The greatness of KPMG is built on the greatness of the individuals who make up the firm, both in the present and in the past.
The greatness of KPMG is built on the greatness of the individuals who make up the firm.
Tribute to retiring partners Owi Kek Hean, Tan Huay Lim, Venkat Iyer, Richard Tan, Pek Hak Bin and Andrew Tinney
Source: (Veritat, 28 September 2015)
The greatness of KPMG is built on the greatness of the individuals who make up the firm, both in the present and in the past. The continuous regeneration of the firm, taking over from the people who came before us, and bringing the firm to greater heights, is an ongoing endeavour.
This year, we see the retirement of some of our most accomplished stalwarts, with the retirement of six of our partners. Each has been a pioneer in his own way, lending their individual strengths so that all of us can enjoy the collective strength of the firm. They have, in different ways, been a source of inspiration and wisdom to me.
On behalf of all of us, I thank
our retiring partners for the selfless sharing of their experience during their time with us, and leaving us richer for the learning.
Tham Sai Choy
Managing partner, KPMG Singapore
The stuff of legends
Owi Kek Hean's no-nonsense demeanour hides a man with a big heart
One of the things that Partner Owi Kek Hean looks forward to after 33 years with KPMG is to have more dinners with his family.
The deputy managing partner, whom everyone fondly calls by his surname, said: "Since I took over the Enterprise portfolio, I seldom go home for dinner with my family as I would be out entertaining clients. Thankfully, my wife and children have been very supportive and understanding. So I suppose you can say it's now 'payback time'."
He joined what was then known as Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. on 1 December 1982 as a graduate assistant in the Tax department.
From C-suite clients to tea ladies, Owi is able to interact with people at a level that all of them are comfortable with, said Director Brandon Lim. This ability to connect with anyone and everyone is what made Owi so effective in leading the Enterprise team.
Having lived through the various economic crises, from the 1997 Asian financial crisis to the more recent US subprime crisis, served under four managing partners in KPMG and the name changes, Owi said he certainly experienced a lot and had seen the firm grow from strength to strength.
He said: "What makes KPMG so successful is the DNA that we have, our culture and compassion where staff are more than digits, and our core values which all of us hold so dear. And where change had seen other firms fall into decline, our leadership has evolved with the times. Our people are adaptable and able to embrace change and help the firm continue to grow."
When asked what advice he has for the younger folks in the firm looking to build a successful career, Owi said: "There is no express lane to your success. Working hard and smart is still the route to success. "Don't give up easily because along the way, you will face challenges, but always ask yourself, whether you are brave and bold enough to deal with and overcome the challenge instead of quitting and taking the easy way out."
A proud ambassador of KPMG
Tan Huay Lim's passion for work sets example for many
This is a tale that not many in the firm may know, but Partner Tan Huay Lim, known for his traditional values and stoicism, joined KPMG in 1981 for love.
The Nanyang University graduate was a senior purchasing officer at a Japanese consumer products firm back then, but needed to secure a professional job to apply for Singapore permanent residency and marry his Singaporean girlfriend. So despite a hefty 50 percent pay cut, he jumped at the opportunity to join what was back then Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. as a graduate assistant.
He not only won his love, and set up a happy family with her, but he also brought with him a passion for serving clients, which led him to establish a very successful career with KPMG Singapore.
Huay Lim was admitted as an Audit partner in 1991, 10 years after he joined the firm. And in 2010, he became the Singapore head of KPMG Global China Practice. During his time in KPMG, the man who believes in the traditional Chinese values of strong family and work ethics, has been responsible for the audit of many privately-owned enterprises, multinational corporations and public listed companies.
His work also covered diverse businesses, including insurance, banking, manufacturing, trading, real estate, fast moving consumer goods, infrastructure, construction, transport, shipping, mining, and oil and gas. He has also been involved in a number of initial public offerings, debt financing and merger and acquisition transitions. His passion in serving his clients (at all hours) is well-known to those who've worked with him.
In his retirement years, he aims to spend more valuable time with his family, while still staying active. Huay Lim said he has learnt from many people in the firm in his time here. And to borrow something he learnt from ex-partner Ron Chatterjee who told him: "As we age, what we can remember are pleasant memories". So he said: "With this, I am retiring with pleasant memories of KPMG."
Living each day to learn
Venkat Iyer's career with KPMG spanned three countries, 33 years
Partner Venkat Iyer's journey with KPMG spanned 33 years and three countries - Bahrain, UK and Singapore. His longest - and most unforgettable - stint was here with the Singapore firm.
When asked to reflect on his career, the gentle-looking man replied: "It has been one memorable journey. In fact, I've been so busy that I haven't spent much time thinking about what I plan to do once I retire."
He first joined the former KMG in Bahrain, before heading to London for secondment. But the infamous British weather was not his cup of tea. He said: "I could not take the weather. It was so depressing." As luck would have it, two of the partners he worked with in UK joined the Malaysian and Singaporean practices, and as they needed someone with insurance experience, they asked him if he was willing to come east with the promise of not just better climate but also experiencing firsthand the growth of the ‘Asian tigers'.
Venkat packed his bags and moved to these sunny shores in December 1992 - and embarked on his exciting journey with KPMG Singapore. He said: "The last 23 years here have been an amazing journey and I have been blessed to have staff, managers and partners who have been very nice to work with and been extremely supportive. It's amazing how everyone works together to support one another to get everything done.
His philosophy for career longevity is to stay the course and look on each challenge as an opportunity to learn. He said: "Just enjoy what you do then you won't feel tired and stressed. Instead of looking at work as a chore, look at it as something interesting, see it as a chance to learn something with each new client or industry to enrich yourself and build up your expertise."
Finally, he said: "KPMG has been and will always be there in my prayers, and I wish the firm and everyone a very pleasant, interesting and enjoyable journey, and of course, good health and happiness always.
"I don't know whether I will miss my work at KPMG, but I will certainly miss the wonderful people in the firm. I really love them all."
Once KPMG, always KPMG
Richard Tan has a special bond with KPMG, finally retiring with his first employer
Three times lucky, that's how one can look at Risk Consulting Partner Richard Tan's career with KPMG Singapore. He is retiring after more than 15 cumulative years of working with the firm.
A true pioneer of the ‘Once KPMG, Always KPMG' spirit, Richard first joined KPMG in October 1978 as an audit trainee taking his Association of Certified Chartered Accountants certification. His second time was in 1997, as an associate director focusing on internal and external audit work for banks. His ‘third time lucky' was when he rejoined Risk Consulting in 2008.
Outside KPMG, Richard built up his banking expertise by joining banks, like JP Morgan Chase, Standard Chartered Bank and DBS Bank. He said that he has been fortunate to work on both sides, as a bank staff and auditor or consultant. KPMG, however, held a special place in his heart, which was why he returned time and again, with the final time staying till retirement age.
He said one of KPMG's biggest draw is how the culture is centred around people. The firm stands out for its effort in helping staff bond through activities like the annual overseas department trips. The trips he took with his colleagues to Bangkok, Bali and Taipei are some of his greatest memories of working here.
Richard, who is currently an active contributor to the community, will continue being so even on retirement. The adjunct lecturer at Singapore Management University, where he taught risk management and business continuity management, has plans to share his knowledge as a lecturer with the future business leaders.
He is also currently the chairman of Singapore Repertory Theatre's audit and finance committee, a member of Boys' Brigade of Singapore's audit committee and sits on the board of trustees for the Brash Trust, a charity established to assist needy persons in their preparation for full-time Christian mission work.
Partner Irving Low said Richard has been a mentor to him both at work and beyond, especially as a spiritual counsellor to whom he turns to for guidance and support. He added: "Richard's constant smile and gentle demeanour almost definitely defies the banking sector, where aggression and extroverts dominate the personalities who ply this trade. Even today, as he is about to retire, his constant smile defines who Richard really is!"
Keeping close ties
Pek Hak Bin goes back to industry, after helping KPMG to set up energy sector expertise
Partner Pek Hak Bin, who heads the Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) sector, may have spent only three years with KPMG Singapore, but don't expect him to become a stranger after he leaves.
Hak Bin told Veritat he is retiring from KPMG Singapore to return to the oil and gas industry. But, he was quick to add: "Once KPMG, Always KPMG. I was a long-time client of the firm before I joined, and now that I am going back to the business, I think that I will still continue to keep up the close relationship with KPMG, probably by being a client again."
The ex-country president of BP Singapore was a well-known energy specialist in Asia with over 20 years of experience in various disciplines of the energy industry before joining KPMG Singapore in January 2013. He said: "I was from the oil and gas industry, and I've decided to return to the business. I will be setting up my own oil and gas company, dealing with operation and upstream production and trading."
In his time with the firm, Hak Bin counts the establishment of the ENR practice, the successful setting up of the Global Energy Institute (GEI), the set-up of the ENR Centre of Excellence (CoE) as well as growing the brand and reach of KPMG in the energy industry as among his greatest accomplishments.
Associate Director Desmond Tay added that it has been a real privilege to understudy Hak Bin and thanked Hak Bin for the opportunities to lead multiple engagements, manage client meetings and discussions. "I would like to thank Hak Bin for his leadership during his tenure and wish him good luck as he set out to pursue his personal interests. May he grow and prosper in every aspect of life."
Andrew Tinney led MC ASEAN to new heights
Seeing a lot more of his children, who are based in the UK, is one of Partner Andrew Tinney's plans for retirement, along with helping friends grow an online games business and travelling, especially to Eastern Europe and South America.
Andrew joined KPMG Singapore after more than 10 years in banking, and he said after discussing several opportunities in Asia with a number of consultancies, he picked KPMG not just for having a strategy he could identify with, but also because he was impressed by the people he met.
The biggest legacy that he leaves behind is Management Consulting (MC) ASEAN. He said: "One of my greatest achievements in KPMG was helping to bring together the disparate consulting businesses of KPMG's member firms in the ASEAN region, creating a shared sense of purpose and helping to instil a level of confidence in our people that we could take on the most complex and challenging assignments and defeat the most intense competition.
I also enjoyed helping to identify, recruit and promote excellent talent and drive a true meritocracy across multiple countries and cultures." For staff with aspirations to become a partner, Andrew said: "KPMG is a great firm with a truly collaborative partner group...The spirit of partnership is impossible to replicate in corporate life. Being a KPMG partner is a fantastic life experience and a great career choice."