CEO Champion: Managing Partner Walks The Talk

Sep 25, 2015 1 Min Read

Photo (above): Datuk Johan Idris (second from right), managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia, receiving the CEO Champion award from Datuk Seri Idris Jala.


The third installation of the Life at Work Awards saw Datuk Johan Idris, managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia, winning this year’s highly-coveted “CEO Champion” category.

Since helming the firm in January 2014, Johan has put diversity and inclusion squarely at the top of the agenda for his KPMG leadership team.

This year, KPMG appointed two female partners as business unit heads. Chan Siew Mei was appointed head of advisory, while Dani Michaux was appointed the role head of ASPAC cyber security and chief information officer of KPMG in Malaysia.

Through Johan’s leadership, he also created an equal admission (50%) of men and women executive directors as partners at KPMG in Malaysia.

Chan Siew Mei
Chan Siew Mei, head of advisory, KPMG in Malaysia

“Proud to be given the recognition that I have contributed to the success of KPMG. I would like to thank the leadership team for the opportunities given, and for their confidence in me to lead the team to scale to greater heights.”


Dani Michaux
Dani Michaux, head of ASPAC cyber security and chief information officer, KPMG in Malaysia

“Happy to be given the opportunities locally, regionally and globally. The leadership support and guidance to me and the team, in view of the complex situation and large scale global client issues has been a key enabler to our growth.”

Leading the way

According to Johan: “The diversity and inclusion agenda has always been an integral part of KPMG’s DNA, which started with our founding partners of the firm. My role as the managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia is to ensure that we execute our plans and sustain the momentum.”

Asked if he needed to convince senior management when it comes to a change in culture and mindset in Malaysia, he said: “Our partners here are already convinced that employees are looking for purposeful work today. Our main focus now is to articulate what needs to be done and to create a conducive working environment that support these needs.”

He added: “People will always have my full support when it comes to general well-being of KPMG employees. That includes the many efforts taken to achieve work-life balance, which helps our people to work at their best.”

Inspire Confidence and Empower Change

KPMG in Malaysia became a trendsetter when they announced an unprecedented initiative of one-week office closure, starting in September 2015.

The change forms part of their “Inspire Confidence and Empower Change” initiative, which is likely to be the talk of town amongst competitors, and even other KPMG offices worldwide.

Said Johan: “The idea of this one-week paid time off is to ensure that everyone at KPMG, employees and employers alike, are not working or checking their work emails. We’ve encouraged them to take this opportunity to go on holidays, rejuvenate and spend precious time with people who matter in their lives. We understand that the only way employees can really take a good break is to make sure their bosses go on holiday too.”

Retaining talent

Johan shared a personal experience, describing when his wife told him that women generally want to achieve a sense of financial independence and remain part of the workforce, even after settling down and becoming mothers.

With this insight, he truly understood that many talented women in the marketplace sometimes feel pressured to choose between career and family.

He said: “Organisations need to recognise that our country will eventually lose out if these great female talents leave their jobs for good. You will certainly risk losing your people if they discover other companies that provide better flexibility at work.”

Through Johan’s leadership, many beneficial changes are taking shape through the diversity and inclusion agenda at KPMG in Malaysia.

“When your people are well taken care of and enriched professionally, they will be much more motivated to give everything they have to help their company meet objectives and realise its overall vision.”

Johan Idris
Datuk Johan Idris, managing partner, KPMG in Malaysia, awarded CEO Champion

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts by our People, Performance and Culture team, we have realised the national target of achieving women representation at senior levels. Thirty per cent of partners in KPMG are women.”

Enhancing diversity work-life at KPMG

  • More than 50% of heads of department are women, with strong representation in key roles.
  • Formalised the implementation of flexible work arrangements.
  • Flexibility to work less than KPMG’s standard full-time hours, i.e. work shorter days or work fewer days weekly.
  • Options for career breaks of more than six months to up to one year, apart from unpaid leave.
For more information on KPMG’s initiatives, please visit
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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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