Alumna Kati Ovaska: No one is ready after they graduate – the work itself teaches you more

I would argue that there is no better start to your career than being an associate in audit practice says Kati Ovaska who has had multiple work opportunities within the company after graduation. EY encourages people to take the steering wheel of their career: 'Your career, it’s yours to build'.

Kati’s alumna story is part of a co-project between School of Business and its Premium Partners Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC to open up the role and tasks of an Auditor. The role that was previously doomed as a dying role, but in reality, is now facing a shortage of manpower. These Accounting Alumni Stories will be published in October and November 2021.
Kati Ovaska
Kati Ovaska.

Who are you? What did you study at Aalto University School of Business and when did you graduate?

My name is Kati Ovaska and I work as Senior Manager in Audit Services at EY. My major in Aalto University School of Business was Financial Accounting and my minor during my master’s studies was Business Law. My exchange studies in ESADE Barcelona became my minor for my bachelor’s degree. In ESADE, I mostly wanted to study Leadership since it was also an option for my major. I graduated in 2013.

What does your work include?

A good but challenging question since every day is different, but in general my work includes leading global and local audit teams, maintaining client cooperation and facilitating internal and external training. One could say that certain processes are similar, but since our clients are different there is no “one size fits all” solution. And that makes auditing interesting! With increased digitalization, we have been able to ask right questions already beforehand which makes auditing more proactive rather than just reactive. New tools and ways of working have enabled us to focus on material issues and tailor our services better, which has supported our mission to build trust on markets.

What has your career path been like?

I started my career at EY as an audit trainee during my studies in 2012. My career is a testament to how much I have enjoyed my time at EY which offers new challenges whenever I long for them. After my trainee period, I worked in the Human Capital department of our Tax Services for a year. Once I returned to the Audit practice, I spent one financial year in our Stockholm office being part of global group audits. I hold education and training close to my heart. I have worked as Learning Leader at EY Finland and lectured Group Accounting course at Aalto University. I have followed the EY advice “Your career, it’s yours to build”.

Increased digitalization has enabled to ask right questions already beforehand which makes auditing more proactive rather than reactive.

Kati Ovaska, School of Business alumna and Senior Manager in Audit Services at EY.

What would you say is the most important thing in studies?

The most important thing during your studies and work life is to be honest to yourself and take part in things that you are truly interested in. For me it was clear that I wanted to gain international experience by doing an exchange. I also think it’s important to network and enjoy your time at university. To balance my studies, I had fun with the KY Speksi crew for several years. Speksi is a project that simulates the financial year of company with recruiting, budgeting and preparing financial statements, just to mention few. I was also a member of the KY representative council and KY Foundation’s supervisory board. I learned a lot about meeting protocols and I got to guide and monitor the way the boards worked. All these experiences have helped me understand how business works. I also gained many acquaintances whom I have since run into at work.

The studies themselves shouldn’t be forgotten. I encourage to choose courses and subjects that you really like – be brave to take detours on your journey towards the finish line!

What are the most important skills in working life?

One can always gain technical substance knowledge at every stage of their career, but attitudes toward work are harder to change. Therefore, I would say that the most important skills are to be flexible, open to change and keep learning new things.

What are the most important qualities of a leader?

It cannot be underlined enough that a good leader equals a well-functioning team. One of the most important qualities in a leader is the ability to build a well-balanced and knowledgeable team. Someone once said you should hire better people than you are since you cannot or don’t have to know everything yourself. A leader does not micromanage but creates a trusting atmosphere by listening, cheering and motivating people towards the desired outcome. Leading by example - making your actions and thoughts visible.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Passing the HT-Auditor and Authorized Public Accountant exams have been clear highlights and achievements in my career that I am proud of. On the other hand the time I spend in Stockholm meant a lot to me: using Swedish as a professional language, working in a different culture, stepping into leading teams and broadening my networks brought new perspective to my profession as an auditor.

Your advice to students who are considering auditing as a potential career path and tips for working life?

It helps if you make sure that you pass certain courses during your studies in case you want to become an auditor. However, I would say that the choices you make are not final and all kinds of studies are beneficial. No one is ready after they graduate – the work itself teaches you more.

I would argue that there is no better way to start your career than being an associate in audit practice: you are able to experience different kinds of companies and gain broad knowledge on what the figures behind financial statements really mean. Our digital tools such as data analysis and automation make it possible to focus on essential information and interesting tasks already in the beginning of your career.

What are your expectations for the future?

When you have set the cornerstones of your career and accumulated a certain level of knowledge, you generally find ourselves asking the question: does my work matter and how am I contributing to society? I hope that I can be part of building a better working world by being a discussion companion who challenges her clients and a leader who supports her teams. I am also sure that my desire to constantly learn and set new goals won’t fade – time will tell where I found myself.

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School of Business alumni stories

Here you can find School of Business alumni stories. Our alumni share their professional journeys and give advice and tips regarding working life. The stories have been sorted based on the alumni's majors. The newest publications are placed first in the major groups.

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The Master’s Programme in Accounting prepares students for producing and using financial and non-financial information to control and manage companies. Accounting, whether financial accounting or management accounting, is at the heart of every business and a critical part of planning and decision-making in companies. Accounting graduates possess invaluable and highly universal know-how for succeeding in different organisations across all industries and continents.

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