Life at PKF

Dan’s story: Summer internship, graduate programme, internal secondment and beyond

Dan Bowden initially joined us for a summer internship during his third year at University of Nottingham and then returned a year later to start his journey on our ACA graduate programme. After qualifying in November 2022, Dan is now a Manager in our Financial Services division, specialising in consumer credit, and has just finished a six-month internal secondment.

I first came across PKF in an accountancy magazine when looking for work experience during my time at university. I applied to join the summer internship programme, hoping for the best, and made it on to the scheme! The internship gave me a great insight to PKF’s culture and showed me first-hand what it would be like working at one of the UK’s largest accountancy brands.

As my internship ended, I was encouraged to apply for the firm’s graduate scheme the following year. I was accepted and moved to London, which was very exciting. I was struck by how sociable everyone at PKF was. I didn’t know very many people in London when I moved, but I was able to get to know so many people across the business and make new connections; I’ve made some close friends as a result. PKF helped with that as there are so many activities organised for people to come together and get to know each other!

During my time as a trainee, the work-life balance could be hard to maintain at times – but it was most definitely worth it! The hardest part was juggling work and exams. Once the exams were done, it was a completely different experience. I was supported throughout the process by managers and mentors, and they helped me to navigate situations that I hadn’t yet experienced. For example, I was really bad at saying ‘no’ initially, which meant that I was working longer days, and I was helped to set boundaries. If there was a advice I could give – “People would rather you say no and give a reason, than say yes and not do it!”.

Immediately after receiving my final ACA exam results, I began my six-month internal secondment in the Technical and Compliance team, taking on corporate reporting queries, auditing queries, report reviews, preparation of guidance materials – the list goes on!

Having learnt so much during the secondment, my next objective is to become an Audit Manager. The secondment gave me valuable skills, helping me to improve my technical knowledge, as well as my people skills. I was also able to develop my training skills as I gave regular internal presentations and prepared a range of training materials. The team was fantastic with guiding and supporting me throughout.

I now have training sessions scheduled to help me work out how I can get to where I want to be, and how I can further develop my skills. There are so many opportunities here and there’s a real focus on personal and professional development. There’s perhaps a perception in the industry as a whole that your professional growth slows down once you get to Manager level, but that’s not the case at PKF. This is made clear by the variety of training programmes in place and the number of people that attend – all levels of seniority get involved – and I find that really motivating.

My role at PKF is more than just a job to me because I get to interact with different people every day, and I love that. Whether it be with colleagues, clients or contacts, I’m able to build relationships with such a variety of people. It’s so much more than just a desk job.

PKF is a place where I feel valued. The firm is continuously growing and is always giving back to its people. I’m proud to say that I work in a place where I feel heard, and I actually see change. A great example of that is the weekly ‘How’s it going’ survey that is sent to everyone in the firm asking for feedback. So many changes have been made as a result of the survey to make our office a better place for everyone. The firm is always looking for people’s views and people are always encouraged to be themselves.