Nicola’s journey started when she participated in Company Programme during her time at sixth form in Oldham in 2016
Inspired by the idea of setting up her own business, she and her team developed a product called Drinksafe, a plastic lid for drinks cans aimed at preventing drink spiking. They successfully raised funds and sourced the product from the United States.
Their efforts led them to win the Oldham final and reach the Greater Manchester final of the Company Programme competition, where they secured third place. During this time, Nicola was nominated for the Student Journey Award, which she won at the Northwest Final and subsequently competed in the national final in London, where she came in second for the Journey Award.
It was during the Oldham final that Nicola caught the attention of Laura Smart, a Director at KPMG, who offered her the opportunity to do work experience at the firm. Intrigued by the idea, Nicola reached out to Laura and spent a week at KPMG’s office in Manchester, where she was exposed to different departments and professionals, solidifying her interest in pursuing a career in the business world.
While at KPMG, Nicola had a conversation with an apprentice, which sparked her interest in the firms apprenticeship programme. The six-year apprenticeship involved rotating through various departments, such as audit, tax, consulting, and advisory, to gain exposure to different areas of the business. After selecting a specialization, apprentices would focus on that area and pursue their professional qualifications.
Motivated by her experience in Young Enterprise and her time at KPMG, Nicola decided to embark on the apprenticeship programme. She started in October 2017 and completed her first three years, earning university-equivalent qualifications. Currently, Nicola is an Accounting Technician and is working towards becoming fully chartered, aiming to achieve this by November 2024.
As part of KPMG’s corporate social responsibility initiative, Nicola takes advantage of the 42 hours of volunteering time given to employees each year. She serves as a Schools Champion, working to bridge the gap between less socioeconomically advantaged areas and the diverse opportunities provided by KPMG.
Nicola and her colleagues partner with schools, particularly in towns like Oldham, to provide students with experiences and insights into the business world.
They organise activities similar to Young Enterprise, where students solve business challenges and present their solutions to a panel of judges from the firm. They also arrange talks by KPMG partners and representatives, giving students a glimpse into potential careers and inspiring them to aim high.
Nicola feels a strong connection to her local community and believes in the potential of students from less advantaged backgrounds. She wants to help them realise that their background should not limit their aspirations and that they can achieve their goals through effort and perseverance. Nicola’s involvement in KPMG’s initiatives and her personal success story serve as a source of inspiration for students, showing them that with determination and the right opportunities, they can excel in their chosen careers.
Nicola has witnessed the impact of programmes like Young Enterprise in developing skills beyond academic achievements. She emphasizes the importance of soft skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and effective communication, which are crucial in a professional setting.
These skills are often overlooked in traditional education, making programmes like Young Enterprise invaluable in preparing students for the workplace and making them stand out to potential employers.
Nicola’s success story has also influenced other students from her old school to pursue opportunities at KPMG. By sharing her experiences and giving talks at her alma mater, she has motivated and inspired others to aim for similar achievements. Nicola believes that these additional experiences and skills make individuals more attractive to employers, helping them stand out in a competitive job market.