KPMG is finding the apprentice route is beneficial for the firm. It invited the AAT to meet three of the first candidates on its KPMG360° programme to show how rapidly they’ve advanced…
Standing on stage in front of 12,000 people at Wembley Arena, Gabriele Scavinskyte probably thought she’d woken up in some surreal dream.
Usually, it’s only famous musicians who tread the boards here; the 24-year-old accountant was about to deliver a three-minute speech to an endless mass of people, including Jessie J and Kate Winslet.
Gabriele took to the stage to speak about her journey from Lithuania a few years before with little English, eventually ending up on KPMG’s lauded 360° apprenticeship programme.
Since it launched in 2015, the KPMG360° programme has enhanced the career prospects of Gabriele and her fellow apprentices. They’ve helped restructure companies, worked in Europe, picked up AAT qualifications and are now hurtling towards chartered status.
Having opted for KPMG360° over university or going straight into work from studies, the apprentices have been able to progress their careers through the scheme, as if they were graduates. From Waitrose to Wembley, here are their stories…
Meet the apprentices
Before KPMG360°, Vivian Laditan had worked was in Waitrose, as a stock assistant.
“Your parents always want you to go to university,” says the 24-year-old Londoner. “But KPMG360° challenges that, giving you the chance to pursue a career you love… I wouldn’t have these opportunities elsewhere.”
“Because I joined KPMG straight from school, I didn’t really know how to speak professionally. But when I joined KPMG, we had an induction week where we learned how to give pitches, how to speak to people and write emails. It helped a lot with my fear of not fitting in.”
KPMG360° has meant working in some newsworthy areas. Having joined KPMG’s Pension and Investment Advisory team after his A-levels (where he “looked at how pension schemes are funded; a hot topic”), Brian worked with a broad range of companies across healthcare, government and FMCG
He’s also changed the tyre of a Formula 1 car during a pit stop challenge, sat in the cockpit of an RAF plane and spoken at the Labour party conference.
“At 18, I didn’t know what area of the firm I wanted to work in. But the rotational aspect has allowed me to choose somewhere I felt I could progress. No two days are the same.” Brian is currently working in Restructuring and loving every minute of it. Like Vivian, he’s also working towards chartered accountant status.
When she’s not ‘playing Wembley’ or gracing Time’s magazine covers (yep, she’s done that too), Gabriele is working in Mergers & Acquisition. She also spent three months working with the Royal Air Force. Gabriele has gone on to become a KPMG mentor herself and visited her former school to give talks on “how students can reach their potential”.
There’s also the opportunity to travel. Brian has worked in Italy, Germany and Holland, while Vivian is looking forward to a potential Australia secondment. “KPMG360° is a game-changer,” she enthuses. “Working towards my chartered status is a nice finish too. It’s amazing to be part of it.”
The application process
Vivian: “The first stage of the application process involved filling out an online questionnaire. That was followed by a telephone interview, where I was asked about my knowledge of KPMG and to see whether I had a real interest in working there. It involved being asked questions such as, ‘Tell me what you know about KPMG’ and ‘Why are you interested in KPMG’. After that, I had to complete the assessment on the assessment day.”
Brian: “I found the application process extremely straightforward. Much of it was online. It all culminated in me attending an assessment centre in Manchester. This took an entire day, and involved applicants going through group tasks and writing assignments. It was a well-run day that brought out a lot of skills.”
Joan Egenes, Head of Business and Leadership at KPMG advises, “if you’re interested in applying for KPMG360, the easiest way is to access our website or on one of our social media pages (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook). Here, you can find out about all of our apprenticeship programmes and make an enquiry. There is an application process through our careers portal, followed by an audio submission and finally an assessment centre.”
What’s involved in the KPMG360° programme?
As you might have guessed by the ‘360’ moniker, KPMG360°, course is rotational, with apprentices spending 9-12 months in different parts of the company. This sees them working with a diverse bunch of clients, from start-ups to multinationals, and in sectors spanning aerospace to healthcare.
The necessary entry requirements are grades BCC (or higher) at A-level, plus five GCSEs at A*-C (UK) or grades BBBB (or higher) in your Highers and five Standard Grades at grades 1-3 (Scotland).
KPMG360° apprentices must complete AAT up to level 4. Studying the UK’s leading accounting qualification is something that apprentices, Vivian, Gabriele and Brian have found invaluable, not least the fact they are able to use the practical skills in their day-job.
Here’s how it works:
- the course is six years long
- there are three levels: Foundation, Technical and Professional
- foundation is Year 1 and involves two placements in different business areas. You’ll also complete AAT Level Three
- technical is Years 2 and 3. The placements are for longer spells, and you’ll complete AAT Level Four
- professional level is Years 4-6. You can decide to specialise in Audit, Tax, Consulting or Deal Advisory
- and then…? Well, after those six years, you can become a chartered accountant, a KPMG assistant manager or do secondments in overseas countries.
AAT and KPMG360° – creating the perfect match
Vivian feels that the partnership between AAT and KPMG works really well together, giving her the confidence to perform well in her department.
“I remember the joy at finishing Level 4 and thinking, ‘okay, I’m now a qualified bookkeeper/accountant. You know your stuff – you can do this.’ Even though I finished AAT a year ago, I still log onto aat.org.uk. Watching its short videos and reading tips refreshes what I know and keeps my work to a good quality.”
Brian: “The skills and knowledge I’ve gained through studying AAT has been incredibly useful and transferable to all my KPMG roles… It also helps that AAT is an internationally-recognised qualification; the company that I worked with in the Netherlands picked up on it.”
Tizzy Blythin, KPMG’s head of professional qualifications and accreditations, says, “Our clients look for solutions to problems,” she says. “And hiring people who think in different ways, have different mindsets and backgrounds means we can offer more rounded solutions, which is very beneficial. The people we recruit represent the breadth of society.”
What the future holds
With Gabriele aiming to become a KPMG assistant manager, and Vivian and Brian working towards chartered accountant status, KPMG360° has clearly given its apprentices an almighty head start with their careers. Aside from the technical knowledge that comes with an AAT qualification, the course has boosted their confidence too.
“Doing this has made me so much more confident,” booms Vivian. “I can walk into a room of people and spark up a conversation about what’s going on in the financial world. Having done AAT and KPMG360°, I feel like the world is my oyster… I’m enjoying the ride.”
Find out more from KPMG on the benefits of offering apprenticeships:Why a KPMG apprenticeship is good for business
Christian Koch is an award-winning journalist/editor who has written for the Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, The Independent, Q, The Face and Metro. He's also written about business for Accounting Technician, 20 and Director, where he is contributing editor.