KPMG Leadership has been on a communication rampage this month, answering questions from inquiring Klynveldians about the firm’s performance and compensation.
This time around, the dynamic duo (joined by COO Henry Keizer) discuss their roles in the firm and the election process because, presumably, it might make for a good ice breaker at your upcoming Memorial Day BBQ.
Inquisitor 1: Congratulations on your new roles – Chairman and Deputy Chairman. What can you tell us about the process that you go through in having that occur? And what’s the differentiation between your two roles?
Flynn: The board has a responsibility to have a succession planning process in place to elect the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. That is then put to an up or down vote of the partners for ratification. Chairman and Deputy Chairman are – today – a five-year term jointly and then a three-year second term, should they so choose. The board elects them to a second term.
John and I were elected in June of 2005, for a five-year term. I was elected as Global Chairman on October 1, 2007. I came to the conclusion through the fall that I really couldn’t do both roles full time.
In recognizing that in a complex, changing world today, we really need a full-time U.S. Chairman and Deputy Chairman to take care of what has to get done here in the world that we’re in—and as well, we’ll talk more about it, but we have to evolve the global firm, a $20 billion organization – shouldn’t there be a full-time executive team that wakes up every day on how to carry out the responsibilities of a $20 billion organization?
Veihmeyer: In terms of specific responsibilities – as Chairman, I’m the CEO. Henry chairs the Management Committee and a lot of what we talked about in terms of executing effectively and making sure that we are – from an operational standpoint – a very high-performance organization, Henry will lead through his role as Chief Operating Officer.
In other words – the process at KPMG isn’t exactly the electoral college. It’s basically a fight until the (near) death and the winner gets the thumbs up/thumbs down, Gladiator style, from the Board. Then they shake hands, slap each other on the ass, etc. and get back to work.
For this past cycle it does sound like T Fly was a little burned out from the globe trotting and keeping the peace Stateside so it was natural for JVeih to step up to the big chair for the U.S. after the terms expired. A $20 billion company is nothing to sneeze at so we thought that maybe we should start taking this “global firm” thing seriously (even though we’re all independent of each other and are legally not one firm) and let somebody tackle it full time.
Inquisitor 2: How will the succession process work within the next three months?
Veihmeyer: In terms of the specific things that have to take place, obviously we have some things around the leadership team that we have to get in place. Henry comes out of his role leading our Audit practice. So we will get all that in place as we lead up to early June, what team will be in place as we go forward post-June 10th, leading the firm. Henry…
Keizer: The transition that Tim and John described sets us up in a very good position to make sure as we move through fiscal 2010, we won’t be focused internally. It will allow us not only to continue to build on the foundation that we’ve built over the past several years, but more importantly, to really stay focused on making sure when we look back on 2010, it will be a year where everyone could say we’re on our way to recovery. The things that we all want, in terms of a more vibrant business, more rewards for our people, are all beginning to come back into the picture, and that that’s what we’re all committed to, I’m sure.
We’re taking applications for Hank’s position. You have to be able to stick to talking points, send out a mass amount of emails (via admin assistant natch) and smile a lot. Oh, and you can’t gush when Phil shows up for photo ops; you’ve got to keep it cool.