Mary O’Connor and Bina Mehta lead KPMG in the UK

14 February 2021 3 min. read
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For the first time in its 150-year history in the United Kingdom, KPMG has installed two women at the company’s helm following the resignation of former chairman and senior partner Bill Michael.

Last week, KPMG company veteran Bill Michael fell from his throne after a number of his comments to the firm’s 1,500-strong financial services consulting team leaked out. His comments included telling staff to “stop moaning” about long working hours during the pandemic and rubbishing the notion of unconscious bias within the firm’s performance management system as “complete crap”.

While he was quick to apologise for the matter, it came too little too late, and on Wednesday morning KPMG asked him to step aside. Two days on, Michael announced his resignation.

Mary OConner and Bina Mehta - KPMG

KPMG been quick to fill the void, appointing a duo of female partners to run the firm on a temporary basis. Mary O’Connor, who is head of clients and markets will take over Michael’s responsibilities as senior partner, while Bina Mehta, a UK board member, will assume the role of chairman.

The move marks a special milestone for KPMG. Since founding in 1870 in the UK, the Big Four accounting and consulting giant has never been led by a woman. With many company members shocked, disappointed or upset by last week’s events, O’Connor and Mehta will initially focus on bringing KPMG and its 19,000-strong workforce in the country back into calm waters.

According to reports from the Financial Times, KPMG insiders believe that it is not likely that Michael, who has run KPMG UK since 2017 as chairman and senior partner, would return as chairman. The newspaper suggests that the next chairman will “most likely be female”, with Mary O’Connor, Michelle Hinchcliffe (Chair of Audit) and Lisa Heneghan (Chief Digital Officer) tipped as the candidates with the best papers.

Meanwhile, a formal ethical investigation into Michael’s comments is being conducted by magic circle law firm Linklaters.

About Mary O’Connor

Mary O’Connor is Head of Clients and Markets for the UK firm. She leads the non-audit business which includes Tax, Pensions and Legal Services, Deal Advisory and Consulting, across Financial Services, Corporates and National Markets. She serves on the KPMG Board, Executive Board and Executive Leadership Team. She has been with KPMG since 2018, when she joined from Willis Towers Watson.

A dual-qualified US and UK lawyer, O’Connor has been named one of Intelligent Insurer’s ‘100 Influential Women in Re/Insurance’ in 2016 and 2017 and a Business Insurance 2017 EMEA ‘Woman to Watch’.

About Bina Mehta

Bina Mehta has more than 20 years of international merger & acquisition and restructuring experience in the UK, USA and Canada acting for private equity houses, lenders and corporates. Mehta is a Client Lead Partner, working with clients in the business services sector, large private and listed international clients, and manages some of KPMG’s key strategic relationships.

She has worked for KPMG in the UK, US (seconded to develop the Corporate Finance business with a focus on technology transactions), Canada (seconded to lead the Canadian Working Capital practice), and India (to support the establishment of KPMG India). Mehta is Chair of KPMG’s Emerging Giants Centre of Excellence in the UK.