What Knowledge Managers Actually Do: A Day in the Life of Oliver Rolfe

Oliver Rolfe, Head of Knowledge for KPMG in the UK


Oliver Rolfe is the Head of Knowledge for KPMG in the UK. He has been with the firm for nearly 17 years in a number of roles in the knowledge, technology and information risk area. After heading up the firm’s Information Protection area for the past three years, he has returned to knowledge management in May this year to lead the team and programme for the UK firm.

06:40 : I live outside of London with my family in Marlow so it’s an early start to join the commuter traffic as I head to Canary Wharf in London. I say a quick hello and goodbye to my early bird son who like clockwork is reliably sat watching Match of the Day repeats on his tablet.

07:15 : On the train and time to read an email news digest that is available to us in KPMG that pulls out key stories relevant to our firm, our wider profession, and the general headlines of the day. It is a fantastic piece of curated knowledge content that cuts through vast amount of data from a number of sources. I will also try and catch-up on various podcasts – the Infinite Monkey Cage being my favourite at the moment!

08:15 : In the office and straight into a call with KPMG’s Australian member firm. We speak on the topic of people finding and the new tools and processes that we are both implementing. It is vital for us that we enable the ability for our colleagues to find expertise and resources around the firm quickly and easily, so that we can bring the best insights and the right people to our clients. This is not an easy task when KPMG has over 12,000 people in the UK, and over 150,000 people around the world!

09:00 : Some time to catch-up on emails and connect with people in the office. We have many great remote working tools and our people are encouraged to work intelligently, which may include home working or working from other KPMG offices. However these informal, passing conversations when in the office are very valuable, so I always make sure I make the most of them.

09:30 : A weekly team meeting with my senior managers in the knowledge team. A time for us to join up and discuss the bigger strategic matters our overall programme is working on, plus share and work through any tactical challenges we are facing in projects. There is normally one hot topic that dominates – this week it is looking at our latest quarterly metrics dashboard and interpreting what it means, and how we need to react to what we are seeing.

10:30 : Move straight on to the next meeting between myself, our Intranet lead, and the firm’s Head of Learning design. Our knowledge management team is organisationally placed within our Learning team. We consider that a large part of learning comes outside of formalised teaching and e-learning and is obtained through on-the-job learning. This is enabled by many knowledge management objectives, for example sharing internal and external insights, and connecting and collaborating with others. In this meeting we discuss the work we are doing to bring together learning and knowledge systems and repositories, so that an end user receives learning content, regardless of whether it is piece of e-learning, a user generated video, or some external content.

11:45 : I head back to my desk and gatecrash a meeting between our onshore collaboration team and our offshore collaboration team based out in India. In total we have about 70 people in our offshore operations helping to deliver intranet, collaboration and research to our colleagues in the UK firm and they are an integral and highly important part of our team. As I’m still relatively new to my role, I am trying to meet as many people as I can, so I appreciate the chance to say a quick hello and share what my current thinking is on the programme.

12:00 : Time to grab some lunch. At this point I like to take the chance to catch-up on both our internal news hosted on our Intranet, and also the external news where we have content subscriptions. Our team works with many different vendors to ensure that we offer to the firm the best sources of external content covering areas such as news, sector insights, economics, and company information. Too much to read and not enough time, and get easily distracted by a flurry of emails and questions from people as they pass by.

13:00 : A meeting with our collaboration lead and an external vendor to discuss the rollout of our new video platform. Recently launched, we are finding good success and high levels of engagement with video content. Certain types of content, such as messaging from our leadership, is just so much better created and consumed through video. We discuss plans on how to further expand this through user generated content.

14:00 : I deliberately set some free time aside to catch-up on deliverables I am working on. It’s that time of year where we are planning and budgeting, so a big effort is underway to meet deadlines. I enjoy piecing together what is a very large and complicated jigsaw where we have some large ambitious changes coming into the firm. I spend this time pulling together how we should approach our complex collaboration environment – both from a systems perspective and also on the plans we have to drive forward our communities programme.

15:30 : Time for a meeting now with our new Head of Pursuits. How we support every part of our business is at the forefront of our minds every day, and we see big opportunity for us to build out our competitive intelligence programme to support our market develop and sales. We discuss various ways and interaction points where we can come closer together and build this out.

16:30 : A quick run up the stairs to join the end of our induction day for new joiners. Every week leaders from around the organisation are invited to speak at these days to share their career stories and their perspectives. They are relaxed and good fun sessions that allow those presenting to help people get up to speed, and they are also a great for taking questions and starting to connect with the new and future leaders in the organisation.

17:00 : No more meetings for the rest of the day. I open up our social collaboration system and write a short weekly journal to share with my team – just a number of short bullet points on what I have been up to, key people I’ve spoken to, and things I have learnt. It is impossible to speak with such a large and geographically spread team as much as I would like, so this is a great way to engage with everyone who can comment back and spark ideas and connections. Tackle some more emails, move our planning documentation forward a little more, and by then hopefully the London tubes and trains should be a little quieter now. I leave the office, plug in my headphones and look forward to finishing off that podcast on my journey home.


K & IM Refer 34(2), Autumn 2018


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