This article is a second of a two-part feature documenting tertiary students who found jobs at inclusive companies through SG Enable’s Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) Internship Programme and RISE Mentorship Programme. In this article, we learn about Daniel Nur Hakim Ismail’s experience on having a mentor at KPMG and doing an internship there.

From Mentee to Employee
Daniel (L) with his buddy, Adrian (R) (Photo credits: KPMG)

A good start
When Daniel took a chance on SG Enable’s 12-week RISE Mentorship Programme in 2018, he did not have any expectations.

“I was a little skeptical of applying for the mentorship because I had never applied before, but I thought: why not just give it a shot? There’s no harm, and it’s specifically for disabled persons.” Little did he know that this opportunity would connect him with Tea Wei Li, a partner at KPMG, and eventually lead to a full-time job upon graduation.

Wei Li, who works in KPMG’s Risk Consulting department, turned out to be the ideal mentor for Daniel, who was seeking opportunities in risk consultancy. Daniel said Wei Li “approached [him] both as a KPMG partner and mentor”, giving him multiple perspectives which served as invaluable guidance for both his career and personal development.

Already on the first session, she pushed him to think about his future career path, questioning his reasons for wanting exposure in the Big Four despite also being interested in the aviation industry. She also advised him on career planning, teaching him how to set short-term benchmarks for himself in our rapidly changing world.

Through the mentorship, Wei Li saw Daniel’s capabilities and offered him an internship opportunity, allowing him to gain invaluable real work experience not only in risk consulting, but also in a Big Four firm.

A second family
Despite having no sensation in his legs due to Guillain-Barré syndrome, Daniel’s physical disability had no implication on his work quality, with the company being more than willing to accommodate his needs. From the allocation of tasks to ensuring the availability of halal options for him at team lunches, it was evident right from the beginning that inclusivity is deeply ingrained in the KPMG ethos.

With only 13 people in the Enterprise Risk Management team he was working in, Daniel’s team was especially close and family-like. Adrian, a senior associate, was assigned as Daniel’s buddy to keep track of his learning and welfare, which helped him integrate well into the team.

The personal relationship he had already built with his mentor, Wei Li, was extremely integral to enhancing his internship experience, Daniel said. Already knowing someone in the company who knew his concerns “made [him] feel like he truly belonged,” vis-à-vis other internships that “usually hire through mass hires and would not consider your needs.” For instance, after he shared that colleagues in his previous work attachments would speak in Mandarin, which he did not understand, Wei Li made the conscious effort to alert his KPMG colleagues whenever they did the same.

A valued contributor
Although Daniel studied accountancy and finance in university, he was looking towards other related areas such as risk advisory for a change. “Risk is something applicable to the everyday. It is ever-changing. You have to work outside the box and think differently.”

During the internship, he proved himself to be a competent and innovative worker, improving on the current frameworks and processes in the workplace. “I developed some prototype dashboards which they are intending to use in their future proposals and monetized the service for the department.”

KPMG commented that other than developing technically, gaining more knowledge on KPMG’s products and services, Daniel had also developed professionally to become a more confident risk consultant.

An inclusive company
KPMG’s Human Resource department was especially hands-on, approachable, and willing to help.  “While we were aware of his disability, we chose to focus on his potential and abilities,” KPMG remarked.

In one instance, an event-based job with considerable travelling was assigned to another intern, and Daniel was tasked with the doing the dashboard for data analytics, something less physically strenuous. By allocating tasks according to his strengths, KPMG was able to effectively capitalize on Daniel’s skills without any impact on his productivity.

Working with Daniel has reaffirmed his colleagues’ belief that “disabilities will not affect one’s ability to perform. It is the good attitude towards work and the willingness to learn that make one stand out,” said KPMG.