Are you considering a career move in 2021? With a long list of dynamic and ambitious clients across Ireland, KPMG is looking for more excellent people to join the firm. We caught up with KPMG in Ireland Head of Resourcing Paul Vance to get his views on opportunities for those seeking a career move in 2021.
The conventional view of a global professional services firm like KPMG is rooted in the audit, tax and deal advisory services. While excellence in these areas is fundamental, the reality is that the service offering spans the full spectrum of client solutions and ranges from artificial intelligence to workforce enablement taking in cybersecurity, virtual reality, fintech and big data analytics on the way.
“KPMG has evolved greatly over the years and continues to evolve,” notes Head of Resourcing Paul Vance. “The range and type of services we offer and the type of people we have working here have changed hugely. Whilst we continue to recruit people with financial and accounting expertise, we are also constantly on the lookout for people from technology backgrounds who can work across digitally based areas like cybersecurity, AI, data analytics, business modelling and so on. We look for specialists in those areas to work across our four core functions of audit, tax, deal advisory, and business consulting.”
Our people aren’t pigeonholed by their skillset or area of expertise. “To provide client solutions, very often we leverage the full spectrum of skills and talent across the firm,” Vance explains. “Of course, sometimes the client need means that just one skillset is required and in other cases we may need to deploy a very broad range of expertise. At one end of the spectrum, it could be a cybersecurity expert working with an audit team to test a client’s exposure to cyber risk and at the other it could be the design and implementation of an enterprise-wide digital transformation solution. These cross-functional multidisciplinary teams form and re-form according to client needs.”
COVID-19 and the rapid shift to home and remote working has brought the importance of these IT skills into even sharper focus, according to Vance. Clients’ IT systems are being put under enormous strain as they struggle to cope with unprecedented levels of traffic. Meanwhile systems which were perfectly adequate while confined to the organisation’s premises became suddenly vulnerable to cyberattack when distributed across hundreds or potentially thousands of employees’ homes.
“This is an area where a lot of companies were really challenged due to COVID-19,” he remarks. “It’s not just the obvious areas like financial services that are exposed. Retailers which pivoted to online sales have opened up vulnerabilities which didn’t exist before. A very good example was the cyberattack on Manchester United in November 2020. The attack left the club unable to fully restore its computer systems with staff unable to access to email for several days.”
Dealing with issues such as that are not part of the core business of a high street retailer or a Premier League football club. “That kind of expertise is not something companies have on the shelf. That’s where we come in. Our teams come in and do it for them. We will also look at their systems to identify gaps and areas of risk which need attention. The same applies to data analytics. Our people are working with clients to make better use of their data to support better decision making and more accurate future forecasts.”
While functional skills and expertise are important a wider skillset is highly valued. “We want people who are able to interact on a personal level with clients, who can understand their business very well, and whose technical expertise makes them highly credible in front of the client. We are looking for someone who will understand the problem, look into the future, and create the solution that meets the client’s needs. We source this talent from every sector, from multinationals, indigenous SME, universities and overseas.”
Graduate recruitment is particularly important. “The economy may slow and hasten but graduate recruitment is a constant for us,” Vance points out. “We have a very big graduate programme. 2020 was a very tough year for all concerned but we still took in 380 graduates to the programme in the autumn. We will have 400 in the 2021 intake. We provide an award-winning graduate training programme across all areas of the firm including audit, tax, deal advisory and consulting.”
The three-and-a-half-year programme covers everything required for a successful career in business. “After the initial training period, our graduates move on to gain other business and leadership skills and they will typically come through to management grades in the firm within five years. That doesn’t happen by accident. Our people are trained to work with teams and to lead them. The get experience of work with the senior leadership team at the same time as they are completing their professional exams and receiving other training. The programme is evolving all the time. It’s something we are constantly innovating.”
The KPMG culture is one where everyone strives for excellence. “We’re very proud of the fact that we attract the best people to come to work here. Everyone in KPMG is treated as a professional regardless of level and we all work together to develop the best solutions for our clients and each other. People appreciate working with really, really good colleagues and they raise their game as a result. Our aim is to do things better every year. But that’s not an instruction from above, that’s a shared mindset and a way of thinking that we bring to everything we do for our clients.”
Overseas recruitment forms another key element of the talent pipeline. “We search far and wide for the skillsets we need, and we bring in professionals from all over the world. Ireland is seen as a very positive place to live and work and to build a career. Our team here look after relocation, immigration, personal taxes, accommodation, settling in and all the other aspects of moving to a new country to live and work. We take the stress out of it and offer practical as well as financial support.”
COVID-19 and the switch to remote working has affected the nature of the workplace. “It’s affected us all,” Vance notes. “The technology has been great. We were lucky the pandemic happened in 2020 and not 2010. The technology is so much better now. It would have been more challenging to have the same quality of client interaction back then.”
The impacts will be felt for some time to come. “A lot of organisations have taken a decision to close until next summer,” he adds. “At KPMG our policy is to follow and be informed by government advice and guidelines. We hope to have people back in the office quite soon but only when it is safe. Graduates and other new hires benefit from personal interaction with colleagues and that is hard to replicate online. We will have a rotation system for people to spend at least some time in the office. That rotation between office and home will suit a lot of people as 100% home working is not for everyone. The shift to remote working has changed all of our perspectives forever. It will be very interesting to see what happens when we are COVID-free and it is a matter of choice rather than necessity.”
KPMG is always on the lookout for talented, ambitious people from diverse and varied backgrounds. To find out more about available opportunities, check out our careers site.