• Heather Baker, Author |
5 min read

There is a warm satisfaction that comes with serving as KPMG in Canada's Social Impact Leader. This role brings me closer to the many people in our firm who are making a real difference in their communities. I also get to join colleagues in celebrating the more than 50 awards given to some 130 people across the country through our KPMG Impact Awards.

For 15 years and counting, these awards have turned a deserved spotlight on the people across KPMG in Canada’s network who have demonstrated a commitment to doing what matters “for better.” They are sharing their time and their talents to make real and lasting change through community volunteering, socially impactful client work, pro bono work and employee-led initiatives in support of social issues, environmental sustainability, inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E), and mental health.

I am especially grateful that the Awards provide an opportunity for KPMG to amplify our changemakers’ impact. Each award recipient receives a donation to their charity of choice; this year alone, I’m proud to say KPMG has provided over $70,000 to many fantastic causes. It’s also gratifying to see many of our national award recipients go on to join Elio Luongo, KPMG in Canada’s Chief Executive Officer, at his Leaders of Tomorrow Council in recognition of their embodiment of the firm’s values.

Which brings me to this year’s recipients, who as always include individuals and groups both nationally and regionally, in four important categories: Social Changemaker; ID&E and Mental Health Champion; Greenest Champion; and Most Volunteer Hours. I invite you to watch the following short video celebrating this year’s national recipients and then read more about them below.

Social Changemaker: Thelma Muronzi with KPMG's Technology Risk Consulting practice received this award for a number of activities, including her founding of Cyber LifeHax, an organization committed to delivering impactful and engaging online safety "lifehacks.” This expanded into cybersecurity education for seniors and other vulnerable people through Thelma’s volunteering with the Kamloops Adult Learners Society. She was also recognized for providing educational programs such as the Zimbabwe Application Security Bootcamp. “Seniors are the forgotten ones,” says Thelma, whose passion for cybersecurity was nurtured early with a passion for computers gained at her uncle’s home in Zimbabwe when she was a child. “Especially given the speed at which technology is evolving, I believe we have a duty and a responsibility to help the most vulnerable among us protect themselves from harm. After all,” she says, “if not you, then who?”

ID&E and Mental Health Champion: This award was given to the amazing Canada-wide team behind our Salam Network, including Asma Hasan, Sharjil Salim, Sabeen Awan, Mohammad Nadeem, Saqib Jawed, Nancy Curto, Hena Awan, Summaia Raouf, Hibah Rehman, Munam Majeed, Muneera Chowdhury, Dana Hassoun, Fahd Umer, Meena Aziz, Owais Siddiqui, Intkhab Ali, Rami Yamin, Nosra Reguig, and Habiba Imam.

The Salam Network is one of our firm’s 35 People Networks (known more generally as Employee Resource Groups). It connects the Muslim community internally within KPMG, as well as externally to our clients and the community. “This was the year our network became truly national,” says Asma Hasan, one of the network’s co-leaders and a partner in KPMG’s Tax practice, “with Salam Network chapters being setup in all the major regions across Canada, and this award is meant as a symbol of recognition for everyone in our network. Every one of our more than 450 members across the country is passionate about raising awareness and understanding of the Muslim faith through collaboration and educational events, such as fasting during Ramadan, which teaches one perseverance, endurance, patience, as well as empathy and compassion towards those less fortunate.”

More than 100 non-Muslim allies have participated to date in the network’s annual Ramadan Fast Challenge, a number that grows every year.

Greenest Champion: Congratulations to the Calgary Green Champions Network for their tremendous work in raising awareness for environmental initiatives and sustainable practices among our people and communities. This employee-led team includes Shivank Gupta, Bevin Sears, Janel Tiernan, Zitin Munshi and Carrie Zhang. Newly founded one year ago, the group is all about translating concepts into action. They’ve organized information sessions about how our food choices impact the world around us, including how far our food travels and living a vegan life. They also participated in the City of Calgary’s pathways and river cleanups, and joined the firm’s national involvement in both the Ocean Wise Shoreline Cleanup and Project Forest, which helps rewild the Canadian landscape with tree and shrub planting on First Nations land in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan. “Our goal has been to engage coworkers on environmental topics and connect with our community,” the team’s organizers agreed. “And that means not just raising awareness but also getting out there and making an impact, taking action.”

Most Volunteer Hours: Congratulations to Vikram Deswal from KPMG’s Information Technology Services team, who volunteered more than 500 hours throughout our 2023 fiscal year supporting youth cricket players in Toronto. “I’ve had a passion for cricket since I was a young boy,” says Vikram, “a passion I now share with my own children.” Vikram spends his weekends supporting players and their teams across age ranges, helping to manage team and league schedules, off-field functions and performance analytics. “Cricket is popular all over the world,” he says, “and is excellent for both physical and mental fitness. This work allows me to contribute not only to the growth and wellbeing of our youth but also the socialization of newcomers to Canada, many of whom have also played cricket for years.”

Change comes with each step
When I wrote about KPMG’s 2022 Impact Report earlier this year, I compared social impact work to gardening, partly because tending to my small Toronto garden is a personal passion and also because I believe the metaphor fits. Like gardening, even the smallest actions can have profound and rippling effects. It helps bring beauty to my home and community and—fingers crossed—inspires others to do the same. The same goes for the many changemakers across KPMG's Canadian network who are tending to their own "gardens," which, at any scale, are all nurturing change for the better in their own way.

With that, I want to leave with a heartfelt congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s KPMG Impact Awards. I can’t wait to see the difference our people will make in years to come.

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