Kevin Kurniawan landed a top graduate job at KPMG thanks to a networking event on the MBA at Australia’s UWA Business School.
The Indonesian-born professional previously studied at UWA at undergraduate level before moving back to his birthplace to join HSBC Indonesia’s competitive graduate scheme.
After juggling multinational clients in Jakarta and banking in Batam, Kevin was spurred towards an MBA, keen to kick-start his career and transition into accounting.
Currently close to completing his final MBA project, Kevin can enjoy a well-deserved break before he starts again from scratch in his new Perth-based auditing role at KPMG Australia in April 2016.
How did your MBA experience at UWA help you to land a job at KPMG, and what advice do you have for students looking to do the same?
I actually got the opportunity through one of the networking events arranged between UWA and KPMG Perth, where I spoke with one of the partners in the firm.
While the MBA program expanded my horizons academically, its real value lies in the network that UWA has with various influential people in Australian industries. I would stress the importance of networking as well as the willingness to take a step back in your career in order to move forward in the longer term.
What inspired you to shift career focus into accounting?
I didn’t want to limit myself within the banking space.
People ask me why I want to start over in an industry in which I have no experience, but I believe that having different skill-sets in different industries will add to my competitiveness in the market and add value to my career progression in the long run.
I’ve been interested in entering accounting, especially the auditing area, for a long time, and the MBA has allowed me to follow this different career path.
How did your experience at HSBC prepare you for an MBA?
It was a key turning point and has helped me to maximize my learning potential during the MBA program.
[While] working in three different roles at a well-known international bank —product management, credit analysis and relationship management — I developed solid understanding about the banking business model.
The dynamic experience also gave me exposure to dealing with different cultures and the different expectations that clients at each site have.
At HSBC Jakarta, given the enormous volume of clients that I needed to manage, I built up my resistance to working under time pressure to accommodate clients with differing needs.
While the number of clients I needed to manage was lower at HSBC Batam, the business complexity was higher, given the focus on the electronics and oil and gas industries.
Why did you choose to study at UWA in particular?
My goal is to settle in Australia and UWA is very well connected to the Australian business community. Having taken my undergraduate degree at UWA, it was my first choice. It’s a highly intensive program that you get to complete within a year.
What has the high point of the MBA program been so far?
The Pilbara study tour where we visited BHP and Rio Tinto mining sites was very interesting. But a game of darts combined with a few cans of beer with my cohort the following evening, makes it all the more memorable!
What was the hardest thing about the MBA application process?
The GMAT requires a few months of serious preparation. It takes commitment and hard work to manage the balance between work, GMAT preparation and social life.
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