Aisling Byrne, Risk Consulting Trainee, KPMG
What's your name, job and organisation?
My name is Aisling Byrne and I work in Risk Consulting with KPMG.
What does your job involve?
In Risk Consulting we assess different business challenges that different companies are facing. These could be new challenges that are coming down the line that they might need to adapt to or they could be existing problems that businesses face on a day to day basis. We work with these clients to help find a suitable solution tailored to each client's needs.
What skills are important to be successful?
It's an extremely diverse group of industries that we get to work across, which is probably one of my favourite things about the department. So far I've worked in aircraft leasing and in the banking sector. The same type of skills are definitely applicable to each of the jobs that you work in so the top skills that I would say are most important would firstly be communication skills. You're straight away working with clients from first year and you have to be able to interact with the clients and be comfortable with asking questions because you're working with guys in these industries who are experts in their fields and you're obviously coming in straight out of college and experiencing all of this for the first time. You can't be afraid to ask questions and speak up and say to your seniors "I don't understand this." That's absolutely fine. Everyone is more than happy to help you because if you're asking questions it means you're going to deliver the best possible outcome for the team. Secondly, I think it's really important to be able to work efficiently so having a basic proficiency in Excel, Word and PowerPoint can be really helpful. You don't have to be an expert but it can definitely help when you start if you've experienced it all so if there is anything in your university that you're maybe able to take a course in, or just go to a lecturer who is good at it for some tips, that can be really helpful as well.
How do you balance work and study?
You study for the Chartered Accountants exam as well as working full-time so being able to balance your study and your work is a real skill. Initially I was obviously very daunted by the thought of having to balance both of them but KPMG put me in touch with some of the seniors on the team and I know loads of people had the same experience where if you have a question or a worry when you're applying for a job they're really good at putting you in touch with somebody who has recently gone through the traineeship. After talking to one of the seniors who just finished her SAEs, it really put me at ease. She said "Of course it's going to be difficult but if you have an interest in getting this exam and doing well in your job, the support network is there to hep you achieve both."
How did you get into your job?
There were two main things that I did while growing up that led me to look at consulting when I was in college. I've been acting since I was about five and I love getting up on stage and acting to an audience of people. In college that led me to doing some case study competitions. I like working with people and performing to people and I like having a chat with people so with the case study competition I got to do that presentation while also trying to solve a problem. That kind of tied into my Commerce degree where I really liked problem solving, but I certainly didn't want to be stuck behind a screen the whole time. You work with clients from your first year, which is an extremely rare opportunity in a company, so I get to do the problem solving and I get to develop great skills from a business perspective but also get to exercise that presentation side and my communication skills.
Was the chance to travel in your job important?
I got to go to Kenya with my school when I was in 5th year. We travelled for three weeks and we taught in Nairobi for a week and then worked in a self-assembled village in Katui for another week. To get the opportunity at such a young age to see a totally different world blew my mind and made me want to experience things outside of Ireland immediately. I want to get the opportunity to travel really far and meet new people. I ended up going to Singapore on my exchange and then to London for my internship and I knew then that I wanted to be part of a really big global organisation where I would have the opportunity after my traineeship possibly to travel with the company. For example, on my first project, on General Data Protection Regulations, we had some conference calls with the company we were working with in Hong Kong. Having that ability to interact with different cultures and manage different expectations from people around the world really helped me when I came into KPMG.
What do you love about your job?
It sounds cheesy but it's definitely the people that are my favourite part of the entire experience so far. I've only been in the company for a year and already from my intake I know I have friends for life. I think that's something really special, to get that from only one year working in a company. I think the Risk Consulting department is also quite unique in a way that it's quite a small intake. There are only actually 12 of us in the graduate intake. I think people will consider these Big Four intakes to be huge with hundreds of people, and you could get lost in it. I definitely don't think that's the experience of any of my friends but I also really like that I have a really small intake. The 12 of us are from completely diverse backgrounds. I studied Commerce but there's a mathematical physicist, an engineer and lawyers, which is something that I really like. Everybody brings something interesting to the group and it's just really fun. All of the social events that we have are fantastic. Obviously the work is great but it's also really nice to know that there are all the fun things that come along with work as well.