Serving on charitable boards has given Andrew Weir a fresh perspective on business and on life.
Having lived and worked in Hong Kong for many years, Andrew Weir, Regional Senior Partner and Vice Chairman of KPMG China, is very aware of the firm's position in its community.
“We don't exist in a vacuum. What's good for business should also be good for citizens and our wider environment. I feel a part of this unique place and it seems natural to want to contribute in a small way.”
This kind of thinking is consistent with KPMG's values and is why Andrew has taken a role as Chairman of the Board with Plan International, a global charity devoted to raising the quality of life for children. He feels his professional experience serves him well.
“In today's transparent world, with 24-hour news and viral social media, governance has become the biggest challenge facing the charitable sector. Every day at KPMG we deal with governance issues for our clients, and such skill sets are similarly valuable to help NGOs manage themselves more effectively. A charity won't get very far without trust, which is very hard to gain but very easy to lose. Once lost, trust is awfully difficult to win back, so we need to make sure, more than ever, that all bases are covered to avoid any negative events.”
Donors are also increasingly demanding and want to see an impact from their funding, as Andrew explains. “There is a lot of competition for donations, so we need to articulate the value we deliver. One of our key global initiatives in recent years is Because I am a Girl, with a bold aim to empower 100 million girls worldwide to transform their lives through education. It really resonated with supporters and partners, managing to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, change laws in numerous countries and, most importantly, support millions of girls to get an education.”
Andrew's contribution to Plan International has been recognized with the award of 'Director of the Year 2016' from The Hong Kong Institute of Directors.
He is also a trustee for Outward Bound Hong Kong, a non-profit that sends young people on challenging outdoor courses that help them discover and develop their potential. And, as a board member for the charity Community Business, he plays a part in advancing responsible and inclusive business practices in Asia, harnessing the power of business to drive social change.
For someone in a senior position like Andrew, volunteering is obviously quite a commitment, but one that he's happy to make. “I get a genuine sense of fulfilment from knowing that I'm having some kind of impact on the lives of those who face hardships or barriers to advancement. This is what drives me on when I've had a long, busy day with KPMG and am faced with an evening of reading reports ahead of a board meeting. You must be responsible; you can't treat work on charitable boards any other way.”
Andrew may be employing valuable professional skills and expertise to help the charities he works with, but he also sees a huge return for him - and for KPMG.
“When you see firsthand the challenges NGOs face, and, more importantly, the amazing things they can and do achieve, it makes all the effort worthwhile. Every time I step back into my professional role - and, indeed my personal life - I feel I have learned fresh perspectives. Seeing things through a different lens has broadened my mind for the better, both professionally and personally. I would recommend it to anyone.”