Feeling nostalgic about your time in KPMG? We spoke to three staff members who re-joined the firm and talked about what drew them back.
When you go overseas, do you keep a look out for the familiar blue KPMG logo amid the city skyline? Advisory Director Arjun Kochhar certainly does. “I see it and it’s a familiar feeling,” he said.
“Once KPMG, always KPMG”; such is the sentiment that has drawn many KPMG alumni to re join the firm over the course of their careers, whether it be for a short stint, for good, or at different times when their career priorities change.
In our interview with 3 such re joiners Audit Partner Tan Chia Loong, Tax Director Chan Xue Pei, and Arjun himself we discussed a little about what drew them back to the firm.
Changing priorities and splitting ways
As with the ebb and flow of any career, there’s always a catalyst when one decides to leave a job.
For Chia Loong, family was a major reason for him to leave 10 years into his career as an auditor. “I was going through a tough period in my life as my firstborn just arrived. I could not adequately balance family and work, and I needed some space to think about what I wanted.”
Similarly, after almost seven years in the firm, Xue Pei had just gotten married and wanted to plan for her family. But she also wanted to explore the world outside of KPMG, a step she wanted to take for her career.
Sometimes, an interesting opportunity comes knocking during a time of change and it’s hard to say no. Arjun had a good 10+year stint with the firm including a one year secondment to the KPMG Jakarta office. He and his wife welcomed a daughter, and the pandemic hit.“An opportunity at a consumer goods firm looking after customer experience came along, and I was in the mood to try something different. It was a different ballgame, ,” he said.
Some of the partners joked with him saying he left the firm for a corporate secondment.
Part of our DNA
Arjun’s gut feeling was right; after working at the company for a year and a half, he started talking to a few people back at KPMG before deciding to come back to the firm. “I’m finding my feet again; there are so many new people. . But once you’ve spent a long time with the firm, it becomes part of your DNA you bleed blue.”
Xue Pei, who spent seven years in an APAC Tax position in an investment bank, reached a point where she wanted to commit to a job for long term. She saw many headcount cuts along the way, with individuals in senior positions leaving the bank once they hit their 40s.
“I was in my mid 30s and I wanted to stay somewhere longer term at the next place. KPMG provides such an opportunity and also allows me to work in different sectors apart from banks.”
On the other hand, Chia Loong discovered that as much as he needed work life balance, he needed a challenge.
“I tried out a finance role where I knocked off on the dot every day. But the work was too mundane for me. I realised this when, in just one morning, I managed to solve an issue that the company had been trying to deal with for months,” he said. “That was my moment of epiphany; I can’t live with a slow pace. I resigned shortly after. Then KPMG offered me a role which allowed me to better balance my career and family, while still being in a position to contribute to the firm.”
The three of them also agreed that it’s good to consider coming back to professional services because of the learning opportunities. There is also space for you to make your mark and thrive here.
“As an alumni, you think that KPMG is a great firm. You grow a lot professionally because you’re exposed to different clients, markets and problems at the young stage in your career,” said Arjun.
Added Chia Loong: “This is still a relatively protected space where you can explore. There’s mobility within the firm. Just ask and you may be able to try something different.”
New office of the future, same heart, many opportunities to grow
Of course, returning after a few years meant there were changes and transformations to grapple with, whether it be with service offerings, new ways of working, tech enablement, or even in the more “corporatized” way the firm currently operates.
But some things about the firm stay the same.
“All my closest friends are from KPMG. People who went through thick and thin together. You know you can trust them,” Chia Loong said. “We see each other as family. If you really need help with something, you reach out to family.”
Regardless of the reasons for their coming back, the sense of belonging holds true for all.
Said Xue Pei: “The KPMG culture resonates with me. Whether it’s good or challenging times, we stick together.”
“You just feel proud of the firm, it’s hard to describe that feeling,” added Arjun. “Admittedly, when I look back, there were fewer people back then and more “family” like. But it’s all part of transformation and growth. You still feel a sense of belonging.”
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.