"I’d always wanted to experience how it feels to work abroad and, of course, I knew that a secondment would be a very good chance to grow professionally as well as personally."
How long is your secondment in New York and what’s your role there?
My 18-month secondment will end on April 30, 2023. Throughout this period, I have been working as a Manager for many of our Swiss audits as the component auditor. Within my role at the so-called German Desk, I need to work closely with various Swiss group engagement teams as well as with many US colleagues. I think this is a unique setup for a secondment since it enables me to stay in a close business relationship with many of my Swiss colleagues throughout my entire secondment.
Why did you decide to go for a secondment?
I’d always wanted to experience how it feels to work abroad and, of course, I knew that a secondment would be a very good chance to grow professionally as well as personally. I was lucky that I knew many colleagues who had already successfully completed a secondment and they really inspired me to take this valuable opportunity.
I quickly found out that this secondment in New York offered me the chance to expand my knowledge to industries such as pharma, chemical and retail, which I had never previously encountered throughout my nine years of experience with KPMG Switzerland. I also wanted to maintain business relationships with my Swiss colleagues and thanks to the setup of the German Desk, this was possible. After considering all these factors, I knew that the German Desk in New York was the perfect team for my secondment.
So far, what has been your most memorable experience during your time in New York?
This is a hard question to answer since there have been many special experiences so far. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first day at a big client when we introduced our Audit team. This meeting took place in spring 2022 and there were approximately 70 people in the room. However, it was special because many of our team members, as well as many of the client’s accounting team members, had never seen each other in person before because everyone had been working remotely for the previous two years. So, there was a huge amount of excitement in this big room and it felt similar to the first day in school.
Another very special experience was during our busy season when another Manager and I would regularly go to the New York office together. At this time, between January and March 2022, literally everyone was working from home apart from the two of us and, of course, this huge office was completely empty. It really felt like we were entering a ghost town every time we stepped into the office. Luckily this has substantially changed and life has returned to the New York office.
What is different to Switzerland and is there anything you didn’t expect before going to New York?
During my time here in the US, I’ve learned about many differences. To highlight a few: The mentality or working culture in the US is different compared to the one we have in Switzerland. For example, people in the US tend to start working later at 9am (meetings before 9am are not encouraged) but they are fine if you give them a call at 10pm or later, which I think would not be appreciated in Switzerland. In general, I would say that we manage our work/life balance better in Switzerland compared to the US.
Another expectation mismatch was that I’d thought the US teams would be very detail oriented or inefficient before I came here. Working with US colleagues really proved me wrong, since they showed me their pragmatic and efficient audit approaches, especially when setting up review work.
What key learnings will you take with you?
A key learning for me so far has been the expansion of my knowledge to industries I previously did not have the chance to work in, such as pharma, chemical and retail. An important practical learning was the substantive only audit approach, which is implemented here for all non-integrated audits. Of course, my English skills also benefited a lot from this secondment and working in this different environment will help me to adapt quickly to new challenges in the future. In addition, I was able to expand my network within KPMG US significantly, which is a benefit for life.