"I love my job because I get to work with all kinds of clients, giving me insights into various industries and companies."
Tanja has decided to complete a part-time training program to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) at KPMG Switzerland. The Swiss training as a Certified Public Accountant is a requirement for auditing the accounts of financial institutions and industrial companies. The program can last between three and four years, depending on education level and professional experience. Tanja is able to put into practice any newly acquired knowledge and achieve a balance between theoretical and practical aspects. Along with financial support from KPMG, she receives professional support and enjoys flexibility in how she plans her time.
Tanja, what motivated you to undergo the training to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) at KPMG Switzerland?
Back during my commercial apprenticeship, I developed a huge fascination for the accounting world. With both of my parents also working in this field, I was familiar with their professional duties and was able to greatly identify with the job. So once I had completed my apprenticeship and spent a year as a flight attendant, I decided to study in the accounting field. To me, training to become a Certified Public Accountant was the ideal solution thanks to its combination of practice and theory and the new challenges it brings every day. I am delighted that I made that decision. Even when times are stressful, I know I can count on a supportive team who always has time for me and sticks together in the most exceptional ways.
What makes your job in Auditing so exciting?
I love my job because I get to work with all kinds of clients, giving me insights into various industries and companies. During the busy season, I take care of around ten customers, allowing me to gain a range of different experiences. In one case, for example, I got to travel to Vienna for several days for a customer. In another, I was able to review the stock of a pet shop before it opened in the morning. That’s why my learning curve has been very steep. Something else that makes this training so special is the sense of community I feel with my colleagues. It’s a community that is growing into a kind of family, where we are constantly exchanging with each other and learning together, as we all are going through things together.
What kind of support do you get from KPMG in your Certified Public Accountant training?
Along with financial support for the training, KPMG offers me internal training courses and update calls, where I learn a lot in addition to my school lessons at Expert Suisse. KPMG’s stance as a flexible employer and how it gives me the freedom to decide for myself how long I want to work during summer is something I don’t take for granted. I also get time off for studying a week before the final exam so I can prepare for the modules as best as I can and manage all my learning material successfully.
How have the internal training courses and exchange with accountants at KPMG benefited you?
The internal training courses were a great way to prepare for the “Audit” module in my second year. That was the point at which I realized how much my job and the internal training had already taught me. Exchange within the team or with internal specialists is also very valuable. The great thing is that I can always find someone at KPMG to answer my questions, regardless of what they are about.
What has been your greatest challenge during the Certified Public Accountant training until now?
For me, the amount of material I have to study within a short time has definitely proven to be the most challenging part of this training. Given the vast range of subject material, it is also not easy to identify one single focus for the exam. In my first year, I had to learn to create a schedule independently and to structure my tasks. The interaction with my colleagues helped me in this regard. My work year is also highly structured, and each stressful phase has a foreseeable end – so it is predictable.
What does a typical work week look like for a Certified Public Accountant in training at KPMG, Tanja?
That’s a good question... I’d say that there is no real “typical” work week. Some weeks I spend working at the customers’ premises, sometimes even abroad. Last winter, my team and I spent a week in Vienna. During our free time, we explored the city and went out to eat at some great restaurants. But there are also weeks where I spend more time at the office in Zurich. We have the option of working from home. The place of work and customer locations also vary heavily depending on the team and customer. I enjoy working with the team on location, as that’s where I learn the most and a good sense of team spirit makes the workday easier. During the busy season, we don’t have any school, and it doesn’t start again until May. This means we can concentrate fully on our work.
Who would you encourage to consider this type of apprenticeship? What skills and background do they need to have?
I would recommend it to people with a keen interest in accounting and who are ambitious and resilient, as there will also be challenging days. Prospective Certified Public Accountants also need to possess strong social skills. In addition, they should be open to getting to know customers and employees alike, as they work with a range of different customers and in different teams.