CEDA member profile: KPMG


Alison Kitchen, National Chairman,

KPMG Australia

What are KPMG’s current operations and how do you see them changing moving forward?  

KPMG Australia is part of a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services across a wide range of industries, government and not-for-profit sectors. Our success depends in large part on our ability to continuously evolve our service offerings to meet the needs of our clients. We work with clients to solve complex challenges, steer change, disrupt sectors and grow.  

In the past 15 years, we have broadened our service offerings to meet the needs of clients as they face into complexity and uncertainty, technology advancement and industry disruption.   We have built new teams focused on customer, regulatory change, engineering and asset management, automation and digital transformation.  

Through the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked closely with our clients in the immediate response, building resilience and positioning for recovery. We work with our clients to build sustainable pathways for growth and a positive future. 

What do you think is unique about KPMG? 

We are driven by a strong sense of purpose – everything we do is focused on inspiring confidence and empowering change for our people, clients and the community. We are conscious of the impact of what we do today and work with our people and clients to create solutions for sustainable growth and a positive future in which all Australians prosper. Our people talk about our collaborative culture where we support each other to be the best we can be and our focus on harnessing the energy and diversity of all our people.

How would you describe your role? 

As the National Chair of KPMG Australia, I am responsible first and foremost for ensuring we hold ourselves to the highest professional standards of governance, quality and integrity to engender the trust of our people, clients and the community.  

I am responsible for representing the Australian firm at KPMG’s global board table, providing leadership to our Partners, people and representing the KPMG brand in the marketplace.     

In my market facing role, I meet regularly with clients, non-executive directors, and representatives of government, regulators and industry and business associations.   

How has the organisation changed in your time there? 

I joined KPMG in 1983. At the time, it was very much an accounting firm focused on delivering external audit and tax advisory services to largely local clients. Today, the firm is a multi-disciplinary firm operating across the globe, providing a globally consistent set of services to meet our clients emerging needs. In recent years, we have pivoted from a business providing people to deliver services, to one that delivers client solutions harnessing the power of technology in combination with the expertise of our people. 

Another major shift in the organisation has been the way we have talked more explicitly about the important role our firm and the profession plays in tackling important social and economic issues. This focus has been critical as we step up to greater community expectations around the role of business. 

What have been some of the highlights of your time with the firm? 

I have enjoyed a wonderfully diverse career with KPMG working in various parts of the business and in management and governance roles. There have been many highlights but the most special are those connected to great client successes. In my current role as National Chair, I am most proud when I see our people coming together, bringing the best of KPMG to our clients.

What are the public policy issues most of interest to yourself and KPMG at the moment? 

The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 present an opportunity for a reset on a whole range of public policy issues. KPMG welcomes the opportunity to contribute to and facilitate important debate and discussion around issues such as tax reform, industrial relations, workforce participation and childcare, climate and energy, federal and state relations and addressing inequality and disadvantage for minority and disadvantaged groups.   

The way in which the business community has led through the crisis demonstrates our collective capacity to achieve important change and a collective commitment to a sustainable and inclusive Australia.

What are the ambitions for KPMG over the next five years?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many shifts already underway for us and our clients. Much of our immediate focus will be using the momentum to drive further innovation, agility and creativity and to broaden our service offering further to meet the changing demands of our clients.     

This crisis has taught us a lot about our capacity as an organisation to adapt to large scale change and it has shown us we can be bolder in our decision making. We will work across the organisation to harness that boldness and drive change where it benefits our people and clients. 

The rapid shift to remote and flexible working has delivered benefits for our people and our clients. We will look for ways to embed those practices in our DNA.  

What do you think the role of a large company is today and how is it changing? 

Big businesses are important members of the community and play a vital role in our nation’s economic prosperity and the wellbeing of all Australians. It is now clear the community is an important stakeholder for all business and we can’t separate the work we do from the world we operate in. We have an important role to play in addressing some of societies greatest challenges but we must be mindful of only doing so in a way that genuinely provides value rather than mere virtue signalling.