Ex Deputy Chair and Board member at KPMG on career advise, leadership, inclusion & diversity and the future of work – Melanie Richards, CBE

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My guest in this episode is a wonderful lady – a friend and inspiring mentor. 

Melanie Richards.

Melanie has almost 40 years’ corporate finance and capital markets experience.

With large-scale general management, board and advisory experience, Melanie is based in the UK and was until September 2020 the Deputy Chair of KPMG UK and a Board member. Melanie was heavily involved in its continuing transformation in areas such as risk, culture, diversity and inclusion, reputation and ESG. She ensured the voice of the firm’s key stakeholders was reflected at board level and worked with KPMG’s highest-profile clients and key stakeholders.

She is a Non-executive Director of Morgan Stanley International, a member of the board of the Royal National Theatre and Chair of The Eve Appeal (which funds research and raises awareness of gynae cancers). She sits on the advisory boards for both the Centre on AI Technology for Humankind at the National University of Singapore Business School and the UK Government’s National Leadership Centre (supporting cross sector leadership and collaboration). She also joined the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board in June 2014.

In 2016 Melanie received an Honorary Doctorate, Business Administration from Oxford Brookes University. 

She was awarded a CBE for her contribution to business and to the diversity and inclusion agenda in 2019. 

In September 2017 she was named #1 in the Financial Times’ Female Champions of Women in Business list. 

She is a founding member of the 30% Club Steering Committee (a campaign group of business chairpersons and CEOs taking action to increase gender diversity on boards and senior management teams), sat on the Steering Group of the Hampton Alexander Review (an independent review in the UK, to ensure that talented women at the top of business are recognised, promoted, and rewarded). 

And she won the Outstanding Contribution to Social Mobility Award in 2018.

In this episode, we cover various topics ranging from career advice, leadership, inclusion & diversity, the future of work and more.



  1. No one can do it all alone through their career without any help or support
  2. Engaging with people from a philosophy of helping and giving, asking ourselves “how can I serve” without expecting anything in return, is not only the basis of good leadership, but also makes everything much more enjoyable
  3. Even when you falter, as a leader or human being, to know where your North Star is helps – no one is perfect, but if we know what we are aiming to be and how we want to show up in the world, authentically, it makes a whole difference
  4. Learning to get perspective and reflecting on any setbacks in as an objective way as possible enables to see things in a much bigger picture – seeing mistakes as a moment in time and building from them rather than seeing them as an end, using them as a stepping stone to move forward rather than look backwards – learn from the past, but focus on the future
  5. Doing a good job and delivering in your current role is the foundation to open up future opportunities – opportunities that could be very hard to predict / plot looking forward
  6. Curiosity today is more than ever critical – you never reach a destination in life, it is all about continuous learning. Including learning in a practical sense
  7. There is a subtle difference between risk taking and being willing to try new things out of curiosity and desire to grow
  8. Don’t overthink your decisions: be thoughtful but try new things, we only get one life!
  9. Sometimes we speak about “lack of confidence” for women when it comes to making decisions or certain behaviours when in fact it is more about a different way women’s minds process information and think – it is not “better” but “different”
  10. Sometimes there is a stereotype of “leadership model” that doesn’t leave space for other types of personalities – this is about how can the diversity of talents get better included and remembering that not everybody expresses themselves in the same way
  11. Nurturing a pipeline of diverse talents and fostering inclusion starts with being intentional including with the help of data to gain insights about the dynamic within an organisation, such as the career progression of certain groups or hiring processes (assessing skills and capabilities versus likability whereby there might be a tendency to gravitate towards people who look and feel like us or like the stereotype of an organisation)
  12. There are diverse ways and practical steps, depending on one’s personality type, to bring oneself forward to the attention of people making decisions, even for a more introverted or reflective person, in a way that one feels comfortable with
  13. Two critical skills for leaders and CEOs:
    • 1) The capacity to listen, being very intentional about it, which is hugely empowering – this is when you give people around you the space to come up with ideas and have a voice
    • 2) Being authentic, as in honest about your own purpose and what you expect of people so there is a strong sense of shared objectives
  14. Making intentional career choices is about “work-life fit’ through the different seasons of your life so you do not think about work versus life but work and life fitting together as a whole
  15. 2 pieces of advice to live and work more intentionally: 1) calibrate not catastrophize – i.e. do not extrapolate to the very worst scenario 2) a quote by Maya Angelou: “when you get give, when you learn teach”


If you are ready to create a more intentional and regret-free life and career that unlocks your unique potential and lights you up, start here!

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