Advice 1: On starting your career at the Big 4: working at a Big 4 firm will set you up with a lot of skills, which makes it a great place to start your career. From the very beginning, there is an expectation that you figure things out quickly and add value, albeit with support there if you do need it. You work on many different projects and interact with many clients and internal members of the firm, which teaches you great people skills. You get an excellent grounding in finance and accounting basics. You also learn how to manage others very early on, including learning how to delegate. However, when you first start, remember to be humble and be willing to learn as you are starting from the bottom. Work is not like university where you are competing against yourself, in a way, to earn a specific score, but rather, you are in an environment with many talented and driven people competing against each other.
Advice 2: On qualities of successful individuals: the people who have made the biggest impact on Kristine have been those who are not simply good at their job and have great technical skills, but those who had time and knowledge to give to others, who are kind and humble and get along with everyone. These are the people who win contracts and inspire others.
Advice 3: On taking a risk and moving to a more entrepreneurial role: Kristine’s advice is to make sure you are prepared for the role you are moving to. When Kristine moved to a small investment bank and was seconded as the head of Finance at Creams, she needed to hire and build up the finance function from scratch and also to have the knowledge of how to prepare the company for sale. The skills that Kristine developed at KPMG were not only necessary for success in her new role, but she knew that they would also come in useful in case the new role didn’t work out and she needed to find another job.
Details of experience: Kristine completed her BSc degree in Economics at the LSE. She then joined the KPMG audit department, where she spent 4 years. She then moved to the transaction services department and subsequently to the integration and separation advisory department. She then left KPMG to work for a small investment bank and was seconded as the interim Head of Finance to Creams, a dessert café brand. In addition to business-as-usual tasks, Kristine worked on preparing the company for sale.
What the job is really like: In her time at Creams as the Head of Finance, no day was the same. Kristine had to be flexible and do a lot of tasks that were not strictly within her job description, which was to be expected at a smaller firm. Kristine helped to prepare the company for sale, which involved making sure all the necessary documents were ready. As part of this, she hired employees and built up the entire finance function.
This post is written by Experience Share, based on their interview with Kristine Chong on 29/01/2021 and has been approved by Kristine. The interview contains details of Kristine’s experience at KPMG, what it was like transitioning to a riskier role and going through the pandemic working at a dessert café company, the importance of being humble throughout your entire career and much more. To listen to the full podcast and to hear much more about Kristine’s experiences and her advice first hand, tune in on Spotify: link and on Apple Podcasts: link.