From campus to consultant

Callum, Rhea and George, UK

L-R: Callum Corneille, Rhea Ghosal, George Gibbings

Why did you join EY?

George Gibbings: I decided to join EY because it was a large, international accounting firm and I thought it was a great platform to launch my accounting career for many years to come. I joined as part of the EY Degree class of 2012-2016 which offered a great opportunity to gain a degree qualification whilst completing most of the ICAS exams. So that leaves you in a position where you are a lot further down the line at a younger age with a wide range of experience behind you. In my case, this was within the wealth and asset management sector. It’s enabled me - even before I’ve gained a degree and the professional qualifications - to work with various fund managers and government funds – so now I’m actually quite comfortable in a working environment.

Rhea Ghosal: Like George I joined EY in 2012 - we actually had our assessment day together back in 2011- we were about 17 when we actually interviewed for this job. I joined EY because it’s a great platform, as George has said, to enter the financial services sector – and I was very focused on being in FS. It also gives you really good industry exposure without actually having to be in industry. Your career progression is very good at the firm because it’s so well structured – it provides the structure which is what most people at university don’t have – so it takes the worry away about having to look for a job and you also have a portfolio of what you’ve done because everything’s recorded for you. The other thing I really liked is that you come out of university already part qualified so that’s a really good thing which not many other universities could offer. So when you say you are a lot further down the line – you really are! And you have a lot more experience and confidence. Second thing I liked about EY was the culture, it’s the friendliest one of all the big four – which I really do believe. I’ve met some great people here.

Callum Corneille: So I’m Callum and I joined EY in 2012, the reason I joined – I really wasn’t sure at sixth form what I wanted to do – I liked maths and accounting – which narrowed it down to accounting. I got on really well with my sixth form teacher who showed me the poster for the course at the time. At first it was more attractive working for such a big company – it’s not until you start that you realize the benefit of different things. It was only today at induction that I realised the benefit of having all your exam exemptions sorted for you as part of the EY degree programme. Many graduates here will have to face that later on. Everything was laid out for us and very structured – even though we were doing work it definitely flowed easier because of this. One of the best things about EY is just the opportunities because I originally started in the Manchester office and at the time I just thought I wanted to work near home. After speaking with others – I thought the opportunity in London seemed more attractive. My end goal or next goal is to live and work abroad – possibly in New York – and this feels like the best department to realize the opportunity. That’s something EY would certainly promote – the mobility opportunities – there’s so many opportunities to do stuff. Even if there’s something not there at the moment – if you put it forward, someone will help to make it happen. It’s definitely friendly – the social aspects are really good at work. It really does help having those opportunities to bond and network with your team outside of work.

 

And what was it that drew you specifically to financial services?

Rhea Ghosal: The banking crisis. I really wanted to understand what everyone was talking about and trying to think of ways to ensure that never happened again. I know that sounds really corny but I was really annoyed by that, it really affected my family as well because when they moved their savings were depleted as a result of that. And I really didn’t think that was fair.

 

Looking back on your time with EY, what have been some of your proudest moments?

George Gibbings: I would say at a general level just being given the opportunity to work with so many big international firms – adding to what’s already been said – I always had a particular interest in how you measure somebody’s wealth which is why I went for wealth and asset management. The opportunity to tie in things that you think at university are purely theoretical and then seeing them in real life – so in my kind of area we look at various derivatives and that is quite a challenging area. Being given real projects to work on - even before you’re qualified – has given me a lot of responsibility. My highlight was leading a meeting for an international hedge fund manager – that was without any particular warning – so I walked in and they took us to the room and I had two people with me who were brand new to the firm – I had only worked there for about a year at the time – so I had just been given the responsibility and freedom to manage your own work. And at the same time the rewards are there for you to take from doing that. And then also as we’ve said – highlights regarding socials, and how the socials tie in with making it an effective workplace. And meeting many new people at EY that would be another highlight. People that you are going to interact with both in the short term and long term.

Callum Corneille: For me passing the exams was definitely a personal highlight of my time at EY. I think just seeing things in the world – like being able to explain to friends and family – what is actually happening because you understand it – rather than before looking at it from the outside in. Now I find it both interesting and I can actually understand it. It’s always nice when you’re out with friends and someone comments on the economy or business and you can understand and explain this in real terms. That just opens it up. The same when you’re in work it’s always good to get new opportunities to do risky things in the audit and being given that responsibility to learn that and going through those stages. I suppose the main highlight would also be getting accepted onto that course – getting that phone call!

Rhea Ghosal: I would agree with that, I think we definitely forget how lucky we were to have been accepted onto the course. We really underplay it.

George Gibbings: Sometimes we forget how many people actually applied at the time – as far as I understand it – when we applied there was an assessment day every Tuesday and Thursday – with about 30 people in attendance – so you sometimes at the time you weren’t aware of this. When I look back everything in my career was absolutely pivotal on getting onto this course.

Callum Corneille: You take it for granted, it becomes the norm – we’re here now at our fourth induction and it feels normal now with this view of Canary Wharf – the heart of financial services – which feels completely normal for us now but you don’t realize how lucky you are until you reflect on it. You sit there and think – last year I was in the Manchester office and I really wanted to get to London – and now I’m actually here. It’s amazing to look back on this.

Rhea Ghosal: I suppose for me at school I always thought that this was the profession I would eventually undertake but now that I’m here, it’s nice and feels right. And however demanding the course was, we all got through it together which makes me really proud of our journey. It just goes to show how hard it is to not only get in – but to stay!

George Gibbings: I think there’s a lot of support you get from the people – because they’ve worked with you and they know you – and as long as you’re very good at what you do – they want you to succeed. So they will actually defend you and speak up for you. It’s nice to feel like you belong to a wider team.  

Rhea Ghosal: My highlight is – I always talk about my team – I work for a really big client which I’ve had all year round and from my first placement to now I’ve always been on this main client and they’re literally like my second family now. We have a really good professional working relationship obviously – which we all contribute to – but we really are actual friends – So we’ll go out for drinks, have barbecues – and that’s been a  big highlight for me, actually becoming friends with my colleagues. That’s unique to EY because so many people are on the same level – there are no hierarchies or competitiveness – as opposed to industry where there’s a lot of focus, in my opinion, on individuals which can create an atmosphere of competition. Being on a team here is like belonging to a big family. It’s really unique.

Callum Corneille: It’s sometimes like working with your mates! You obviously work on really important engagements but it sometimes doesn’t even feel like work because you all get on so well.

 

And if you were to give advice to new students applying to EY today, what would your advice be?

George Gibbings: I would say, as simple as it sounds, put the work in and you’ll get what you want. I think the way in which – from our experience – the application was how the professional exams at school, how people are, I think it’s all very well structured. I don’t think I’ve ever – well it’s very rare – if you’ve put the right wok in, you haven’t received the end product that was sold. If you were to become a school leaver or graduate, I think you’ve got to show who you are as an individual – which comes with getting as many jobs as possible – but then specialising in a particular area because you are then the go-to person for that area or role and everybody gets on with you. But I’d just say firstly make sure it is what you want to do – because EY is such a big organization, even if what you initially apply to isn’t what you want to do in the long-term, there will always be an alternative role or area that you can apply to. Like my colleagues, who have moved cities or moved from UKI to Financial Services – it’s always possible if you have the drive there.

Callum Corneille: My main piece of advice would be from early on to be able to identify it will take work, you’ve got to put the graft in but the result will justify all of that. Looking back now, I can totally justify all of the work that I put in because I’m now joining our Financial services division as an Assurance consultant.  There were times when you’re sat there late following studies and you question everything but now you can see that all that hard work was worth it. You’ve got to have the right work ethic to see the long-term rewards, as you’re getting into EY, make yourself known more and increase your visibility. Put yourself forward for things, even if you think you can’t do it, just try it because people around you will support you towards that.

George Gibbings: You’ve got to have the attitude – for instance you might have one attitude where if you’re not booked you might just go oh I have a day off – but you should always look for opportunities because otherwise even if you get in, you won’t go anywhere without that great experience. As nice as the people are, you need to still challenge yourself and not just slow down. I’ve seen it with other students.

Rhea Ghosal: My advice is to learn more about the world around you. I speak to a lot of people – people who come in and they do a degree and think they know everything because of their degree. What they fail to recognize is you need to be knowledgeable across a lot of different topics to talk to a lot of different people. You need to really know not only your stuff but somebody else’ stuff I you want to get into their sector. Keep up to date with current events, when I did my partner interview he was quite impressed that I knew what was going on in the wider industry. Go beyond just memorizing fats about the firm. You need to know what you’re going into and what you can bring to that career.

Callum Corneille: You need to have goals in mind behind why you want to do everything. Do you want to work for EY? Understand WHY you want to join us and end up in this industry. That will motivate you towards doing other things, don’t just say EYs a big four firm, you need to go beyond the basics.

Rhea Ghosal: Bring something about yourself from outside of work – get to know your interviewer on a slightly more informal way. It gives you more of an identity rather than just another office drone. Unless you really love what you do, you’re not going to want to stay so do your research on both EY and the wider industry.

George Gibbings: You need to convince them about why you want that career, not just in general but specifically with EY. Be able to elaborate on why you’ve selected our firm above everything other professional services firm out there. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just regurgitate all of the corporate information you can find on the website. You need to be passionate about the field as well. Make sure that you’ve thought through it carefully, I’ve seen people who have joined one service line without having done the proper research. It’s amazing what people don’t know actually before joining.

Rhea Ghosal: Or what they think they know!

Callum Corneille: Speak to people and ask them questions before meeting with us. Get to know your interviewer as well and ask questions. People buy people. And don’t forget to have fun with it and showcase your personality!

 

What are your thoughts on this week’s induction?

George Gibbings: We’ve been to four inductions in our time at EY but I think this is the best one!

Callum Corneille: I’d agree. I’ve attended a few inductions in the past through the EY Degree programme but this has definitely been the best one. I really enjoyed the personal talks from various Partners, hearing about their experiences with the firm has been incredibly motivating. You realise just how talented our people are and how much of an impact we have on products and services that we all use every day.

George Gibbings: In this one people have shared their real life experiences. In the past it’s been very corporate – we are EY, this is what we do, this is what you’re going to be doing, etc. but this has been a lot more personal.For the people who are joining EY for the first time today, they now know the history and have received tips from new colleagues, I think everyone would be able to walk away from this event feeling very confident on their first day in the office. The induction teams have really refined their technique, the messaging is very strong this year.

Callum Corneille: I enjoy when the partners take the stage. Not that my goal is to become a Partner, but it is very motivating to hear their experiences and how they’ve progressed throughout the firm. We really are a people focused firm.

Rhea Ghosal: It humanises them as well – we have a tendency to view them as being very far removed from us graduates but events such as this make them seem a lot more approachable.

 

And a final question, what are you passionate about outside of work?

George Gibbings: Following Arsenal up and down the country! Watching sports, I would say keeping up with the news and industry trends because it does help at work. Meeting friends as well I suppose and just socialising.

Rhea Ghosal: I love travelling and I love eating. I love food! I also really enjoy listening to music and attending live gigs.

Callum Corneille: Standard really – going to the gym, playing football and making the most of holidays.

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