Adrian Lee

Adrian shares his stories about his career so far, and passes on advice that he would like to give to you!
gradmalaysia-KPMG-LFL-Adrian Lee-01-2021
Adrian Lee
Chief Operating Officer, Chief Information Officer & Deputy Head of Advisory


KPMG in Malaysia


Chief Operating Officer, Chief Information Officer & Deputy Head of Advisory


BSc (Econ) Accounting and Finance, The London School of Economics and Political Science, 1994

Professional association memberships

  • Member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)
  • Fellow at The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

Has been with the company for

23 years (as of October 2021)

What does motivation mean to you? How do you keep yourself motivated in challenging times?

Motivation to me is about having a purpose. At KPMG, we have a shared purpose that is to “Inspire Confidence & Empower Change”. This pandemic has been challenging for many organisations in Malaysia and has definitely changed the way we work. In my role within the firm, I am empowered to find new solutions to the many challenges faced by our clients and ourselves, and this fuels my motivation.

Name three (3) ways a student or fresh grad can invest in themselves.

  1. Stay curious – With knowledge being just a Google search away, take this opportunity to learn and gain new skills. Always look to expand your horizons and perspectives.
  2. Agility – Take on challenges outside of your comfort zone and be adaptable to any situation.  
  3. Learn from your mistakes – Take every mistake as a lesson in disguise and never be afraid to make them; only fear not learning from them.

What are the qualities that separate leaders from managers?

Leaders are able to share their vision that inspires their team to work towards a common goal, whilst a manager leads with authority to coordinate a team towards the goal. 

Leaders are about empowering and motivating the people around them, whilst managers are task-oriented. As they say, leaders inspire you to do the right things, while managers teach you to do things right.

If you could turn back time, how would you improve yourself – personally or professionally?

Working from home has allowed me the time to incorporate exercise into my daily schedule. Doing so made me realise that having a healthy lifestyle energises me for the rest of the day. Hence, if I could turn back time, I would have started exercising earlier. 

In terms of professional endeavours, I wouldn’t change anything. It is not because I haven’t made any mistakes but that I believe that mistakes are part of life. Learning from them has allowed me to grow into what I am today.

What is the one habit that has continued to help you grow as a person?

As a leader, I find that constantly challenging the status quo has brought me to great lengths in my professional journey. I was never one to resort to norms as I would always question them and instead find unique strategies for my solutions. 

By questioning the way we used to do things and looking into how it came to be a custom practice may give us insight on how to improve certain situations. 

As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Hence, I believe that getting into the habit of challenging the status quo may be the best way to transform and improve – plus it helps me to think more creatively!

Name one surprising or interesting fact about yourself.

Since working from home during the pandemic, I started rearing quails as pets!  As I conduct my online calls, the birds roam free-range in the garden behind me. 

Rearing quails was definitely a new experience for me. I had several challenges raising the first batch as the cats around my housing area also took an interest in the quails.

Furthermore, I have also started a mini mealworm farm as a food source for the quails. Having quails is quite therapeutic and as a bonus, they also provide me with a steady source of eggs every day.