Jan. 20, 2022Print | PDF
Successful in her career, Tammy Brown (BA Econ ’93) is also a committed social impact leader and agent of change for underserved communities. Her leadership in her profession and in the community led to Brown being recognized by the Women’s Executive Network, which named her to its 2021 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the Professionals category.
She was also recently recognized as a 2021 Fellow of CPA Ontario, the highest distinction bestowed in the accounting profession, for dedicated performance to the accounting profession and impactful volunteer contribution.
Since graduating with an Honours BA in Economics & Accounting from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Brown has applied her skills and business acumen at KPMG as an audit partner for 17 years. She is currently the National Industry Leader for Industrial Markets and serves as Deputy Chair of its Board of Directors.
Brown's path to Laurier began during her time in high school. She always had a goal to do something in business but wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do. Her father and a few of her teachers advised her that becoming a chartered accountant was the best way to figure it out.
Next came deciding on where to study. Originally from the Parry Sound, Ontario area, Brown said that the thought of going to university in a large city wasn't something that interested her.
"I grew up just outside of Parry Sound and the whole town's population is 6,000. When I chose Laurier, the student body population was around 5,000 and that was a big factor for me. One of my high school teachers had gone to Laurier and was also a big proponent," Brown said.
Advocating for Indigenous people
In addition to her leadership roles at KPMG, Brown is the partner sponsor for its National Indigenous Peoples Network. Brown is of mixed ancestry, her father of English and Irish descent and her mother Ojibway. As a member of the Shawanaga First Nation, Brown said promoting Indigenous people and culture has also been important to her.
"I've always been part of the Indigenous networks we've had at KPMG since I started. We put the current National Indigenous Peoples Network together in 2019 and we now have over 200 members across Canada," Brown said.
The network is open to any KPMG employee with Indigenous or non-Indigenous backgrounds. In 2021, Brown and the other leaders of the KPMG Indigenous Peoples Network also received a KPMG Impact Award for their work in advancing inclusion at the firm and in the community. Brown and the network are currently working with an Indigenous-led and owned consulting group to help KPMG map out its Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan that will be put into action over the next four years.
"That's a huge project and I'm really happy that we've got the full support of our CEO and Management Committee. We were able to have KPMG close our offices across Canada on September 30 for the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day. It wasn't a vacation day, we closed our offices in order to encourage and facilitate time for our people to learn, reflect and think about what actions they could take towards reconciliation. It was really impactful,” she said.
Brown said that the time was right for the National Indigenous Peoples Network to make a larger impact inside KPMG, something that might not have been possible five or 10 years ago. She credited the success to the grassroots support across KPMG's offices.
"The timing was right to get everybody going in the same direction to move something bigger forward. The key is to not be overly patient, but to find a pace that fits the organization so that when you want to push things forward, you get the support and people are ready for it,” said Brown.
Connecting with the Lazaridis School
Brown has kept in contact with Wilfrid Laurier University and the Lazaridis School over the years by interviewing students and graduates for positions at KPMG.
Brown said that in addition to the strong co-op work placements, the Lazaridis School's focus on casework in their studies helps produce career-ready graduates. "Laurier is known for casework that students do and learning by working together. They can learn technical parts of their role, but it's group work that teaches them how to communicate and work together for better outcomes." Brown said.
"It's a smaller school with a great culture. It's known for the group work and teamwork that prepares people for their future careers."
With an impressive resume such as Brown's, you may wonder what's next. Brown said that each milestone is an opportunity to review the next one. Brown is looking to continue her impact at the Board of Directors at KPMG where she is currently Deputy Chair.
"I feel like things are going well and I'm doing all of these different things. But now, I also have a real responsibility to use all these positions that I have to do the things that I want to do, like the National Indigenous Peoples Network. Because of the roles that I have, I get to influence and I get to push the agenda forward," Brown said.
Her leadership in her profession and in the community also led to Brown being recognized by the Women’s Executive Network, which named her to its 2021 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the Professionals category.
Being an individual who can make an impact at an organization is impressive. To make an impact across Canada is another level that Brown takes to heart. In addition to her work at KPMG, Brown is on the Women's College Hospital board in Toronto, where she started an anti-Black racism taskforce.
"We're really pushing things forward from a board perspective on inclusion, diversity, and equity. Everything we do for Women’s College is shared to advance health equity in the greater health system to foster the sharing of innovative ideas and best practices in advancing anti-racism practices across the sector,” said Brown.