Global Opptunities Program
Standing by the windows with the incredible skyline through audit field offices, I just could not believe that it was me working in the world city, Manhattan. Getting on the rotation to New York KPMG was not only my dream came true but it also brought me valuable chances to participate in audits in one of the darkest pages in Wall street history.
Before getting on the rotation, I was among all diligent auditors in KPMG Taipei working day and night with primary clients of foreign financial institutions. Through meetings and presentations with high level non-Mandarin speakers from clients side, there was one day that I was so frustrated with my English communication skills and just could not wait to get improvement, BY ALL MEANS. There I went – banking segment of financial services department in KPMG New York.
The first day that I worked as a KPMG New York employee was the day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. I will never forget the strong feeling I had of being there to witness an unforgettable day to the Wall Street when I watched CNN headlines and live news. My first engagement was one of the largest financial institutions in the world and it was also one of the financial institutions under spotlight with its liquidity seriously dragged down by its toxic asset positions. I did not realize that I was really working in part of Wall Street dynamic history until being instructed to lock the client’s financial statements, including all superseded versions, into my drawer before the earning press release since they were so valuable that anybody could just sell them to media for a fortune.
Working in the New York office, I was very impressed by their practices of KPMG core values, among which there was “lead by examples” and “work together” that inspired me more than others. The engagement team that I worked with for the majority of time during my rotation to New York was one of the KPMG worldwide major accounts. The team in New York has approximately 100 people with engagement partners around 15. Auditing such a large client is just like being an army at the war that faces issues all the time and it is ever more challenging to internally manage the team. Surprisingly, even with all intensive work, internal communication was much more efficient than my expectation. For example, there were regular status update meetings in which engagement partners communicated the client’s and KPMG’s major business updates to the team, including clearing rumors that might have negative effect to the entities or emotionally to the team. Even the most junior associates are encouraged to express their thoughts or raise questions at any time and communicate directly to partners as they believe no question is a stupid question. Partners and managers are also very open-minded to carry out daily field works. They proactively work with clients to manage the engagements and lead associates throughout the audits. Working with such a big team indeed enlightened my view on the leadership and teamwork.
In addition to heavy workloads, there is a healthy goal to balance everyone’s work-life practiced by the team. For example, there were many off-line social events where the team drank together to relax after works and to share lives. There were regular birthday celebrations in the team and even some team sports events, such as annual softball games, fund raising, bowling games or Christmas secret Santa to enjoy with the team. “Enjoy your weekend” said by partners at 3:00pm on Fridays when they started to kick people out of the office. It can be hard to always keep the balance between professional work and personal life. However, I did witness the practice in NYC.
Getting on the rotation with incredible experiences definitely brought me an irreplaceable plus. Knowledge and skills that I learned had their impacts on both personal terms and career-wise as it broadened my thinking and opened my minds to new ideas, school of thoughts, best practices and meeting new people. Whenever I shake hands with people, it reminds me the days when I worked in one of the most dynamic cities in the world.