KPMG's Kasturi Nathan and Krishman Varges enjoy a symbiotic working relationship that has proven crucial in delivering results to demanding clients.
Kasturi Nathan FCPA
Advisory partner, Head of Sustainability, KPMG Malaysia
When I introduce Krishman to my clients, I call him “my arms and legs, my eyes and ears”. He’s my leader on corporate governance, in driving the right mindset shift, and assisting and facilitating the implementation of corporate governance across companies.
I met Krishman when he was working with the Securities Commission [Malaysia]. As a Big Four auditor, we have our contact points with the Securities Commission in driving corporate governance in Malaysia. Krishman has always had an inclination to work in an environment that brings him closer to listed issuers in bringing change in corporate governance, [by imparting] his value and knowledge on corporate governance. He approached me to see if it was viable for him to explore an opportunity to work alongside me, doing exactly what I do.
I’m very passionate about corporate governance. I’m very passionate about bringing change to companies and then driving that. I feel proud when we see the change executed. As you see companies grow and inculcate the change that you have driven or recommended, [it is] a winning feeling for me.
What Kasturi would change about Krishman: “Krishman still has room to build upon his leadership qualities to identify the different skill sets that may reside in different team members and to allow them to understand their potential.”
That’s a quality that I believe Krishman appreciates just as much, which is why when we have discussions, there is such healthy debate over how we can best improve our recommendations. If there’s a difference in opinion, we’re able to speak about it. We’re able to articulate and understand each other’s opinions – to agree and disagree.
I don’t see much of a difference [between us]; the biggest is our age difference. I can sometimes be more forward-looking, but that just comes with experience and age, and he will continue to build his own experience.
Krishman has been a good source of knowledge. He’s very passionate about his work, which really fascinates me because it’s not common that you find individuals of his age who are so very clear about how they want to drive their corporate career and leadership.
Many find themselves settling in an area that they probably think is best and sort of grow to like it. In the case of Krishman, he identified where his strength lies very early. His stint with the Securities Commission was a good platform that allowed him to grow his knowledge, and he was also quick to recognise that he would have to move to a consulting firm that would allow him to bridge this knowledge to drive its application.
Krishman is not only passionate, he’s also disciplined and approachable. He’s willing to coach. He allows his team members to feel that they are [all] important, and they grow together as a team.
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Krishman Varges CPA
Manager, Governance and Sustainability, KPMG Malaysia
I think my boss has transformed me into a firebrand. I don’t mind the long hours because I gain a lot of job satisfaction and I enjoy the intensity of my work.
Kasturi has an eye for detail, and she looks for consistency. We do a lot of analytics and create narratives for our clients. We help them to develop policies and procedures. You can’t do that with a cookie-cutter approach.
We deal with highly capitalised, large, publicly listed companies in heavily regulated industries. These are the sort of companies [which] want everything spick and span. In our work, we are also dealing with high-powered individuals, especially board members. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed in my one-and-a-half years working with Kasturi.
I met Kasturi when I worked for the Securities Commission. She is a no-nonsense person and she wants work done on time. My first impression was the effective way [in which] she speaks, her composure and the way she articulates her thoughts. She can diffuse any situation with tact.
What Krishman would change about Kasturi: “The stretch goals she sets for me – they keep me awake at night.”
There is a bit of an age difference, but she’s able to bridge that gap. She doesn’t have a very old-school approach – she is very much into new modes of thinking and new ways of working. She constantly keeps abreast of changes.
I am still a far cry from being like Kasturi. She shares my passion for corporate governance and how to tell a good story. Where we differ is in people management. When I deal with team members, I’m a bit more authoritarian compared to her. She’s more into giving people free rein, while also acting as a sounding board for ideas.
She’s also very fair and gives credit to people. For example, we have had the chance to develop a corporate governance guide that is used by directors all over the country, and Kasturi made sure we were acknowledged for our work.
Kasturi can be quite inspirational.
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