Alumni Q&A: Kiki Dallao, KPMG

TCU MBA '14 Kiki Dallao transitioned from the education field to consulting and is now a senior associate in the advisory business of KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax, and advisory services. Below, she offers details on her day-to-day responsibilities, how she was able to switch career paths and industries with the help of the Neeley School of Business and provides advice for those looking to pursue consulting.

Tell us a little bit about KPMG as a company, your position and how you got the job.

I am a senior associate in the KPMG advisory business. Within the advisory group there’s management consulting, risk consulting and deal advisory. Management consulting has a number of subgroups that cross industry and function such as IT, financial services, people and change and more. Some client projects are specific to one function but most are cross-functional, with consultants from multiple areas working together to solve a problem.

My advice below includes assuming you are on a constant two-year interview while in the MBA program because that’s the truth. Through working with Neeley & Associates, students are lucky enough to meet and work with professionals in the consulting industry. We interact with these people over a series of meetings, workshops and presentations throughout our two years in school. You never know when you’ll need to ask these people for advice or for an introduction or something else. There was an opening at KPMG in the spring of 2014, and I applied. The combination of my Neeley & Associates experience, my skill set, ability, education, the relationships I’d built over two years, timing and sheer luck enabled me to get the job.

What is a typical day like in your role?

There isn’t really a typical day. Your work on a daily or monthly basis depending on who your client is and the scope of their issues. I’ve had three different clients since I started working at KPMG in August of 2014. All three were very different cases. The constant in consulting is change, being able to adapt to a new client, a new team and a new engagement manager, as well as being flexible and working with little clear direction. You may be doing analysis in a spreadsheet, developing a presentation deck, writing a procedure document or running workshops for the client. Regardless, you have to be flexible, be a problem solver and always be a team player.

What makes consulting a great field to work in?

Consulting is like an extended MBA — it’s constantly challenging and educating me. Each project is basically another business case like we had in class except it’s live and real. Businesses are reliant on us to give them answers or suggestions or information they didn’t have before. Also, I’m working with intelligent, driven and collaborative consultants at KPMG. We all support each other and work as a team to fulfill our clients’ needs.

What were you doing prior to getting your MBA and how did Neeley help transition careers?

Before TCU, I was a high school English teacher and coach (volleyball and basketball). I was looking for a different work environment, as I had been involved with education and athletics my entire life (college athlete and careers after college) and was ready for a new challenge. But I’ve always loved team sports, and consulting is kind of a team sport in the business arena. I knew other people who were consultants and thought it was a good fit for my personality and talents. Thankfully, through TCU, I was able to participate in Neeley & Associates, where I gained more knowledge about consulting through experience doing projects with actual clients, and I met people in the consulting industry who shared their wisdom, experience and network. All of that led me to my job at KPMG!

How has Neeley set you up for success?

Neeley & Associates gave me experience doing the work and provided me the confidence that I can do the work. I also gained experience working with clients, figuring out how to ask the right questions to get the information I need and how to rely on and support my team.

The TCU Career Center went above and beyond helping me polish my resume, offering tips on how to present yourself in an email and on paper and building my confidence for any interview setting.

My classmates from TCU helped me succeed in school and beyond, and we continue to encourage each other. The network of people I met during those two years offers a wealth of knowledge and support.

What is your advice for students transitioning into consulting?

Get started learning and networking as early as you can. Do business cases, go to networking events, talk to people (not just your classmates)! You never know who you’ll meet at an event or who’s paying attention to your presentation. Pretend you are always interviewing!

Participate in Neeley & Associates! It is the best test you can give yourself to know if consulting is right for you.

Learn to LISTEN actively. Asking questions is important, but you have to listen well to know what questions to ask.

As a Neeley alumni, how do you feel you’re bringing value to your organization?

I’m serving my client, I’m working within my team, I’m helping to see problems from a new angle and put solutions together in a way that wasn’t thought of before. Consulting is more than just solving that one problem the client brought you in for; it’s doing that and more. Becoming a trusted advisor to your client and going above and beyond so that when they need help or input again, they know they can trust you (and KPMG) to deliver.

Within KPMG, we learn from each other, so each new project has the potential to create new knowledge, new processes or new lenses to view the next project and be successful. I am one small part of this constant education and evolution in how to do work smarter, faster and better.

Finally, how have remained connected to Neeley and its MBA students, and why do you feel this is important? 

I’ve gone back to speak on some panels for various classes and clubs, and I’m still involved with the women’s MBA group within Neeley. I participate with Neeley & Associates when I can. I want to stay connected because I know that many people helped me be successful and instilled the confidence to do this, and I want to be able to pay back that favor. The people at TCU and Neeley are just so spectacular. The students are surrounded by caring and supportive people, and I want to be one of those people for future classes. What helps one Horned Frog, helps all!

Are you looking to make a career change? Learn more about the Neeley School of Business or apply now

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