My biggest mistake: Chris Morgan, KPMG

14 January 2015 -


Head of tax policy at leading auditor tells us about how a dicey breakdown of communication made him change his day-to-day working method

At a law firm where I worked early in my career, I was responsible for filing an application for a company to register itself in South America. A senior partner at the firm left a notification on my desk containing an instruction to file the document by a certain deadline. However, I didn’t see the document – and only came across it later when I was going through the papers on my untidy desk.

I saw that the date had passed, and realised not only that the company could be struck off, but that the directors could potentially face criminal charges.

I felt terrible.

The first thing I did was to find the senior partner who had originally left the note and told him we had missed the deadline. Their reaction was supportive – his attitude was focused on what we could do to resolve the situation rather than castigating me.

We contacted the foreign lawyer who we had been working with, who informed us that he had had the same notification and had filed the document: relief flowed through my body.

I have now got five in trays on my desk. It is a system I developed after the incident. I have an in tray that I keep clear. If something is in there then I know I haven’t seen it. If it is urgent I deal with it immediately rather than putting it off to another time. We also have a policy that everyone makes mistakes – it is better that people admit to these things than letting them fester because people are afraid to come forward.

Chris Morgan is a partner and head of tax policy, international tax and treasury, at consultancy KPMG

Bearing in mind the stress that arose from Chris’s situation, you may be feeling a bit tense yourself. For hints on combating that, sign up to this forthcoming CMI seminar.

For a previous management mistake, click here.

Powered by Professional Manager