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Amber Swatton: Physics – KPMG

Amber Swatton profile picture

What degree course did you study and when did you graduate

I graduated in 2020 after completing a BSc in Physics.

Why did you choose that particular degree course?

I loved maths at school and knew I wanted my career to involve numbers in some way; I didn’t know when I applied that I wanted to go into accounting specifically, but I knew studying physics would open a lot of doors.

Tell us about your employer

I work for KPMG UK, who offer Audit, Consulting, Deal Advisory, Tax & Law and Technology services. It is one of the Big Four accounting firms and operates internationally.

What was the position you were recruited for. Please briefly outline the position you were recruited to within your organisation and summarise the business needs and role you fulfil

I initially joined the Audit Vacation Programme in the summer between my second and third year at university, and from that I joined the Audit Graduate Programme. The programme is three years long and in that time I get to complete the ICAEW ACA qualification to become a Chartered Accountant. I have completed 14 out of 15 of the ACA exams and I am now working full time in the business until my final exam. I work as part of a team on the audit of an entity, which could vary from banks to multinational companies, to test the financial statements of that entity.

What attracted you to this position?

The role allows me to complete a professional qualification whilst also gaining experience of working in finance. KPMG audits a range of entities in the UK and globally, so it has given me the opportunity to gain exposure and work with large financial institutions in the UK. There are also opportunities to progress my Audit career at KPMG to other member firms around the world to work which I hope to do in the future.

What are the key skills you learnt at Warwick that have helped you with your career to date?

The physics course at Warwick developed my problem-solving skills which have undoubtedly helped my career at KPMG, especially for the work involved in Audit. When you find a difference or an issue in an audit, it’s so important to be able to think about why this could be and to think about how to overcome it – it also shows initiative which your manager will love!

What has been your greatest career challenge to date and how did your experience and skills help overcome it?

My biggest career challenge to date has been when I had to solve a large issue in an area of the audit that I was overseeing, while I was still quite early in my audit career. I led conversations with the audited entity to resolve this issue.

Although this was difficult and challenging at times, with the support of my manager and team I saw this as a great opportunity for me to develop my communication skills.

What top tips would you give to students looking for a career in your market sector?

My first top tip would be that any experience is good experience – getting a work experience placement or an internship while you’re still at uni will give you the opportunity to develop some of the skills needed early in your career, and will also give you an insight into the role so that you know whether or not it is something you want to go into after graduating.

My other tip would be to be confident and take every opportunity that comes your way; KPMG have given me so many opportunities to grow and develop in my career in the short time I’ve been here, whether that be taking on more complex pieces of work or facilitating at student recruitment and graduate events.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?

Having done a physics degree and not knowing much about finance or accounting, I was worried that I would be behind other graduates in terms of technical knowledge. In fact, there are graduates from all sorts of degree backgrounds from English to neuroscience, and so everyone is in the same boat!

Any additional advice or comments?

No question is a stupid question!