This year, upReach secured the opportunity for three teams of Associates to enter the KPMG International Case Competition (KICC).
Team members work together to solve a given business scenario, by choosing between several suggested solutions; presenting their recommendations for the client; and justifying their decisions when questioned by the judges.
Competitors are held to the standard of professional consultants by the expert KPMG judging panel, who assess them on behavioural capabilities including teamwork, commercial awareness and presentation skills.
Congratulations to the upReach Midlands team, who finished the competition in the national final where they were competing to represent the UK in Malaysia, in the international final.
upReach Associates Mariyan and Ruchira share their experiences of the competition.
How did you get the opportunity to enter the KICC?
Mariyan: upReach was the organisation that put that put the competition into action for us, I had no idea this existed before. upReach has been very useful in helping us get through the competition in a practical sense – enabling us to enter as a team of Associates, making sure our expenses were covered, and helping us prepare.
How did you bond as a team, since you first met in person on the day of the competition?
Mariyan: It is a little difficult to build chemistry when working with team members you’ve never met before. It took a while to find out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to work well together. After our case study video forum sessions with upReach, we discovered that, for example, Tom does the maths elements whilst I do the risk management of the case.
Ruchira: Everyone was really welcoming, and we’re all quite focused and driven people. We’re all from different degree backgrounds, which is a good asset. We have Economics, International Relations, geography and humanities backgrounds between us.
What is the most challenging aspect of case competitions?
Ruchira: At regionals, time management was a bit of a struggle, especially when different people have different ideas. There is limited time to construct ideas cohesive enough to make strong recommendations for the presentation.
Mariyan: It involves a lot of skills, such as negotiating with team members and being persuasive to the judges. It’s primarily about working under pressure and adapting to different situations.
Did anything surprise you about the KICC experience?
Ruchira: I found it really enjoyable! One thing that surprised me was how friendly everyone was. You have the expectation of people being too competitive, but before presenting the teams waiting would just get to know each other, and the staff were all really friendly too.
What feedback were you given when you won the regional stage at Bristol?
Mariyan: We learnt to keep our speech closer to the points on our slides. From the feedback, we won because of our delivery as well as the content, which they said was innovative. Other groups had amazing ideas, but they didn’t deliver it as well for various reasons, and their teamwork didn’t show as strongly. Our group did simple things like linking to each other (‘Tom will now speak…’). We were more comfortable on a conversational level to make our presentation more ‘real’. I think this is why we won.
How did you prepare for the national finals in London?
Mariyan: Tom and I went to the KPMG offices in Birmingham where we were taught how best to prepare to present and key tips, such as having pre-prepared slides to help answer likely questions.
Ruchira: upReach were really helpful when preparing for the regional round before the KPMG support was available to prepare for nationals, especially by working through case studies with us. That was something we really needed, and one of the greater advantages that we would not have had otherwise.
Are you interested in pursuing a career at KPMG?
Ruchira: I was already interested in KPMG, but working on case studies during the competition has helped me better understand my strengths. I’m now more interested in consulting, whereas I was looking into audit.
Mariyan: Definitely, meeting KPMG employees through the KICC has given me an insight into working there, and I hope to meet more in the future. My original career interest was diplomacy, and I can see myself moving into this later in my career.
Besides your involvement in the KICC, what else have you enjoyed about being an upReach Associate?
Mariyan: The “my.upReach” online portal and everything on it. I was struggling to pass numerical tests beforehand, but my.upReach offers free practice tests where you can see worked examples to understand how to reach the answers, which is really helpful for me.
Ruchira: The amount of opportunities that are available to me! I like that upReach are always offering ways for Associates to learn about different sectors and opportunities to grow, such as the KICC competition. I know that if I don’t find anything I want to do through university, upReach always have different opportunities available for me.
Thomas: Bespoke advice from all of the upReach team and a professional mentor has offered me a unique opportunity to grow and navigate the corporate world. Being offered so much motivation and help from upReach has really advanced my career aspirations and allowed me to develop myself in ways I wouldn’t have believed possible.