If you had told me a year ago that I would spend a day at a tax agency –let alone love it – I would have laughed in your face. But for someone who is always open to any opportunity, I jumped at the chance when the Alumni Office asked if I would like to shadow a La Salle PR graduate for the day.
I was unsure of what to expect, and Ann Marie Gorden, ’09 eased my anxiety by speaking to me on the phone before I arrived. What I expected would be a cursory phone call turned into a half hour conversation and made me feel really comfortable with Ann Marie. She has worked at KPMG for a little over a year. KPMG is one of the largest tax, audit, and advisory firms in the world, with over 137,000 professionals and 7,600 partners. When I arrived, I signed in and walked across the gigantic complex to AMG’s office. We spoke for a little bit about the corporate structure of KPMG and Ann Marie explained some of the corporate lingo.
Next I met with Christine Curtin, the Chief of Staff. Christine compared her job to that of a manager- she has her hands in a lot of different projects but oversees them all. I never even knew this job existed, but it sounds very interesting! Afterwards, I met with several other members of the KPMG Communication staff: Ichiro Kawasaki, Director of the Office of the Chairman & CEO; Margo Hackel, Director of Internal Communications; Tim Connolly, Chief of Communications; Megan Dubrowski, Associate Director of Industry-Energy; Whitney Steele, Associate Director of the KPMG Video Network (KVN); and Isabel Garrone, Senior Associate for KVN.
Here are some of my takeaways from a thoroughly insightful day at KPMG, full of insight, guidance, and discovery:
- All of the individuals I met with noted how their previous positions in PR agencies prepped them for their role working in internal communications. Many of the professionals noted how the fast-paced work environment and multiple clients allowed them to get exposed to many different areas before finally picking one to focus on.
- One thing that surprised me was that many of the professionals pointed out that they did not necessarily come from a finance background, despite working at one of the largest tax firms in the world. They said that their expertise came from doing research on the job, and that they learned from their colleagues. Overall, everyone mentioned that there is always a learning curve when starting a new job, and that includes starting in a new industry.
- Christine Curtin pointed out that doing a thankless job is important because it allows potential leaders to know how the wheels work at a company. She advised me to never say no and be willing to try everything to gain varied experiences.
- Christine also advised to make your job work for you and figure out the pros and cons of every position before you consider leaving it for another (whether within the company or at another company). This reminded me a little of the Social Exchange Theory (Com 205 coming in handy!) in that there were always reasons to stay or go, and it is important to strategize the best time to leave.
- Many professionals noted the rise of social media. Ann Marie said that she uses several different platforms and showed me the intense planning behind all posts. She also pointed to Google Analytics and other services to help track and strategize posts.
- A lot of the professionals were very candid about the salaries and job market for PR professionals. Not going to lie- I think every PR student is a little wary of this and it was very refreshing to get some blunt answers; it really eased my anxiety.
- I was in awe at how much planning goes into some of the internal communications. KVN, the internal news network, does feature stories on KPMG employees and the video team has to plan out every shot, anticipate answers, and get footage in advance. I guess I never really thought about how much planning goes into producing a video clip, which makes everything much more impressive upon completion.
- I was also surprised by how much KPMG does to foster a friendly atmosphere. For a tax company, I would never have expected it to have internal publications and a television studio (Ann Marie also pointed out how special it was to have a large cafeteria at the corporate complex). KPMG had a very open and social structure, which goes against the stereotype of the quiet, number-crunching accountants one would expect to work there.
Overall, I had a great time getting to know the professionals at KPMG. Ann Marie was a great host and it was interesting hearing about how her time at La Salle impacted her career. We spoke about the Com Department, different professors, organizations, and her internship experience. I really enjoyed her perspective, and she gave me invaluable advice about advancing my career. Talking to an alumna was really helpful, and I’m grateful to the Alumni Office for offering me this opportunity.
Ryan Wall is a sophomore majoring in Communication with a concentration in PR and Communication Management. He is minoring in Latin American studies. Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org