Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Kathy Hannan: I am the National Managing Partner, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility. I began my career at KPMG in 1985 and was admitted to the partnership in 1994 in the international corporate services practice. In 1996, I was promoted to Midwest Partner-in-Charge of International Services, and Partner-in-Charge of KPMG’s Chicago Metro-Tax practice in 1998. In 2000, I was appointed to the role of Vice Chair, Human Resources, and in 2004, I was named the Midwest Area Managing Partner of Tax Services – the first female to receive such a position at KPMG.
In 2009, I was appointed to my current role as National Managing Partner, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility, in which I provide the strategic direction to leverage philanthropic partnerships, stakeholder engagement, environmental best practices, and diversity objectives with the firm’s strategy for long-term enterprise sustainability. I also serve as the global lead partner on several of the firm’s priority accounts.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
KH: KPMG’s sustainability program is more than just a program – it is who we are. We view corporate responsibility as a valuable opportunity to engage others, one that is leveraged throughout our firm through our integrity and values, our diverse and inclusive culture, the ways in which we interact with our people and serve our communities, and our advocacy for the environment. We believe that corporate responsibility is about sustainability: By doing business in a better way, we help drive community, talent, environmental, and market sustainability, to the benefit of all.
At KPMG, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a more integrated strategy for the firm acknowledging our unique position in the marketplace in creating a sustainable future which has really resonated with the broader community and our people. It is through firm-sponsored programs and networks that we have really made this difference in the communities in which we live and work.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
KH: It is difficult to single out one individual who affected my journey, as there have been so many influential people I’ve met along the way and I know there will be others in the future who will continue to have an impact on me.
However, there was one friend I had as a child, with whom I had lost touch for some time when her family moved back to the Middle East and recently reconnected with. She made me realize that there is an “I” in leadership and that “I” stands for inspiration. She taught me hope, positivity and focus on potential, all of which have been reinforced throughout my life by many people I’ve encountered on both personal and professional levels.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
KH: Staying in the moment when engaging on any level – whether it is personal, family, work, community or otherwise. We all have busy schedules – both personally and professionally – but it is critical to focus on what I like to call “the two P’s”: staying positive and always considering the potential.
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
KH: There are many things that I am personally proud of, including my family, my colleagues, my career and recently embarking on a journey to achieve my PhD. From the standpoint of KPMG, I was especially proud of our Chairman, John Veihmeyer, for receiving the Corporate Responsibility CEO of the Year award, which was a huge achievement for the firm.
Another recent achievement I’m proud of is the 10-year anniversary of the KPMG Network of Women (KNOW), which I helped to establish in 2003 with the firm’s Women’s Advisory Board. Over the last ten years, we have grown KNOW to 63 local chapters in cities across the U.S., which are responsible for delivering a wide array of women’s programs and activities to foster an inclusive environment where women can thrive.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
KH: My one major change would be that every company understood the potential and power they have to positively impact the future and create a more sustainable world through their inspiration, behaviors and investments.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
KH: It’s always a GREAT day when I can get through my ever-expanding To Do List! But, the perfect day encompasses all that is important to me – my family, my work, my friends, and my own self. I believe that leaders have to make time to take care of themselves in order to be effective and feel stimulated. And the thing that gives me the biggest charge is having an impact. Whether someone feels inspired by my work, the work of my colleagues, or the work of KPMG in the community…what can be more perfect than that?