Humanities for Corporate Life

KPMG Global Services Hungary’s Corporate Intelligence department offers a job where languages as well as reading, writing and analytical skills are highly valued. Gabriel M. Santucci, one of KGSH’s assistant managers and a former student of ELTE, tells us more about the job opportunity.

ELTE: Could you tell us a bit about yourself? What did you study at ELTE and how did you end up at KGSH?

Gabriel: I graduated from ELTE in June 2011 with a degree in English philology and a specialization in American journalism. During my studies, I worked as a column editor/contributor at the English magazine Time Out Budapest, which I enjoyed very much. However, I found being a freelance journalist in Budapest quite challenging, so after graduating, I started to look for corporate jobs that also offered me the opportunity to use my journalistic skills. Aside from many shared service centers that mainly offered costumer service positions, I found a position called “corporate risk investigation specialist” advertised by KGSH. This is how I began my career at KGSH.

ELTE: Based on the name of the department – Corporate Intelligence -, this job seems quite exciting – something similar to the CIA?

G: Indeed, it is very exciting. The job gives us the opportunity to learn and share many interesting issues taking place around the world.

ELTE: What is KGSH? We know KPMG, but how is KGSH related?

G: KPMG is one of the four big audit and advisory firms in the world. It is a network of member firms operating all around the world. KPMG Global Services Hungary (KGSH) is also a member firm, but unlike national KPMG member firms that primarily focus on their local markets, KGSH serves multinational groups with tax and other compliance obligations in multiple jurisdictions. With KGSH services, these multinational companies do not need to work with numerous advisors and set up separate processes in each location – in contrast, we help the entire organization manage their complex tax burdens and administration across multiple borders. It is a very efficient ‘one stop shop’ approach, which clients truly appreciate. Actually, KGSH is a Center of Excellence within KPMG’s global network.

ELTE: What are the primarily roles of your team within KGSH?

G: KGSH receives daily requests for due diligence reports from local KPMG offices located around the world. These requests have been previously submitted to the local KPMG offices by various clients, who wish to learn more about their third parties. Our team, the Corporate Intelligence department conducts research focusing on potential corruption, political connections, bribery, embezzlement and other risk factors that might affect the business relations of KPMG’s clients with their third parties. The reports can cover individuals or entities, and, are produced by solely on findings retrieved from available online sources, that is there are no telephone calls involved. Once the reports have been written and reviewed, they are sent back to the local KPMG offices and then to the end client. These reports play a very important role in the business decisions of every client.

ELTE: What traits do you look for in your applicants?

G: Many applicants believe that only people with a degree in finance or accounting have the chance to join our team. However, we do not seek for a specific background. We aim for creative, detailed-oriented and curious applicants, who think outside the box and use good common sense. Doing this job is almost like being an internal investigative journalist.  Each subject has a different story and we need to read and research thoroughly and use our common sense in order to analyze the eventual risks identified during the research. Once we find people that we believe fit the nature of the job, we provide the tools and training needed to identify the business risk patterns which the clients are targeting. Sometimes the hours can be long and the subjects of the reports can be high-profile, but the positive client feedback and the sense of achievement after having successfully dissected various adverse issues and legal filings make the job very satisfying!

ELTE: What is the background of your team currently?

G:  We are a young, multilingual team with many different nationalities and backgrounds. There are amazing people from Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Moldovia, Russia, Serbia, the UK, the US, Turkey and Ukraine. In the team, we cover more than 20 languages and some of our backgrounds vary from philosophy, journalism and communication to law, economy or internal relations.

ELTE: What kind of career path does KGSH offer for applicants joining your team? What responsibilities are expected throughout the years?

G: For starters, the first year with the team is always the most challenging. Our reports cover many areas, which must be understood, searched and reported according to our global methodology and within the standard timeframe. The technical part of the job is provided by the firm through trainings and our mentorship program led by our senior team members.

It usually takes five to twelve months for a fresh graduate to start writing reports with a low error margin. Learning this KPMG “investigative journalism” takes time. Still during the first year, applicants will learn about how different jurisdictions operate, ownership types and structures, search tricks and how to spot and report different business risks. Although the core of our searches are in English, we also run local languages searches in order to cover a broader online material. This is why we seek for people with proficiency in different languages. After the first year, people can start to increase their knowledge in other jurisdictions and can start being involved on report reviews or our knowledge management, mentorships, among others. Overall, we are a growing team and always looking for applicants to make our department the greatest.