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.
Alumna Katri Kaitila: Of the skills I learned in my time at the School of Business, I consider the basics I learned in accounting courses to be the most important
Katri’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 Accountant/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.
How did you end up in the audit industry?
I started studying at Aalto University School of Business right after upper secondary school in 2013. I ended up choosing accounting as my major, which out of all the subjects had felt the most like my thing when studying for my entrance exams. Even at that stage, it was clear that for me, auditing was one prospective career option and that I wanted to have the chance to challenge myself in the industry by completing a traineeship. In my fourth year of study in the autumn of 2016, I ended up applying to PwC for a trainee programme and soon after, in January 2017, I started working!
Straight away having started as a trainee, I was really excited about how many like-minded people I met among the other trainees. The substance of the work was excellent as well – I was able to join in on client projects within my first week. The work was immersive from the start and my skills and ideas were trusted.
After my four-month trainee period, I got a permanent position from PwC. As I was still studying, I was able to organize things flexibly so that I worked part-time and could take time off to write my master's thesis.
What does your day-to-day work entail? What kinds of skills do you need in your position?
I currently work at PwC in Private Company Services as a manager. I have a very diverse body of clients, ranging from well-known family-run corporations to startups, as well as a listed company and some foundations. My day-to-day work entails guiding and planning the work of my audit team members, as well as a lot of communication with my clients. At this level, I already have a lot of responsibility for the progress of our work, reporting to client management, and the profitability of assignments. In practice, a large part of the work we do is problem-solving with our teams and clients. You must have the right attitude and good nerves.
One of the most important skills in my role is a strong understanding of accounting and corporate law, as well as industry standards. Of the skills I learned in my time at the School of Business, I consider the basics I learned in accounting courses to be the most important, because the basic information about income statements, balance sheets and the basic principles of accounting really do take you far!
Auditing is essentially project work, and, at an early stage, project management skills become paramount in one’s day-to-day work. In addition to mastering Excel, it’s important to master the basics of business communication, for example, as assignments involve a lot of communication with clients or foreign teams.
Katri Kaitila, School of Business alumna and Audit Manager at PwC
In practice, a large part of the audit work we do is problem-solving with our teams and clients.
What are the best aspects of your work?
People are definitely the best thing about this job. At work, I’ve managed to find a close circle of friends that I spend a lot of time with outside of the workplace. When I think about the time before COVID-19, I especially miss the moments spent with my team and clients.
I also find it important that at PwC, there are clear goals set for everyone and you are well supported in going about achieving them! Responsibilities naturally increase from year to year as you gain experience.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Becoming an Authorized Public Accountant last year was a significant achievement. Taking the exam required a lot of studying over the summer holidays, and there is no guarantee you’ll pass even if you do study. Studying for the exam really deepened my knowledge in the subject matter.
In addition, over the past couple of years I’ve specialized in data analytics used in auditing work. I got to lead a project in which dozens of auditors are trained to complete various types of analysis for auditing assignments. I believe that, going forward, these types of technologies will be central to the industry, and that is why it has been great to be involved in thinking about how to make these new tools effective.
What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your studies?
I’d like to remind myself at the beginning of my studies that during my studies I could have studied more subjects outside of my own “stream”. With auditing in mind, I studied a lot of corporate law, which has been helpful. As my responsibilities have increased, I’ve become more and more interested in various management theories and studies in finance. I would encourage myself to be bold and choose studies from a variety of fields!
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.