Elise Woodgate, 2nd year Audit Trainee at KPMG in the Crown Dependencies, born and raised in Guernsey
What made you decide to become an Audit Trainee?
I always wanted to do accountancy. My dad’s an accountant, and my sibling works in tax. So everyone in my family is in a similar line of work and I didn’t want to buck the trend!
But I’ve always liked the idea of working with numbers. Maths was always my favourite subject at school – I studied it for GCSE and A-level, along with Business Studies and History. So I really wanted to stick with those kinds of subjects going forward. And with Guernsey being a top financial services centre, I felt accountancy was perfect for me.
What brought you to KPMG?
My older sibling works here, so I was still at school when I first heard about KPMG. They then put some feelers out to their bosses that I was interested in joining the company.
I then applied to do work experience here in 2020, and I had a great time on the placement. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and everyone was very warm and welcoming. They made me feel like part of the team right from the get-go. It was also a great opportunity to put one of the ‘Big Four’ firms on my otherwise empty CV at the time!
The work experience placement taught me a lot about the sort of tasks I would be completing as an auditor at KPMG. I really enjoyed the work, and it was a big reason why I then decided to apply for a place on KPMG’s annual trainee intake.
I highly recommend if you’re still at school to ask your parents or teachers about doing some work experience here for a few weeks. If you’re interested in becoming an accountant and starting your career in Guernsey, it’s a great way to gain an insight into the kind of work you’ll be doing and the people you’ll be working with. It also teaches you a lot about working in an office environment, and how to conduct yourself professionally.
So now you’re an audit trainee – how is that going?
Really well thanks! I’m currently working towards my ACCA qualification to become a fully qualified chartered accountant. I had a great first year – making lots of new friends and I managed to pass all my exams first time! I’m in my second year now, continuing my studies while learning on the job as well.
What’s really nice about being a trainee here is that you get to meet lots of like-minded people in your intake. It almost feels like being at university, as you all study and learn on-the-job together.
What kind of support do you get from KPMG as a trainee?
They pay for all the exams and the courses, which is amazing. I have friends who are at university, and obviously they’ve had to take out loans to pay for their tuition and cost-of-living. But here, I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds. I’m earning an income and building work experience, while also studying towards a professional qualification that’s similar to earning a degree.
A lot of my training is through BPP. They’re great at providing all the courses I need to study for my exams. KPMG also provide us with study leave, so we can have time away from the office to focus on our studies.
It really feels like the company is doing everything it can to make sure we succeed as trainees. It’s also a great motivator to have your friends and colleagues studying towards the same qualifications as you. We support each other in our studies, and talk about how our exams went to keep each other motivated. We can also celebrate together when we pass, which is always fun.
How do you achieve a good work / life balance as a KPMG trainee?
Obviously with juggling work and my studies, it’s important to make sure I have some time to enjoy myself. KPMG has this policy called ‘one thing’. So, if there is lots to do, you can let management know that you have this ‘one thing’ outside of work you enjoy doing – like a sport or hobby. And they make sure you have the time to do that. So they are very flexible, and that keeps me motivated as a trainee.
The Sports and Social Committee here are also really proactive in putting on a ton of events for us all to enjoy. We do go-karting once a year, for example, which work pays for. I went last year and it was so much fun. I also do netball club with my colleagues every Wednesday evening. That’s always fun to go to and a great way to get to know my fellow trainees and wider colleagues better.
I really enjoy living in Guernsey and just island life in general. A bunch of us go sea-swimming Friday mornings at the bathing pools before work, and in the summer we often go to the beach. It doesn’t take me very long to commute to and from the office – like 20 minutes each way. So it’s nice to be able to fit all these things in with my work and my studies.
Elise (front centre) with the KPMG basketball team, organised by the Sports & Social committee
What are your ambitions for the future?
At the moment I’m just focusing on doing really well in my studies, so I can become a fully qualified chartered accountant. I haven’t thought too hard about what I’ll do after that. I’d quite like to one day own my own business, and I think having a background in accountancy and financial services will be a great start towards achieving that. I’m quite creative as well, so having those skills will hopefully help me become a successful entrepreneur!
We have trainee positions open for our 2024 intake in our audit, tax, and advisory departments. Find out more by visiting our careers page.