27 Group: A Malaysian consulting story about 'rebuilding humanity'

26 September 2022 Consultancy.asia 8 min. read
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Founded five years ago, 27 Group was formed on the basis that a business consultancy can operate competitively and at the highest level while driving meaningful impact for clients and society – and future generations. A story on the now 50-strong Malaysian consultancy and how it seeks to achieve its vision of ‘rebuilding humanity’.

The Kuala Lumpur-based company is helmed by Girish Ramachandran, an accountant by training with extensive experience in corporate recovery as well as corporate finance and accounting.

Ramachandran’s time as executive director at global audit and consultancy firm RSM, followed by works done with EC Harris and Arcadis, where he took on the role of Head of Business Advisory for South East Asia, gave him a sound appreciation for delivering hard hitting consultancy and project management targets with an emphasis on the principles of sustainability.

The team of 27 Group

It was during these formative years that Ramachandran began to take note of the need for building a Malaysian-based consulting firm that would be able to deliver competitive management consultancy services that take into account the wider considerations of project delivery.

Today, this is defined by the business community as the principles of ESG and is an aspect that has formed a core component of the 27 Group business model.

The four business lines

The group operates through four designated models, each with a unique focus to service the needs of business clients and public sector organisations. There is 27 Advisory, which is primarily concerned with strategy development, corporate transformation and socioeconomic engineering, offering strategic business planning, analytics and operations improvements to corporate clients and government bodies alike.

Then there is 27 Capital, a financial advisory firm that provides corporate finance and consultancy services across the investment lifecycle, aimed at maximizing shareholder returns.

27 Digital is the group’s digital consultancy and venture builder that offers digital transformation stratagems, venture building as well as technology incubation and development. Finally, there is 27 Projects, which is the project management and project development arm of 27 Group, handling master planning and construction development work for government, public sector agencies, real-estate developers and corporate clients.

The group has delivered services to various high-profile clients over the last four years in the energy, real estate and infrastructure, agrifood, food and property development sectors, and has handled a wide range of high-level projects for the public and private sector.

27 Group - Services

Projects have included a master planning and socioeconomic assessment for development works carried out in the east coast of Malaysia, the strategic formulation of a national 4IR policy framework for Malaysia, creating a development plan for a cross border high-speed rail project, the master planning and business strategy formulation for the development of the East Coast Economic Region, as well as master planning for the development of a port city in the east coast of Malaysia.

A 100% Malaysian owned, local consulting firm, 27 Group considers itself as an extended team of business planners, accountants and project managers for businesses that require that added bandwidth, manpower and time.

Standing out

So, what it is exactly about 27 Group that makes it a unique consultancy and enterprise? As quaint as it might seem, the answer to this lies, quite simply, in the company’s tagline of “Rebuilding Humanity”.

To give this some context, the company was formed during the wave of an evolving sociopolitical climate in Malaysia, in which it was becoming increasingly apparent that Malaysians were looking for deeper and more meaningful values to drive their choices and aspirations.

A general dissatisfaction with “development for development’s sake” seemed to be the sentiment growing not just among local communities but within those in countries around the world. The question that seemed to be hanging in the air was “where exactly are we headed with all this growth, and who will we be as human beings when we get there?”

In many ways 27 Group is a sincere endeavor to find an answer to this question, one that serves the deeper values of the communities and cultures that form our collective society. One might ask how such an ambitious goal might achieved.

Beginning with its internal organisational structure, the company promotes open communication and transparency among team members, with minimal emphasis on hierarchy and bureaucracy. The idea is to build a culture of trust, one in which each team member feels secure and is willing to share their personal point of view on a particular project.

This approach not only promotes greater fluidity in terms of workflow, but also fosters an atmosphere that promotes open engagement and creativity, which improves job satisfaction as well the quality of work that is ultimately delivered to clients.

It doesn’t hurt that the company’s core team of analysts, who have been with the group since its earliest days, are academicians and industry practitioners with backgrounds in actuarial modelling, financial mathematics, data analytics and applied statistical modelling.

27 Group wins an award

Principal Consultants Ivan Yee, Ee Wei Yuan and Tay Yee Ming are according to Ramachandran “deeply committed to their roles” and have developed a “real sense of ownership and agency” with regards to the work they do for the company. “There is a real sense of satisfaction that is felt when we see that we’re really helping our clients realise their full potential. This level of direct involvement gives us a sense of purpose that drives us to give our best with every project.”

The team

The group presently boasts a team of over 50 individuals – a relatively small number, particularly when compared to the bigger consultancy players in the region. However, this is considered an advantage by its shareholders, who feel that the team is able to deliver a more focused and precise approach to project management, while also allowing real human interactions to take place.

“By cutting out the fluff that can sometimes attach itself to the operational functioning of large business enterprises, we are able to get straight to the essential elements of each project, identifying key focus areas and delivering a quality of work that become touchstones for the business community,” said Ramachandran.

Business for good

Seeing itself as a vehicle for spreading awareness throughout the business community, 27 Group has also become increasingly concerned with the principles of ESG, delivering public access webinars that touch on topics such as Low Carbon City Frameworks and Circular Economy paradigms.

On the business front, the firm’s most recent shift in attention has been a focus on the areas of agricultural development and food security, among the top points of commercial and socioeconomic concern in the coming years. “We also consider overall economic enhancement for the purpose of ongoing job creation to be a national priority, one that requires more initiatives from the public and private sector to be championed to increase stakeholder participation.”

As the group continues to evolve, developing its strengths in business process change management, corporate re-engineering, and socioeconomic development and transformation, 27 Group moves forward with the aim of establishing itself as a competitive business consultancy.

One that can meet, and in some ways excel beyond, the standards that have been set by the big international outfits operating today.

Ramachandran: “With an intimate working dynamic and by keeping ourselves accountable to the principles and values of sincere and compassionate work based on transparency and trust, 27 Group strives to deliver high quality and impactful services that propel its clients and the nation towards material prosperity and holistic growth that benefits the wider community in manifold ways.”

“Ultimately, with the goal of Rebuilding Humanity, we are in a constant reiterative and transformative process of rebuilding our attitudes. We want to be more compassionate, more inclusive, more mindful, and more conscious of the impact that our development and growth strategies have on stakeholders across the board.”

“At the end of the day, we are shaping the future that we are going to be living in, and our children’s children will be living in, so we have a responsibility to make sure that this future we build is one that is rooted in values that we can be proud of. That’s the 27 Group way, and we’re moving in that direction with everything that we’ve got.”