The One-Minute Interview
Could you share with us some interesting highlights of your job?
I am involved in all aspects of talent identification, development and retention at a strategic and operational level. What makes my job interesting is that there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to talent-spotting, as well as the challenging task of developing and implementing initiatives and programmes to engage and retain our best talents.
Our people agenda is a sophisticated one where we look at how we performance manage, mobilize our key talents, compensate them at a meaningful level and have a compelling career proposition for our best and brightest to aspire to be managers and partners of the firm.
What makes KPMG a great place to work in?
We have a vision of being the Envy of All. KPMG is committed to the people agenda and one of the areas of priority is creating an optimal environment that is conducive for our people to work and play at the same time.
We have a highly publicized KPMG Clubhouse where people are able to meet each other or with external parties on a formal or social basis in a comfortable and modern environment. Fully equipped with meeting rooms, entertainment facilities and a fully stocked kitchen and bar, our people can retreat to a place they can call their own, wind down, or simply, catch up with others.
In addition to our investments in making KPMG a physically attractive place, we strongly believe and adhere to our core values like respecting the individual, working together and open and honest communication. These values underscore how we behave and interact with each other, no different from how one would expect close family members to interact with each other.
At KPMG, we are truly one big inclusive family.
What is the one trait you have which has led to your success?
Passion and commitment are important traits. They drive everything else that’s needed for success. If you are passionate, you will motivate yourself to be the best you can be, and to make a difference to the firm and to the people at large. No challenge is beyond your threshold and no bad day will last because the promise of a good day will always be there.
Being passionate is also about being positive that the desired outcome will happen if you put in your best efforts. Being passionate is also about never giving up when the desired outcome doesn’t happen.
Commitment is about personal accountability because you will do what’s right and what’s good for yourself and your people all of the time. Finally, commitment is about having the tenacity and perseverance to see something through without giving up. This, I believe, is an important trait of any successful person.
What are the challenges you face when hiring new employees?
It is always important to hire new employees whose core values are aligned with ours. Adapting to a new workplace has many operational and cultural implications so it is our job to orientate them effectively not just to the technical or operational demands of the work, but to make them understand and embrace the firm’s culture and its core values.
Both the employer and employee will have expectations, and a good onboarding programme is about building that bridge and making that connection with new hires. Finally, it is about making them feel part of the family and how they are critical in actualizing the firm’s vision and goals.
What is the one thing candidates should not make when they interview for a position?
Bad English! …(chuckle). Actually, it is important that candidates are able to articulate their responses effectively. We are a professional services firm and that means we need to communicate and interact in a manner that reflects our competence and professionalism. This is extremely important from the clients’ perspective because they expect their service providers to offer them quality solutions, depth and an insight into their issues. This will require our people to be precise communicators and have excellent people skills. One more thing – whenever we ask why audit, never say “I like numbers”.
How do you spot potential leaders and what does KPMG do to groom them?
This is a tough one as it touches on the nature vs nurture debate. Whilst I believe that there are certain personality dimensions and attributes a person might possess to suggest leadership potential, the challenge is to see how one manages problems and conflicts in real-life situations, and work towards a win-win outcome.
When we interview candidates, we measure them against a set of skills and behaviours which gives us an indication of a person’s potential and fit to the firm. Typically, we will be in a better position to make an assessment of a person after he/she completes at least one year-end cycle. We are then able to distinguish the exceptional performers from the rest.
If we tagged a person as an exceptional or EP performer, the individual will be given opportunities to demonstrate his/her leadership skills in more complex engagements, participate in multi-disciplinary teams, be part of think-tank committees, and given international mobility opportunities to develop their business, leadership and people skills. They are given a clear direction on their careers and promotion opportunities, as well as the kind of learning and development programmes they would need to bring them one step closer to being a partner. Finally, our partners are also responsible for coaching and mentoring our high potentials. This is extremely high on our people agenda.
With such a demanding schedule, how do you manage balancing work and family? What advice can you offer?
Everyone has a different formula to balance work and family. You should find one that fits best for you. Having balance is never about having a 9 to 5 job. For me, I prefer to call it a worklife continuum as work is an extension of life and vice versa. The important thing is being able to manage your time wisely, commit to the priorities you have set for yourself and make time to do what you love to do. Keep a positive mental attitude, and don’t take yourself so seriously. Give yourself the needed break to be with your loved ones and the activities which bring you happiness, and never neglect your health!