Accountancy and financial management

Paul Vance, Head of Resourcing, KPMG Ireland

With over 22 years in recruitment and human resources, Paul Vance has seen plenty of change in the graduate recruitment landscape. As Head of Resourcing with KPMG, he manages a workforce of over 2,500 across 5 sites in Ireland and Northern Ireland. He talks about working for a market leader like KPMG and the importance of being proactive when it comes to representing the brand to students and graduates.
We need to be consistently doing it better, faster and at a higher level than our competitors and we believe that we do, and the awards we’ve won recently demonstrate that.

Degree subject Bachelors Degree, Business Studies, IT Tallaght
Job title Head of Resourcing
Employer KPMG Ireland

“In 2015, we won graduate employer of the year at the gradireland awards, this year we won Most Popular Graduate Recruiter 2016,” says Paul. “It’s something we’re very proud of, and it’s something which I feel validates the level of work which we have been putting in over recent years.” Indeed KPMG have always been on the radar of final-year students seeking to enter the world of accountancy via one of the world’s most prestigious professional services firms.

Currently they take on between 280 and 290 graduates for their Irish operation. So how does that compare with the intake during the worst of the recession? “It’s actually not that different at all,” explains Paul. “The KPMG model is built around getting the best graduates and training them to become chartered accountants, we’re always looking for the best students and that continues each year, no matter what the economic climate. During 2009 and 2010, we were recruiting somewhere in the region of 240 graduates per year. Every year, exceptional students will graduate, and that’s who we are after to help them realise their ambitions.”

The best and brightest, which KPMG attracts, enter the firm full of ambition, eager to continue their upward trajectory, and that is helped by KPMG’s focus on continued professional development and training. “Training, support and mentoring are at the cornerstone of everything we do in the people function here at KPMG,” he adds. “A student may have been successful in their final exams, but now they have to face professional exams to become chartered accountants, we need to support them through that, help them embrace the challenge of both working and studying. We give them the opportunities to train, travel and develop in this sector, to give them a career full of potential.”

Having worked in Intel for 13 years prior to joining KPMG in 2007, Paul does not view the graduates then and now as having as stark a difference as some analysts and commentators believe. “I genuinely don’t believe there is that much difference in terms of the best students, they all had drive and ambition then and they have the same now. Of course they communicate differently now, everything is faster and information is expected to be at everyone’s fingertips. We now have channels to engage with potential recruits that we didn’t have then; social media is how you talk to today’s graduate.

For the graduates of previous decades, you placed an advert in the newspaper and waited for the applications. Now you need to be more proactive, reach out and engage and communicate clearly and honestly what this company is about and what we can offer,” he adds. “There are a lot of companies out there competing for the same talent that we are, so we need our message to be clear and consistent. Each time we communicate with a student we’re communicating the KPMG brand, and that needs to be done in the best possible manner. Small details really do matter, it’s small things that can sway a person’s decision. We need to be consistently doing it better, faster and at a higher level than our competitors and we believe that we do, and the awards we’ve won recently demonstrate that. It’s a trend we’re committed to continuing.”