These are just some of the people who have supported the UK during this extraordinary year. And these are their stories.
The best thing about the masters has been meeting my peers from across the country.”
Zahra's one of 30 auditors who is working towards an MSc in Applied Data and Analytics with BPP University. "As a member of our Asset Management group, focusing on real estate, I wanted my main research project and core of my masters to have a real application." Zahra's working on ways to use technology to help auditors test investment property valuations.
In her project, Zahra's developing a model that will facilitate a scoping analysis, including creating an expected valuation. Zahra's using Python, predictive analytical models and public data to create her model. "It'll enable us to bring a more robust challenge of management estimates and give us greater audit insights."
The support we received from the first minute to the last was outstanding.”
Paul Bennett, NHS England
When NHS England asked for our help to set up a field hospital, our people rose to the challenge.
Oliver is one of 150 colleagues who supported NHS England to set up the temporary hospital, Nightingale London. "Until the Nightingales came along, the lead time for a new hospital was measured in years. In London, the first patient was admitted 14 days after we took over the ExCeL centre."
We reopened our offices in Canary Wharf to host the build programme, working alongside the NHS, the military and other contractors before moving on site. We directly supported 17 different workstreams, covering all areas of the build and operation of the hospital. Local hotels and retailers rallied round, providing those working on the project with pop-up stores, welfare packs and a place to sleep. It's piece of work Oliver won't forget in a hurry. "Never before had anyone designed delivery of critical care on this scale."
I'm very concerned about climate change and how we can reduce our impact, which is where the idea for a carbon tracker came from. It's helping to reduce our emissions and change the way we behave, too.”
How one idea turned into a tool that's saving us thousands.
Zoe and Stiliyana had an idea. "Pre-pandemic, a large proportion of our emissions came from business travel", says Zoe, "we created a carbon tracker to help reduce our impact." The model, which measures carbon emissions on flights, trains, cars and hotel stays, means teams can create a carbon budget for each project.
With Shaan, they tested it out with a chain of animal hospitals in Sweden. "The team of 10 was regularly flying to Stockholm", Shaan explains, "we worked with the client, set a 20% reduction target in carbon emissions and in February achieved a reduction of eight tonnes of CO2." Travel costs fell too – with those savings passed on to the client.
Zoe continues: "Travel may well have stopped in its tracks now, but when it restarts, we can use the tracker to compare the carbon – and the financial – cost of doing a project virtually or face-to-face." And that data is helping us have entirely new conversations with our clients.
I think the insights on our podcast are good for life, not just for lockdown.”
When the UK entered lockdown and our people went home, Samuel helped keep us connected, as a podcast host.
"I wanted to get involved because I liked the sense of supporting colleagues during lockdown". Spanning eight episodes and gathering over 10,000 listens, Samuel, alongside fellow podcast presenters Niluka and Katie, interviewed guests on subjects ranging from homeworking, mental health and wellbeing, to resilience and the Black Lives movement. Special guests included Alain de Botton, Alistair Campbell, Bonnie Greer, Sian Williams and even Mr Motivator shared some words of wisdom with us.
Samuel loved being part of the project. "It was a fantastic way to keep spirits high and maintain our organisation's culture."
Helping 17,000 people shift to working remotely was a challenge. Fortunately, that's what the Digital Ninjas are there for.
"Every team has a person who understands new tech first. And everyone's always asking that person for help!” When Nick came up with the idea for Digital Ninjas, the plan was to find those self-taught tech-savvy people from around the firm and bring them together. “I thought that if we could create a network of experts, we could really change the way we use tech, at an organisational level".
What started with six people is now nearly 200. And when lockdown arrived in March, the Digital Ninjas put their special skills into action. Their Microsoft Teams training sessions were in serious demand. "We trained around 3,000 people in three months", Nick says. "It was amazing!"
At the same time, ninja Ben was asked to lead an expansion of the programme to the US firm. "I really had to step up", Ben says, "and I was worried I'd fail. But passion is a powerful thing."
From now on, every graduate and apprentice will go through our brand new Ninja Bootcamp. "This is about building tech into the bones of our firm. It's incredibly exciting."
We've worked with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to help global food producers look at risk through a completely different lens.
Andries is helping the food industry rely on more than historical data to understand, and respond to, risk. “The food industry is critical: our health and wellbeing depend on it functioning as it should. The problem is, it typically looked at risks operating in isolation rather than them being components of a broader, interconnected system.”
Our Dynamic Risk Assessment tool changes that. Alongside the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we worked with nine food producers to identify clusters as well as the risk and opportunity destinies of ESG-related risks. Our assessment provides businesses a better understanding of how one risk – like food safety – connects to others to form a broader system. “When we take a step back and look at the whole risk picture, not just the component parts, it greatly assists a business in identifying long-term value.”
“Reading unlocks a new world for children.” Kat should know, she's a Reading Partner school champion in Edinburgh. As a volunteer, she ran virtual reading sessions with young children this year. Her work, and that of other volunteers, is making a huge difference to young children in a year when their schooling has been disrupted by the pandemic.
Kat gets as much out of the storytelling sessions as her students. “There's no better reward than watching children flourish and develop their own passion for literature.”
Error detection, prolonged concentration and real attention to detail. I really enjoy the work I do.”
We work with specialist consultancy auticon to build neurodiverse teams.
Alice is on the Clara analytics team, in Audit Technology. She is one of the technologists who joined our firm through auticon – an IT consultancy and social enterprise that creates rewarding careers for autistic people. “I was interested in KPMG and the prospect of being part of a large company but knew it would present challenges.” The team made some adjustments and Alice is thriving. “I work with a team of people who are kind, supportive, talented and dedicated to the work they do. They have allowed me to manage my workload and enjoy the work I do. I would recommend working in the Clara team to anyone.“
The firm has given me the time to do something that really matters to me. In return, I'm a better team player and communicator when I'm doing my desk job.”
Luke usually works in forensic technology. But when the pandemic hit, he took up another role, inside an ambulance.
Luke already volunteered for St John Ambulance, but took it to a new level. “Responding on the frontline during a global pandemic is not something I ever envisaged myself doing.” With the full support of his managers, KPMG released Luke for two days a week to undertake frontline 999 support shifts. He also volunteers at the weekend. “For me, the real highlight is I was able to help people when they needed it most.”
We're using technology to learn when people need specific knowledge and to deliver it in the right way.”
Working hand-in-hand with tech partners, we're helping the UK's civil servants become even more effective.
There are close to half a million civil servants in the UK. They advise our prime ministers, issue our passports, look after our pensions and guard our prisons. And since 2016, our firm's been designing and delivering their learning. This year, the Cabinet Office asked us to run the Civil Service Learning (CSL) programme for another four years, to 2024.
“It's a privilege and an immense responsibility”, says Mike Zealley, who leads our relationship with CSL. So far, we've delivered more than four million hours of learning. “Our Civil Service is world-renowned and vital to the success of the whole UK. We are committed to helping civil servants become even better, every day”.
The way we work is evolving, and the way we learn is changing too. For the Civil Service and beyond, the team is pioneering new approaches to communicating knowledge, information and ideas – all supported by our tech partner, Microsoft. “This isn't about getting people into classrooms anymore. We're using technology to learn when people most need specific knowledge, and to deliver it in the right way and at the right time.”
Why refreshing our Values during lockdown made a 150 years of sense.
Charlotte began her new role as Culture and Engagement Lead in the midst of lockdown. It coincided with a refresh of Our Values and our firm's 150th year.
“Values play an important part in guiding the decisions we make whether that's managing performance or deciding which clients to work with. At a time of intense change our people need to feel safe and able to speak up if there's a problem”, she says. You could say, it's at times like these that we need Our Values more than ever.
I'm really excited to see what year two will hold for me as an apprentice in Audit.”
Welcome to our first cohort of audit-only apprentices.
Chris thought he'd end up at KPMG anyway, so he may as well start at the firm, rather than going to university first. “I thought getting experience and a wage made a pretty convincing argument to join straight from school.” So why KPMG, and why did he pick Audit? “KPMG has a reputation for having a fantastic culture and good people – and after a year here, I can see why the firm's earned that reputation.”
That said, it's been a tough time for an apprentice to join. “I missed seeing my friends and it took time to adjust to working from home. I'm so grateful for the support of my team and my training providers.”
It's been a steep learning curve. “I've had to work hard to pass my exams. Now I've learned the basics, I feel like I'm laying the foundations of my career at KPMG. I can't wait to see what I achieve as I stretch myself and get stuck into next year.”
This work helped us set a new direction for local authorities. It's a chance to do things differently, and to do things better, for citizens.”
We worked with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to help them design a new operating model – one that's fit for the future.
When we work with clients, we have to think about their clients, too. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has 400,000 of them – and the council wanted to serve them even better. Ruth used our Connected Enterprise methodology to help the council figure out how. “We looked at their services, tech, processes, governance, data and people in turn, rethinking what 'good' looked like, and what needed to change to get there.”
After four months, Ruth and her team created a totally new operating model, focussed on digital transformation and modernising service access and delivery. Julian Osgathorpe, from BCP Council says: “There is no doubt in my mind that we could not have moved as far and as fast, with so much excitement and credibility, without KPMG's support.”
When I go back to speak to sixth formers, I say: If I can be here, then you can be here”
Vivian – 360 Apprentice
As a 360 apprentice, Vivian's learning on the job.
In 2015, Vivian joined the KPMG 360 Apprenticeship Programme, which allows school leavers rotate around different parts of the firm. “I thought, I'll be able to earn and work. And by the time I'm qualified, I'll have plenty of experience, too.”
Right now, she's working with the investor engagement team. “It's great – as I train to become an auditor, I get to understand how businesses work. In this team, I've a better understanding of what investors look for.”
Vivian enjoyed her apprenticeship so much, she's telling other people about it – using her spare time to speak to groups of sixth formers in schools.
Lockdown was tough for many people. With this video, we wanted to say: it's okay to have a bad day.”
Lockdown hit all of us hard. We teamed up with bp, Brunswick, Microsoft and ProFinda to create a video, reminding us all to check in with each other.
At first, staying at home was a novelty. But it soon lost its shine for many. “We all have mental health issues, on one level or another, even really senior people do”, says Riaz. “I felt we had to speak up about it.” Riaz got in touch with some of his contacts at bp to see if they wanted to do the same. The response couldn't have been more positive. “They were keen, and they were keen to involve others who share our values too. We moved quickly and created something incredibly personal.” The result? A video where people from four organisations talk about how they're Navigating Mental Health. “It's like an advert for checking in with people”, Riaz explains. “And, as an added bonus, we got to meet Alfie the dog.”
How do you turn a successful company into a great disruptor? We've been offering a helping hand to some exciting scale-up businesses.
Tim has developed a knack for spotting the businesses that could change our lives for the better. As part of the Emerging Giants team inside KPMG Private Enterprise, he works with scale-ups: businesses that are already growing fast and need help to hit the next level. “You just get a feeling when you meet someone with a great idea and the passion to make it happen”.
Last year, Tim got that feeling when he met Aleksandra Pedraszewska, the Co-founder of holographic display technology business VividQ. “We want to change how we all connect with the world”, Aleks says. “Holography will improve how we learn, how we drive, how we experience games and TV shows”. The VividQ team is building holographic displays into Augmented Reality smartglasses, next generation laptops, and vehicle dashboards. The team's mission is ambitious: to bring holography to every home, office, and city. Its technology was conceived in Cambridge and is already being put to work in East Asia and the United States.
This year, the business was named KPMG's Best British Tech Pioneer, beating dozens of other exciting scale-ups to the prize.
Tim's keeping up his search for exciting ideas, focusing on the digital high-street, AI and healthcare – businesses with the potential to change how we live and how we work.
It's been great to work with like-minded people, who are passionate about making a difference.”
Shaping strategy through technology and teamwork.
Ga Lok has been supporting the NSPCC for over a decade. On Sundays, he volunteers as a Childline counsellor. He's also raised over £5,000 for the charity by running the London Marathon. To add to this list, earlier this year, he took the opportunity to combine his passion for volunteering with his consulting skills, on a pro-bono strategy project.
The NSPCC needed our support to find a mechanism for gathering ideas across the organisation, to help shape its strategy, so Ga Lok led a team of KPMG experts to deliver a workshop responding to this ask. “We demonstrated how we use journey maps to show rich, multi-dimensional visualisations of the customer/employee experience. We covered creative problem-solving and frameworks to prioritise ideas, so the NSPCC can make maximum impact with its funds.”
Shaping strategy through the use of technology has been exciting for Ga Lok, but it's the teamwork he's enjoyed most. “It's been great to work with like-minded people, who are passionate about making a difference.”
Not quite the return I'd imagined!”
Lizzie's return to work after a 13-month break on maternity leave didn't lead to the return to the office that she'd expected. Our COVID-19 special leave policy meant people with caring responsibilities could take time off during the working day without any deductions in pay.
“Although my husband works flexibly and I've been able to get on with my ‘day job' most of the time, the special leave code has certainly helped me work flexibly. From a wellbeing point of view, having the policy has lessened the burden of juggling both work and home”.
On return from maternity leave, Lizzie has also taken advantage of our firm's 1:1 parental transition coaching, which has provided her with a confidential space to explore some of the challenges. On top of this, Lizzie joined virtual group coaching sessions with other parents returning to work. “It was a great opportunity to connect with colleagues in the same boat and allowed me to hear about how they were coping.”
It was obvious my sexuality wouldn't be an issue for anyone.”
Ian came out at university but when he joined KPMG's graduate scheme in 2015, he felt he needed to keep his sexuality to himself. “I was worried that my sexuality could hold me back,” says Ian.
“I think lots of people do the same thing in all sorts of workplaces.” But he wasn't worried for long. “I heard about our LGBT+ network Breathe and was soon meeting lots of open-minded people working in all corners of the firm. It was obvious my sexuality wouldn't be an issue for anyone,” says Ian.
Breathe is one of 14 employee networks at KPMG. Since joining, Ian is thriving professionally; he's currently part of the Global Strategy Group in Aerospace and Defence. “My key message is to be authentic and open at work,” says Ian. “Never hide who you are.”
I was able to find out exactly what I wanted to do.”
Kumi joined the Black Heritage Talent Insight programme in September 2019. She wanted to work in an accountancy firm but worried she didn't have the right experience.
The initiative invites final year students and graduates to take part in an assessment and, if successful, secure a place on one of our graduate programmes. Our insight programmes enable participants to see what KPMG is like before they join, meeting others from different parts of the firm.
“I loved meeting other people on the scheme,” says Kumi. “Hearing their stories and their pathways was really interesting because mine wasn't a traditional one.”
Kumi now works in transaction services in Deal Advisory. “I was able to find the perfect fit for me.”
People don't generally associate big firms with that kind of thing.”
Six years ago, Steve applied for job at KPMG. He had a seven-month-old son and his wife was nearing the end of her maternity leave. He asked if he could work a four-day week. “I was a bit surprised when they said yes,” says Steve. “People don't generally associate big firms with that kind of thing.”
Steve's clients - which include large banking groups and payment service providers - aren't fazed by his work arrangements. “A number of clients have said it's a real positive that KPMG offers it,” says Steve. “It puts more of an onus on organisation. I'm still running a team and they are clear what they are doing when I'm not there.” Now colleagues come to Steve for advice on adapting the way they work. “Relatively few men have moved to a flexible working schedule for childcare reasons,” he says. “I've chatted to people who have thought of it and couldn't recommend it enough.”
I am proud to work for a company that values difference.”
In 2002, when Mark was 19, he started working in the city, having deferred university for a year. He felt like his options were endless.
This changed weeks later when a doctor told Mark he would be registered as severely sight impaired (blind). “At the time I thought my life was over,” says Mark. “Looking back, it made me the person I am now.” Mark came across KPMG's Disability network and felt it gave him a platform to develop, learn and access an incredible network of individuals both inside and outside of KPMG.
He became chair of the WorkAbility network and says that this became a springboard to his career in Inclusion, Diversity and Social Equality. “I am proud to work for a company that values difference,” says Mark. “And I'm proud to work alongside people that want you to create, and achieve, your own ambitions.”