit of PwC, the customer transformation growth play for the company, while making a contribution to the digital transformation of PwC as CDO for PwC Advisory.

Today, Zurich Insurance Group has appointed Peter to the new role of Group Chief Data Officer to oversee all aspects of data management and to help drive the Group’s digital transformation. He leads global data management and governance, develops new data analytics capabilities and products, expands Zurich’s machine learning competencies, and ensures delivery against their data for good commitment. But we know, third time's the charm and we can’t wait to welcome Peter home, again!

Alumni tip: If you close your eyes and reflect about the best moments in your professional life, and then find yourself with the insight that your current reality is far away from that positive state, then it is time to make a change.

Peter Kasahara, PwC Alumnus
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