I am immensely fortunate to be a part of a firm that afforded me opportunities for transformation and growth, allowing me to challenge myself in ways that I would not have thought possible.

Before I joined KPMG, I was based in London, in the field of executive headhunting and recruitment, searching for appropriate candidates for senior level executive positions within our client organizations. In 2008, I exchanged foggy British shores for sunny Dubai. For three years, I worked in a boutique executive search firm.

In 2011, I made the move to KPMG, following a former boss who had joined KPMG to lead the executive search function, a service we still offered at that time. We would get leads from clients to place candidates for positions like CFO or Heads of Internal Audit. However, I was itching to try something new: it could be exploring a related field, but I was keen to enjoy new experiences.

Marketa Simkova

As fate would have it, KPMG made the strategic decision to cease proactively offering executive search as a service; it would continue, but only opportunistically. I asked the then Head of Management Consulting if I could try working in People and Change. I was thrilled to discover that my colleagues were extremely supportive. Not only was I able to seamlessly transition to the P&C team, but I was granted access to extensive training, including a trip to the UK for a training on solutions by the British P&C team.

I was allowed to participate in projects, and while initially I couldn’t take the lead as I was still learning, I was able to rapidly catch up. While the team makeup changed over the years, I have always had the support of excellent leadership who shared their knowledge and expertise.

Even though I initially didn’t have the requisite technical skills, I exhibited the right attitude, and hired people who were extremely competent technically. There is no dearth of opportunity in KPMG, and I have never faced discrimination due to my gender. I was able to build the practice to what it is now. Our team comprises 35 people in the UAE, and 50 across the region.

I am proud to say that our team in the UAE is tremendously diverse, with 15 nationalities and a 50:50 male to female ratio. I owe a debt of gratitude to the leaders who trusted me and recognized my potential. My journey is one of reinvention and transformation, and it has been an adventure every step of the way.