Accountancy and financial management
Graduate audit associate at KPMG

How I got hired as an audit associate at KPMG

Rebecca Desert is an audit associate with KPMG studying for ACA qualification. She graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in law with business studies. We asked her what working life is like, and how she got hired.
You have to be able to meet people, quickly build a rapport and get the information you need.

Why accountancy?

During my degree I enjoyed studying a number of commercial subjects (such as company law and financial reporting), which introduced me to the corporate environment. I chose to go into audit because I felt it would give me the opportunity to work with a variety of companies across a wide range of industries.

Did you do any internships during your degree?

I completed a number of legal placements, which helped me demonstrate my ability to work in a corporate environment and prioritise tasks during the application process.

What do you think made you stand out from the other candidates?

My work experience. Throughout university I worked as a team leader in corporate hospitality at a cricket ground, which helped me acquire and develop essential business skills, including leading and working in a team, customer service and having a professional approach.

What was the toughest part of the application process?

The assessment centre was challenging, as the tasks are quite time pressured and each requires a different skill set to complete it. But it was helpful as it was an accurate reflection of what a day working in my role at KPMG would be like.

What is your role in the audit team?

Sometimes I will be working independently on my own sections of an audit, or I may be leading a smaller team on the audit of a subsidiary or small company. My job involves attending meetings with clients, taking part in discussions with senior members of the KPMG team and presenting my work for review.

What is your work/life balance like?

Like any job there are busy and quiet times, and I may have to work longer hours occasionally. However, in audit you work as part of a team, so if you are working late, everyone else is usually doing the same – you’re in it together. It’s important to take ownership of your schedule and communicate with the rest of your team.

What are the most exciting parts of your job?

Working with varied teams throughout the year and having a wide portfolio of clients allows me to get to know people across my function and outside of my department. In addition, I get to meet a lot of people who work at my client firms across functions and roles, which gives me exposure to all areas of the business, improving my knowledge and understanding. I have been able to travel to some amazing places with my job, including Boston, New York and LA, which was something I always wanted to do. I’ve had some great experiences, including going to the NBA Playoffs!

What are the downsides?

Audit requires you to travel around the UK, which I love, but I never realised how often trains are delayed and how many traffic jams there are! Is there anything you wish you’d focused on more at university to prepare you? I wish I had utilised my careers service to a greater extent. There are some brilliant opportunities to work with visiting companies and develop your soft skills, such as presentation skills.

Name the top three skills for a successful career in accountancy/financial management.

  • People skills – you have to be able to meet people, quickly build a rapport and get the information you need.
  • Resilience – you will be faced with numerous challenges, both client-related or to do with balancing revision and your day job
  • Ability to have fun – there are some great opportunities to take advantage of outside of the working day, including sports teams, charitable work and work socials.