15 minutes with: Alwin Magimay

Our experts are on the frontlines of bringing ingenuity to life for our clients. They accelerate new growth ideas from concept, through design and development to commercial success. And they revitalise organisations with the leadership, culture, systems, and processes to make innovation a reality.

In this series, you’ll meet some of the brilliant minds creating change every day.

Alwin, PA’s Global Head of AI, is helping our clients utilise the power of AI to create and protect value for shareholders and stakeholders.

What is your background and how did you come to PA?

My 30-plus year career has focused on consulting at the intersection of technology and business transformation. I started working with ERP software implementations, then moved on to digital, mobile, and cloud transformations. Most recently, I’ve specialised in AI and its application in helping in enterprise transformation.

Before November 2022, AI and generative AI were seen as complex technical topics best left to Chiefs of Digital, Technology, or Information. But with the launch of chatbots like GPT-3, generative AI suddenly became tangible and accessible to business leaders.”

Overnight, AI migrated from the technical domain to the strategic business domain. Things have progressed rapidly since then. We now partner with clients to imagine, strategise, and deploy generative AI solutions tailored to their needs. To position ourselves at the leading edge, we created an AI innovation network to mentor early-stage startups with innovative AI concepts that can help our clients create new value.

Outside consulting, I have a close relationship with Imperial College London, and helped co-found the Data Science Institute in 2013. We bring senior client executives to the Institute to get a glimpse of the future – imagining the art of the possible with data and AI.

How would you describe your job to somebody who might not know what AI is?

The next wave of enterprise transformation is the emergence of the AI-powered enterprise, which we call ‘the intelligent enterprise’. This concept envisions an organisation where each business process and function are not just enhanced but fundamentally powered by AI.

AI, in this context, is more than a disruptive force; it’s a catalyst for unprecedented efficiency and innovation. It functions as a sophisticated statistical engine, analysing vast datasets to derive probable outcomes and insights. 

But the real game-changer lies in the expansive data it can harness and the remarkable speed of its analytical processes. In this future, AI doesn’t just support business processes, it elevates them, integrating deeply to create a seamless synergy between technology and operational efficiency. The workforce, too, will experience a transformation, where AI doesn’t replace but augments human capability, equipped with advanced tools and platforms.

My role is to guide clients through this transformative journey, from digital to intelligent enterprises. This involves leveraging AI not just as a tool for efficiency but as a means to create new value and safeguard existing products and services from disruptive competitive forces.”

Central to this approach is the humanisation of AI – stripping away the ‘artificial’ from artificial intelligence to emphasise and enhance human expertise and intuition. This philosophy keeps the focus on the human element, ensuring technology serves us, not the other way around.

How are we helping our clients to use AI to create and protect value?

We help our clients evolve and transform from ‘digital’ to ‘intelligent’ by harnessing the transformative capabilities of AI. For instance, we collaborated with a multinational gaming corporation to deploy generative AI to enrich and diversify their entertainment ecosystems. In the transport sector, we partnered with a national railway to construct AI use cases while architecting an AI Centre of Excellence. Within financial services, we assisted a global bank in appraising their investment portfolio to capitalise on generative AI’s potential while mitigating risks. We also enabled a nuclear energy entity to comprehend regulatory shifts via an AI solution, reducing their administrative workload by over 90 percent. 

Across industries, our methodology focuses on aligning AI implementations to strategic commercial objectives.

What excites you about your area of work?

As history has shown, every significant wave of change brings with it the dual potential to create or obliterate vast economic value. AI represents one such transformative wave, poised to redefine the landscape of economic opportunity. Our mission is to position our clients at the vanguard of this revolution, safeguarding and creating new value in the face of AI-driven transformation.

This era is electrifying, reminiscent of the dawn of the digital age when innovation and possibility were boundless. When we talk to our clients about harnessing AI for achieving specific outcomes, we’re not just advisors; we are catalysts for innovative thought.”

We like to challenge conventional boundaries and encourage a bolder, more imaginative approach to leveraging AI, aiming to push the envelope of what's possible to help our clients redefine the future of business and technology.

What kinds of companies are you working with as part of PA’s AI Innovation Network?

Our AI Innovation Network is a collection of pioneering enterprises, each harnessing AI in unique and impactful ways to drive change and innovation. Take, for instance, Xander Talent. This organisation transcends the traditional boundaries of business by training apprentices from underprivileged backgrounds in Data Science and AI. Their approach is not just about imparting skills; it’s a transformative journey that empowers individuals, enabling them to make significant strides in their personal and professional lives. This initiative delivers not just economic value, but social impact as well.

Another example is HowNow. This company is at the forefront of revolutionising corporate learning. Traditional corporate training models are predominantly push-based, dictating the what, where, and how of learning, often without aligning with individual needs or effectiveness. In contrast, HowNow pioneers a ‘pull-based’ learning approach. Utilising AI, they curate real-time, contextual learning experiences that are available precisely at the point of demand. This method transforms the learning process into an engaging, effective, and highly personalised journey, resonating more deeply with the modern learner's needs. One other example is X0PA, an AI-powered talent company, helping organisations to find talent in a bias-free manner and streamlining the entire talent acquisition process.

What’s different about working at PA?

PA’s small and agile structure enables faster decision-making. Our ability to apply ideas across industries is a key advantage – we can take a concept from banking and swiftly adapt it for transport more readily than our larger competitors. We strike an effective balance – large enough to have critical mass, yet compact enough to facilitate close collaboration.

Our secret ingredient is our end-to-end capability to imagine, prototype, innovate, and deploy solutions seamlessly for our clients.”

If someone wanted to get into your line of work, what advice would you give them?

Two vital elements drive success from my perspective: trusted relationships and specialised industry expertise. Firstly, strong relationships, cultivated over years of collaboration, position you as a trusted advisor to clients. These connections are indispensable. Secondly, industry expertise is more important than ever. With contextual knowledge increasingly commoditised by AI, the era of the generalist advisor or consultant is phasing out. We’re transitioning to an expert-led paradigm – you’re only as valuable as your domain mastery and the client success stories you can tell.

To continuously provide value, it’s important to develop laser-focused command of a particular domain or industry. This depth of knowledge, paired with long-term client relationships, is what makes a successful consultant in the current landscape. The advisors who thrive today and tomorrow will combine rich expertise with an intimate understanding of their clients’ needs and outcomes.

What are your future goals?

My aim is to push our AI practice to continuously generate innovative ideas that deliver real impact for clients. However, fun and learning are also vital – we grow best when we enjoy the journey. To nurture our team’s AI skills, we’re excited to launch the PA AI Academy. Its mission is to help our clients and our people become fully AI-fluent advisors. When our team is constantly learning, we stay ahead of the curve.

My broader goal is to ensure we’re always at the vanguard of technological shifts. In the rapidly evolving AI landscape, standing still means falling behind. We must embed a culture of lifelong learning and have the courage to continually challenge the status quo. If we make adventures of discoveries within AI, bring creative ideas to clients, and invest in our people’s growth, we’ll sustain our competitive edge.

AI is a noisy topic. Why would our clients choose PA to help them with it?

We have a clear strategic approach to how organisations can evolve from digital to intelligent enterprises. We understand the direction of travel, and we help our clients get there. We understand what leaders need to be thinking about. We don’t just put the technology in place – we bring innovation to our clients.

We are pragmatic implementers. We make stuff happen. We redefine what’s next and make it real.”

Explore more

Contact the team

We look forward to hearing from you.

Get actionable insight straight to your inbox via our monthly newsletter.