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Inside View: KPMG

Amanda Brown of financial services firm KPMG offers advice on how MBAs can get a job at a top firm, how the interview process works and what makes KPMG a great place for you to start a career!

Thu Aug 1 2013


Amanda Brown is the National Recruiting Manager for KPMG, one of the largest professional services firms in the world and one of the 'big four' auditors - along with other big-name companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young.

Amanda, who has been at the firm for nearly nine years, overseas the recruiting of all MBAs and says that the biggest factor to you landing a job with a top-firm like KPMG is relevant work experience and having excellent communication skills. Speaking from KPMG offices in the US, Amanda shares these tips with us for an inside view into the recruiting process.

What is your role at KPMG and how long have you been with the company?

I’ve been with the company for almost 9 years. I am currently the national recruiting manager for MBA and law recruiting. Basically I oversee all of our, what we call, ‘advanced degrees with experience recruiting‘. I hire MBAs who have work experience, law students and PhDs, and then if there are any other degrees in which a candidate has prior work experience, full-time work experience, that would enable that person to enter the firm higher than entry-level.

How many MBAs do you hire each year?

The number fluctuates every year! I would say the average is around 30. So some years it’s higher than that, some years not. It’s typically not really any lower than that. I would say, probably, lets bump that up to 35.

What type of roles can MBAs expect at KPMG?

They enter into our consulting practice. It’s called Advisory here at the firm. But it is our consulting group, and then they also enter a tax practice that is called Economic and Valuation Services. They are very similar to a consulting role as well.

What makes KPMG a great place for MBAs to work?

That’s a wonderful question! I think our best attraction is our culture. It’s a very professional environment but it is also a very comfortable one. Its very much an open-door policy here at the firm - our partners have an open-door policy and it’s very professional - its just a great place to come and truly have an opportunity to be entrepreneurial as well.

We have a very strong global presence, too. We’re one of about 150-162 member firms within the KPMG international network. There are lots of opportunities there for MBAs to work on global clients, to travel internationally and to do international rotations. We have a very strong market position here in the United States, our Advisory (MBA roles) revenue is approx. one-third of our overall revenue in the US, so its an extremely fast growing practice and a very strong piece of the firm.

We also are unique in that we can offer a variety of services to our clients, so, if a client needs a tax expert, we don’t have to go outside of the firm to find that person: those people are in-house. Our MBAs really like the fact that within our Advisory practice we strategize with our clients to help figure out solutions to their problems, but then we also actually implement what we are strategizing - you’ve got those two pieces that MBAs really enjoy doing. It’s the opportunity to really work on some big names, so it definitely feels like a team environment; a family environment.

Does KPMG target any specific business schools?

We do target several schools and we focus on building relationships with those people at business schools, and we like to go back to the same schools because of those relationships. Its important when recruiting, whether MBAs or Undergrads, that you establish your brand and your reputation. You have to continue going back to the students who know who you are, what you’re about, and they like to meet alumni.

We focus on the schools that match, or have concentrations and also candidates that match the skills that we need. For example, if a school is strong in the supply trade area then ill be able to go to that school for our supply chain practice.

We go to Georgia Tech, Emory, Vanderbilt and NYU. We also have an alliance with Georgetown and they’re really in their marketing area. We’ve not gone there for specific recruiting purposes but we always go to a number of career fairs so we can meet students from all over. But then we also need to cast a wide net and see who else is out there. Because you don’t want to miss a top student. Other places we’ve been to on a regular basis include Dartmouth Tuck and Chicago booth.

Any advice for MBAs that are applying or hoping to get a job with a company like yours?

One of the keys for us is that relevant work experience is incredibly important. So its critical that they review the job description and understand what we’re looking for, and be sure that they are a match for the position. I’m looking for the well-rounded student. I’ve got to have somebody who is intelligent, who can show me that he or she can do the work, can do it well, who can learn quickly and for someone who is flexible and willing to just jump in there and do whatever is needed.

No matter what the task, I need somebody who has excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. We don’t manufacture anything - our people are our product - so you’ve got to be able to present well, be able to be put in front of a client and it’s critical that I have somebody who communicates well, who is professional and ambitious.

What’s the interview process like at KPMG?

Every firm will be a little different but at KPMG we do a first round of interviews on campus. We do not do case-study interviews: with do behavioral interviews. So, we’ll do one interview on campus and its typical 30-45 minutes in length. Then after that interview we make our selections for our offices, then the candidates come into the office which they would be based at if successful, and they would do a round of interviews with probably 3-4 people and those interviews will be approx 45 minutes in length. After that we make the final decision.

What do you think separates KPMG from other big-name professional services companies, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers?

I think its our culture. And, again, it’s a very professional place! There is a wonderful camaraderie here - its not an uptight firm. But its just a fun place to work and that’s what we say: it’s a fun place to work and there are lots of wonderful opportunities within the firm to enjoy your colleagues various events and community service events and that kind of thing. There are wonderful opportunities here for growth. You can really do anything and everything that you want to do here. Because we’re large we have those opportunities. Its great to work for a firm of our size because of what we have to offer.