Kostya Polyakov

Forty Under 40 Winner 2017: Partner, technology, media and telecommunications industry leader, Greater Vancouver, KPMG; Age 38

Despite being one of the youngest accounting officials in all of Canada to reach the position of partner at a major global firm, Kostya Polyakov has not lost his self-deprecating sense of humour.

“I had multiple thoughts [when I first heard about making the Forty under 40 list], one of which was that they only got 39 applications, and that would be the only reason I’m in the 40.… It was very humbling – I was nominated by one of my clients, and I didn’t know it was happening until the very end – and to know that you are impacting somebody, that was a great feeling.”

Polyakov, currently leader of technology, media and telecommunications industries for KPMG in Greater Vancouver, reached partner status at age 33 in 2012 before being named to his current post in 2015. Now having advised multibillion-dollar firms and assisted in major initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions in the local tech sector, Polyakov offers a unique perspective on the growing industry and the challenges it faces.

“What we’ve seen historically is that Vancouver is a city of serial entrepreneurs,” he said. “It’s a great place to start a company, and then the owner would want to sell and create another one. That sounds great – and it does have some positives to it – but people want to have long-term, sustainable companies here that grow and hire people. While the startup community is deep, there is a limited availability of mid-level financing if you want to ramp up.”

Polyakov noted that one crucial factor to address will be the $100 million BC Tech Fund launched by the province in 2016. He added that KPMG is trying to take the lead in implementing new technology into its offices – to encourage clients to think to innovate and evolve.

To that end, it has started using IBM’s Watson AI program to see how it can use that technology to service clients’ needs better.

“Rather than just providing our traditional services, what we are really excited about is to be able to talk to a business about how to innovate, to stay ahead of the competition,” Polyakov said. “That’s the future, and the truth is it’s fun to help businesses innovate.”  

Birthplace

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Where you live now: 

Richmond

Highest level of education: 

Bachelor of commerce with honours, finance major, University of British Columbia

Currently reading: 

The Agent by Leigh Steinberg

Currently listening to: 

“Knocking At The Door,” Arkells

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: 

Archeologist

Profession you would most like to try: 

Sports agent (à la Jerry Maguire)

Toughest business or professional decision: 

Whether to pursue a career in accounting

Advice you would give the younger you: 

Life is a marathon, not a sprint 

What’s left to do: 

Figure out how the profession will evolve in the future

Join us to celebrate the 2017 Forty under 40 Awards on January 23, 2018, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit http://www.biv.com/events/40under40 

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