In this inaugural edition of Alumni Spotlight for 2024, the Circle team caught up with Wendy Wan, SVP, Group Strategic Communications and Brand in UOB. Wendy shares about her KPMG experience, what she misses the most about ‘bleeding blue’, and her nuggets of wisdom for those who are just starting their journey with the firm.

Hello Wendy! Tell us about yourself.

I joined the firm as a scholar, doing a couple of internships before joining KPMG’s Audit function upon graduation.

The four years spent in Audit specialising in financial services was great exposure for me, especially with the wide spectrum of clients that I worked with. I also had the privilege of going on a secondment to Melbourne, Australia, which “opened my eyes” to a different world and audit landscape. It was an invaluable experience, working in a rather dissimilar environment due to the people, culture, dynamics and the way they worked – it made me treasure certain aspects of audit life in Singapore, but also ponder about the areas of improvements we could work on.

As I progressed in my career with the firm, I wanted to explore something different and requested for a transfer to the (then) Marketing & Communications team within Clients & Markets (C&M). I had the opportunity to manage projects across different functions and sectors, such as Tax, the Global Japanese practice, SMEs and many others.

My responsibilities shifted from serving external clients to working with internal stakeholders, such as coming up with marketing strategies for various campaigns across the different functions, planning events, and content management – all of which gave me great insights into the different needs and cultural behaviour within different parts of the firm.

I also had the opportunity to project manage the “Enterprise 50 Awards” at that time. To this day, I believe it is still one of the most prestigious and recognised awards created and organised for SMEs, and I’m proud that I was a part of it. 

Tell us more about your move from Audit to Clients & Markets, and how you were supported through that transition.

The career opportunities within a big and multi-disciplinary firm like KPMG are plentiful, and cuts across various business service lines, as well as internal business partners, such as those within Central Services. The firm was open and supportive to internal movements, and I was fortunate to have strong support from both my superiors.

With the change in roles, soft skills acquired during my audit days were put to the test. Resilience and adaptability to pick up new skills and knowledge within a short period of time, coupled with the hard, technical skills on sectors and the firm’s businesses, equipped me well for my new responsibilities. Despite the steep learning curve, I never regretted my decision to take on a new role, as it opened up a whole world of opportunities for me to grow professionally and personally. 

How has KPMG contributed to the growth and development in your career journey?

Currently, in UOB, my team is responsible for crafting communication strategies and messages for the bank and managing the media.

My audit days laid a strong foundation for my understanding of the financial sector, while my role in C&M provided me with marketing and communications skill set, an ideal combination to support me in my current job.

In addition, the people skills gained were invaluable. From handling client senior management and supervising juniors within the audit teams, to managing internal stakeholders cutting across the firm’s hierarchy in my C&M role: I learnt that managing people and building trust and rapport are arguably the toughest skills to master yet are the most priceless attributes anyone can gain. Learning to navigate different styles, expectations, and in the process, how to remain calm under trying circumstances, have seen me through all my different roles in my entire career journey to date. 

What do you miss most about being in KPMG?

KPMG was an ideal place to start my career journey. Because I joined with a cohort of fresh graduates, it was almost as if we continued school life together, but in a new place. There was always the same buzz and energy around me, and that helped me to transition from being a student to a working adult.

Also, there was always a good support system around. I had friends and peers going through exactly what I was experiencing, who were able to fully empathise and go through the ups and downs with me.

Now that I am out of the firm, I continue to keep in touch with some of my KPMG friends, both current staff and alumni. It’s also great to be connected via the alumni Circle network and newsletters.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who has just joined KPMG, or is intending to join?

Keep an open mind. There’s always so much more to learn than just the work you’re doing – it’s your willingness and capacity to learn that will help you to make the most out of your experience.

Getting my KPMG scholarship, starting my career with the firm, the opportunity to work overseas, changing roles within the firm, before experiencing the world outside of KPMG – every step has enriched me differently, and I’m always grateful for the opportunities that were given to me at KPMG.

Whenever I meet my ex-KPMG friends, we always share fond memories of our time with the firm. It’s no wonder we say, “Once KPMG, Always KPMG!”

If you’re thinking of recapturing that sense of belonging, have a look at career opportunities here. There’s always an opportunity to make your mark, thrive with us, and learn for a lifetime.