Kevin Villarreal has quite literally travelled around the world with KPMG. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela and after 2,5 years working at KPMG in Melbourne, Australia, he moved to Sweden to join our Stockholm office.
Kevin Villarreal moved to the Stockholm office in 2018. Before that, he was at KPMG Australia’s Melbourne office and member of a new team called Digital Innovation and Analytics, working with making KPMG more data driven and accelerating the digital approach within the audit practice. Further down the line, the opportunity to come to Sweden opened.
“It felt like a good opportunity to bring my knowledge in that area, while being able to experience working and living in another country,” says Kevin Villarreal.
“When I arrived, it was easy to hit the ground running due to KPMG’s global approach and way of working. I had to learn the details and differences of the Swedish landscape, such as, almost all companies are required to be audited, the size of clients, the timings of the audit.”
"Your brain becomes more flexible to change"
Of the things Kevin likes the most about working in Sweden, open-mindedness and work-life-balance are top of mind.
“I think I have appreciated, and still do, how much my head of department and managers have trusted my judgement. They have allowed me to bring new ideas and to explore new approaches to the way we perform our service to clients. I am also happy to see how important the work-to-life balance is in Sweden.”
Kevin has during his years in Stockholm been involved with internal networks such as the expat network – something that is not only a good way to connect with other people in the company, but also to engage with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
“When you interact with other cultures, people with different background and different stories to yourself, it opens your mind and changes any preconceived notions you may have. You also get to learn from other person as well as teach them about yourself, your work and your culture. You become more understanding and accepting of those things that are new to you, and somehow, I believe your brain becomes more flexible to change,” says Kevin Villarreal.
Don't forget about fika
One thing very different in moving to Sweden compared to moving to an English-speaking country like Australia, is of course the language.
“During my initial discussions to come here, I was told that most people speak English so language wouldn’t be a problem, and that is partially true, but if I could go back, I would have used the six months before arriving to learn Swedish. Once you arrive and you start working, it becomes harder to set aside the time to learn it as you are busy.”
“In my experience the biggest challenge when it comes to not knowing the language is that it limits you socially. However, I think it is amazing that you can work and live in Sweden without really speaking the language. This is something I am grateful for.”
To other non-swedish speakers working in Sweden, Kevin has one last piece of advice.
“I would recommend learning words like fika, lagom, semester and "röd dag". They become very useful,” says Kevin Villarreal.