In this interview, José Huyke, Consulting Principal at RSM Puerto Rico, talks about the firm’s client-first philosophy, being accessible and "down-to-earth," and the changing role of consultants.
Could you start by telling us a little bit more about yourself?
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. After my high school graduation, I went to the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Upon graduating, I went to work as a computer designer in Boston. I did that for three years but knew that it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I worked locked up in a laboratory environment. If you know me, you know that I’m a people’s person. I wanted to work with people.
Tell us the story of how you came to work in the firm and your career path to partnership.
Looking for a change, I returned to Puerto Rico. A friend connected me to RSM and other companies where I interviewed. I interviewed in June and started working here in September 1989, as a Senior, because I already had some experience. Then Consulting Director Carlos Cuevas took me under his wing, taught me the business model and gave me the opportunity to grow. The relationship I developed with him, as well as with the team and the clients, made me feel special. After 3 years, I was promoted to Supervisor, then to Manager in 1993, and to Partner in 2002. I was 37 years old.
In the past few years, RSM Puerto Rico has managed to overcome three natural disasters, two hurricanes (María and Fiona) and an earthquake—all of which devastated the island—and a pandemic that changed the way business is done. What has been your strategy to lead your team through such challenging times?
When facing such challenging times, my partners and I put humans first. After Hurricane Maria, we quickly understood that it was no longer "business as usual," so a mindset change was in order. Adapting to a new situation requires a different strategy, so our priority became supporting our people and our clients. Right after María, one of the best ideas that we implemented was to invite clients to work from our office, since it was operational fairly quickly. To this day, many customers thank us because, as they have told us, that helped their businesses. We did the same with our employees, as it was not uncommon to see their family members spending some time here too. We have applied the same approach to every other crisis that has followed.
What do you uniquely contribute to the team of partners?
Good looks! (laughs) I am "down-to-earth" and have my own different way of looking at things. I like to think that, oftentimes, I’m a good sounding board for my partners, and I pride myself in being an accessible and willing guy in our team.
How are things changing in the practice of your specialization that is reshaping businesses?
A lot is changing. Businesses are changing. From a consulting perspective, multiply that by a thousand because the role of a consultant is broad, and clients have a greater diversity of needs in this changing landscape. The challenge is how to keep bringing in the expertise to the firm because, unfortunately, the years of experience that a given candidate may have do not necessarily translate into being a good consulting professional. That makes for a tricky hiring process. In the future, the challenge will continue to be that of balancing breadth of knowledge with specialization.
How do you envision the future of the firm?
Our firm has experienced sustained growth these past years, and that is still an upwards trend. As we continue focusing on serving our clients, RSM will continue expanding its service offering to meet the rising needs of our clients, without steering away from our core business and values.
And what about you as a person outside of work – what do you like to do in your free time?
I truly enjoy what I do, so much that I don’t see it as a job but as a lifestyle. That said, my family comes first and, of course, I enjoy spending time with them. I am the biggest fan of my wife and our three sons. As for hobbies and personal goals, I’m a long-distance runner, averaging 5-6-7 miles a day to stay in shape (though not lately!). I have run three marathons and other long distance races, including Coamo’s San Blas, and have always dreamed of competing in what is called a Trail Ultra (UTMB being the world’s premier event—but that is just a dream). Oh, one more thing! I collect aged rum. My collection currently holds about 40-50 bottles of some really goooood stuff!
This is the fifth delivery in a series of interviews to our partners and leadership, in lieu of the firm’s 45th anniversary celebration and inspired by an internal communication initiative by RSM International.