Born and bred in Bolton, I attended the Girls’ Division from 1990 until 1997 and after GCSEs, studied A Levels in History, English Language, Mathematics and Business Studies. Destined to become a primary school teacher, I had a last minute change of heart prior to my UCAS form submission and instead went on to obtain a Management Science degree from The University of Manchester (formerly UMIST). My degree led to a chance milkround meeting with KPMG and the realisation that accountancy is as much about people and relationships as it is about numbers. I joined KPMG’s graduate training scheme in Manchester in September 2000 with an ambition to qualify professionally and stay for as long as the firm kept me motivated and challenged – more than 15 years on and I can honestly say it’s never let me down!
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2003 and went on to benefit from the huge range of opportunities on offer across KPMG. Commitment, drive and enthusiasm – not forgetting sheer hard work! – helped me to rise quickly through the ranks and I was incredibly proud to be appointed as Partner in the UK firm on 1st October 2014.
My first year of partnership brought with it another promotion and more recently, I was appointed as Head of our Internal Audit practice in the UK. Having begun my career in the Financial Services practice and previously led KPMG’s Internal Audit business in that sector, I have over 15 years’ experience providing assurance, risk and governance services to clients. A Fellow Chartered Accountant, I am a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and work with a wide variety of national and international organisations. I am also a member of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors and represent the UK firm on KPMG’s Global Internal Audit leadership team.
I am also an active supporter of KPMG’s Network of Women and lead on a number of Women in Business initiatives across the UK. As a young female partner and mentor, I know the importance of senior role models to help encourage talented, ambitious women to stay and reach the top in KPMG.
Through the firm, my involvement with Bolton School continues. Having established the scheme over five years ago, I continue to develop and lead KPMG’s flagship work placement and sponsorship programme with school.
I met my future husband Steven Vernon whilst working part time in Bolton during my final year of university and following a ten year engagement, we finally married in December 2011 (courtesy of my much more organised family who kindly planned the wedding!). After a Church service in Darcy Lever, we held our wedding reception in the Arts Centre where many of my oldest and closest friends from school joined us to celebrate. A ballroom dancer from the age of four, I am not only a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan but also a keen (though still aspiring!) pianist and enjoy the gym.
Bolton is still very much home though with a London-based role at KPMG, I now divide my time between Harwood and an apartment in Canary Wharf.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
I was the first and only member of my family so far to attend Bolton School from the age of 11 having completed my primary education at Masefield CP School in Little Lever. I was particularly proud to be able to invite my former primary school teacher to my new school early in my first Third Form term (now Year 7) for afternoon tea to sample the culinary delights of my home economics class. I wasn’t quite so proud of the Victoria Sandwich I produced that day – it failed to rise, tasted even worse than it looked and was a general disappointment (to my Mum in particular who is a whizz in the kitchen). I’m sorry to say my cookery skills haven’t improved at all over time! On my promotion to KPMG Partner, the Class of 2014 marked the occasion with a once in a lifetime celebration in Paris and Champagne – a celebration that included an 18th century French palace hotel, helicopters to Reims, a famous Champagne House and its magnificent ‘crayères’ and private tour and dinner by candle light in The Louvre, complete with Italian opera serenade. However the Michelin starred French Chef who took us for a cookery class on our final morning quickly got the measure of me (and my knife skills..) – and I was relegated to pouring wine and selecting ‘pretty’ walnuts to decorate the starter. Enough said!
So whilst I had no prior connection to school in 1990, I have maintained my connection ever since. I am thrilled at the success of KPMG’s sponsorship programme with Bolton School and the range of personal development opportunities we are able to offer to pupils. The Bolton School brand is undoubtedly well recognised – from the number of alumni past and present who have worked at KPMG across the UK through to the Old Boy and Girl connections that are present in the boardrooms in which I work. You can’t help but be proud to be associated with such a superb institution.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
Without doubt, the Ceremony of Carols. The traditional solo opening for Once In Royal David’s City, Christmas Angels decorating The Great Hall and Peter Cornelius’ unforgettable Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar. Christmas was never Christmas without any of it. Even now, I make every effort to be back home in Bolton on that particular school night in December so I can be there.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
There are many I could mention but Sandra Heap (my history teacher throughout my seven years at School who went on to be Head of History prior to her retirement) was a great inspiration – vibrant, impactful, full of encouragement and a real people person. Not to mention Manchester United’s biggest fan!
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
Bolton School gave me the ambition to reach the top, the academic firepower and confidence to succeed and the life skills to stay true to myself and keep my feet on the ground.
Today I am proud to lead KPMG’s relationship with Bolton School and my motivation is very simple – I want to give something back.
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
The same advice I’ve always tried to follow:
Grab every opportunity and do your very best with it.
Recognise the importance of self-belief – if you are prepared to work hard, anything is possible.
Most importantly of all, be yourself.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
The 100 Campaign is marvellous. Bolton School is a special place that has helped generations of Boltonians from all backgrounds realise their talents and achieve success. The testimonies of those pupils who have benefited are powerful proof that the opportunity provided by school should be available to any talented child in Bolton, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay the fees.