Alumni Spotlight - Kevin Goh Wei Ming
Kevin Goh Wei Ming
- Since you left KPMG in 2014, what have you been up to professionally? (Can you briefly describe your current role and responsibilities?)
I was appointed Financial Controller of Econ Healthcare Group, a local private nursing home service provider which also owns a small private hospital. My initial role within the company was initially focused on the improvement of internal financial reporting processes and M&A feasibility studies and financial projections. Soon, I became involved with operational matters as well.
After 3 years with Econ, I joined Lucence Diagnostics Group (“Lucence”), a local start-up that specialises in genomics medicine and the invention of cancer diagnostics services, as CFO in 2017. Now, my primary role is to assist the CEO in fund raising matters. Naturally, I also play an active role in other areas such as human resources and certain operational matters as it is extremely common for employees in start-ups to wear multiple hats.
Coincidentally, KPMG are the auditors of both Econ and Lucence so my relationship with the firm has not ceased despite my departure from the firm. In fact, I just had an audit and tax planning meeting with KPMG, led by Mr. Steven Goh!
- When and why did you start playing chess?
Chess is known as the game of kings. I have never ceased to be amazed by the beauty and endless possibilities of the game.
I learnt the game of chess while I was schooling at Boon Lay Primary School. It was a neighborhood school through and through. For instance, it was very common to see gang fights outside the school compound on a normal school day.
Then, we had an extremely passionate teacher, Mr. Khoo Geak Chong, who started a chess club. Chess quickly became the number 1 sport in the school. We won many team and individual championships across various age groups and pride ourselves on the fact that we could compete against the better known schools. Thanks to the harmonious team spirit and culture that was cultivated over many years, my teammates and I became very close friends. To this day, we still meet up or chat about chess-related stuff in a whatsapp group regularly.
I also remember waking up in the middle of the night when I was still in primary school and sneaking down to the dining table to try and solve a position that I could not do earlier in the day. My mom was shocked when she caught me but thankfully, she did not give me a hard time. That was how obsessed I was (am still) with chess.
- How has working in KPMG helped you to pursue your passion in chess? (share about how you began as a PEAK athlete)
I was really fortunate to join KPMG around the time when there was a growing emphasis on building a sporting culture within the firm. I remember that I was seeking permission from my unit's people manager to take a combination of unpaid and annual leave in order to represent Singapore in an official event. My request was very quickly escalated and in a matter of weeks, the Program for Elite Athletes in KPMG, or PEAK, was implemented.
Bowling star Jasmine Yeong-Nathan and I were the first athletes to be enrolled under PEAK. Leong Kok Keong was the PIC of PEAK at the time and he made sure that we had sufficient opportunities to train and compete without jeopardizing our career progression.
There were also many other activities apart from PEAK that emphasised the importance of sports. And it was no coincidence that KPMG begun its dominance at the annual CPA games around that period too. Yes, wrestling the throne away from PwC was so sweet and I was there when it happened.
- Athletes and auditors don’t seem to mesh. Can you share how you are able to juggle your work as a full time auditor and play chess competitively?
I do what I can to train whenever I have some spare hours. There were many occasions when I had asked my colleagues to pack lunch for me so that I can study chess during lunch hours. I also consider myself to be quite fortunate to have the understanding of colleagues and bosses who made sure my duties were well scoped such that any audit would not be majorly disrupted in my absence.
- What were your most memorable experiences at KPMG? Is there anything you miss?
I totally miss the tedious working hours and demanding clients when there is a deadline to be met.....I am kidding! In the end, it is always the people that matter in any organisation. I have had the fortune to work with some amazingly talented and colourful personalities when I was with the firm.
- What intrigues you most about playing chess? And what has competitive chess taught you about work and life? How has it inspired or transformed your life?
Chess taught me that with confidence, hard work and a relentless and unwavering focus, one can recover from devastating setbacks and accomplish anything. Chess is an extremely important part of my life and it is impossible to envision a life without some involvement of chess at all.
- Apart from chess, what other pursuits do you have?
Apart from competitive chess, I have written a chess book but it took so much energy out of me that I will probably never do this again. I am also an avid soccer fan and was in fact (non-voluntarily, 😂) appointed as captain of the KPMG soccer team when I was a general auditor. I still remember spending many weekends hassling players to show up for training matches!
- Please describe how you feel about KPMG today and what are some of the positive experiences you have gained in KPMG?
KPMG gave me a platform to grow in the accounting profession and to excel as an athlete. I honestly believe that I would never have accomplished what I did without the support from the firm. I will always be grateful for that.
- As the national chess champion and award-winning player, what do you hope to achieve next in competitive chess? How do you maintain your game?
Achieving the Grandmaster (GM) title is the holy grail of many chess players and that has been my goal for the last 10 years.
In order to become a GM, one has to achieve 3 performances equivalent to that of a GM or better known as 3 GM "norms" in official tournaments. One also has to achieve a FIDE rating of 2500 on the FIDE rating scale (a benchmark that measures one's skill level in chess). I have already achieved the necessary norms and need to gain some rating points in order to cross the 2500 mark.
Being a full-time working professional, I have to manage my time very carefully, which is why I have not taken a vacation in the last 10 years. In general, I try to spend a couple of hours to train during weekends and try to maximise my capacity on weekdays with small habits such as having extremely short lunches and using a number of apps to keep track of my task list for the day.
I also have to emphasise on how important physical fitness is to the modern chess player. It is a well known fact that a physically fit guy will be able to retain his focus far better during a 4 to 5 hour chess game as compared to someone who isn’t as fit. The days of having 2 overweight chain smokers contesting for the World Championship are long gone. I understand that I am not getting any younger as an athlete and I need to find an equaliser to contest against my increasingly younger opponents.
As such, I have heightened my emphasis on physical fitness. I actually took part in my first half marathon and full marathon this year, even if the timings were not great. I am also watching my diet a lot more closely and have tried intermittent fasting at least twice a week. I managed to go 20 hours without food the last time I tried, and my next target is the 24 hr mark.
In general, I think auditors, given the demanding nature of the industry, can do no wrong if they choose to revisit their lifestyle and make a couple of astute changes.
- How would your family and friends describe you?
I have absolutely no idea but I do hope it is something positive. Although I am pretty sure my sisters have accumulated a large number of disparaging and colourful insults about me after all these years…ha!
If you are interested to reach out to Kevin, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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