World-class professionals have what it takes

by Mariejean Li

Andrew Chan, director recruitment and resourcing human resources
KPMG China and Hong Kong
Photo: Nolly Leung

Local graduates continue to flock to accounting jobs

With local and overseas graduates preparing themselves for professional careers over the next few months, leading professional services providers such as KPMG have specially designed training programmes for prospective candidates who have what it takes to succeed.

To join KPMG's team of top professionals, new entrants must have the right technical, analytical and financial skills, plus the necessary soft skills. The firm's approach to recruitment is based on a sound understanding of the issues affecting the market, points out Andrew Chan, director, recruitment and resourcing, human resources, KPMG China and Hong Kong.

He says the firm seeks leaders who are able to communicate effectively and work closely with a diverse range of clients, in order to help address business issues and challenges, develop appropriate strategies, manage business and technological risk; and implement required programmes in a timely and effective way. For this reason, the firm favours well-rounded candidates with a range of abilities.

The recruitment process at KPMG typically starts with an initial screening, followed by aptitude tests, a manager interview and group discussion and, finally, a partner interview. Annually, the firm receives about 30,000 applications for approximately 2,000 available positions. Candidates who pass their initial aptitude tests are asked to join other candidates for a group-discussion exercise on a range of business scenarios. This enables the firm to assess their individual strengths, interpersonal skills, communication abilities and other skills and behaviours based on KPMG's values.

Successful candidates then undergo customised orientation, training and mentorship programmes to get them up to speed. "Partners in the firm usually meet with the new recruits for a casual chat to get to know them better on a personal level. The new recruits usually appreciate this part the most," Mr Chan adds.

Focus on growth

KPMG offers employees a wide range of learning opportunities, ranging from induction to technical and development programmes. This enables staff to learn or brush up on specific technical knowledge. The firm also helps staff prepare for professional examinations such as HKICPA or CICPA through assistance programmes, offers specialised training on specific lines of business, and develops their leadership, management and professional skills.

Mr Chan says the fact that KPMG offers employees looking for long-term career growth a clear, consistent and well-structured path places the firm a notch above its competitors. "We position ourselves higher than others in the industry, simply because we give our staff the freedom and ability to achieve their goals by creating the right environment for them to grow and lead their careers where they want to take them," he explains.

"Besides equipping them with the right technical knowledge and skills through various in-house training programmes, such as a KPMG conversion course for graduates with a non-accounting background and professional exam-preparation courses for candidates who are sitting their CPA exams, we also offer on-the-job training and opportunities to rotate through our practices, so that staff can gain further experience and have the opportunity to take up international assignments. This exposure, and the experience gained working with our diverse clientele, allow them to develop the knowledge they need to advance and to grasp opportunities within the firm," Mr Chan adds.

As competition for talented professionals within the field remains keen, KPMG prioritises hiring and retaining promising local candidates, and focuses on developing their skills in order to promote them to senior positions over time. KPMG has also put in place programmes such as a senior manager development programme to help them be better prepared for these roles.

The firm's international flavour, pleasant office atmosphere and healthy environment help to retain new recruits, who undergo regular performance reviews and, depending on individual performance and experience, are promoted every two to three years. "It usually takes eight to 10 years on average for a fresh graduate to become a partner. We are clear on what have to offer, and make sure everyone gets treated fairly," Mr Chan notes.

Friendly ambience

Hard work is key, but it is only one of the firm's many focuses. For years, the vibrant culture at KPMG has drawn thousands of applicants and even previous employees wanting yet again to be part of the firm. Mr Chan says, "Our work environment, corporate culture, values and belief system are, and always have been, geared towards our people. We emphasise growth on both personal and professional levels."

Among the values cherished at KPMG are leading by example, working together, respecting the individual, being open-minded and honest, reaching out to communities and, above all, acting with integrity.

A constant focus on enriching staff members' lives by offering work-life balance programmes, diversity and new leadership and management opportunities helps to manage and maintain a well-organised and balanced internal structure.

KPMG is currently facing tremendous growth as it is embarking on a five-year plan with the aim of doubling its employee count as part of its continuous endeavour to provide quality service to its clients across China. This presents enormous opportunities for young, talented graduates to progress and build their careers.


Taken from Career Times 31 August 2007
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