My journey at KPMG started as a campus recruiter, a role I absolutely loved, the days full of conversation with enthusiastic students ready to launch their careers and eager to learn about what KPMG in Canada has to offer. Now, more than 11 years later, through many different roles and life changes of my own, one of the things I love most is watching the careers of the students I helped hire grow and take shape. Many of them are now in leadership roles of their own, some working in completely different industries. But what's most exciting is that a growing number of them have "boomeranged" back to their blue roots. Back to KPMG.
Angela Tao—colleague, mentee, friend—is one of them.
I can proudly say I was part of the recruiting team that brought Angela on board as a campus hire back in 2012. After spending the next four years in the Audit practice, culminating in completion of her CPA designation, Angela decided to take a one-year secondment to our Toronto campus recruitment team. She would eventually move permanently onto our Human Resources team as the GTA campus manager. During that time, I was also growing my career and became a Senior Manager for KPMG's nationwide campus recruitment team.
Flash forward to today and Angela, having come back to KPMG, is now in that Senior Manager role I once held, one for which she expressly returned to us. We recently met for a coffee and were reflecting on her reasons for coming back after time away working in the public sector. Out of curiosity, in part because of my current role spearheading our employee experience strategy, I was curious to understand the reasons for her return.
She had a few things to say, but what stood out most to me was when she referred to the "intangible moments of connection" that create the employee experience. What are those, I asked? "They're hard to define," she admitted, "but you know them when you feel them. It's the feeling of being supported, included and knowing you have a team to rely on and fall back on. It's the leader who gets to know you first as a person, second as an employee. One good interaction elevates the next one."
I couldn't agree more. Moments of connection like these have truly created what I like to think of as the "Circle of KPMG," in which people may come and they may go, but they're never entirely gone—and the door is always open to them. That's at the heart of our culture. We keep in touch with our people, even after they move on in new directions for new opportunities, including with a concerted Alumni program. A key example: our CEO Elio Luongo sends an email when employees leave as a congratulations on their next step, showing support for them and their career decisions while also encouraging them to stay connected and welcoming them back should timing and circumstances align. I love this, and it's because people are the fact, the memory, the enduring spirit of those intangible moments Angela talked about. For me, they are what make the intangible tangible.
In my relationship with Angela, those moments along the way were everything. A friendly face and conversation on campus. A supportive dialogue to pursue a secondment. An open-minded ear when deciding whether to pursue a role elsewhere. And now, on our Microsoft Teams messages in which she's offering praise and advice to others and I get to see her in action as a leader in her own right.
Indeed, it's moments like those that have built the strongest relationships of my career. And what they and the people behind them have taught me is never to discount the smallest moments of connection, as they could be the first ripples of new opportunity—and, fate willing, the first step around the circle back to home.