Public Sector Risk Consultant in the KPMG Grants Centre of Excellence


Helen Jones was Highly Commended in the Apprentice of the Year category at the MCA Awards 2023.

I got into consulting completely by accident. After completing my A-Levels, I deferred my place at the University of Manchester to travel and take a break from academia. During my year out I helped a friend with their application for another Big 4 apprenticeship scheme and honestly, I had no idea there were even such things as professional apprenticeships – it was so eye opening to see the opportunities and experience you could get from world-class firms whilst also getting your qualifications! I started my BSc in ‘International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response’ as planned after my year out and despite loving the course, I knew I wanted to get straight into the workforce as soon as possible. I applied to the KPMG 360 Apprenticeship and upon getting the offer, I left university and headed up to Edinburgh. My initial intention was to just get my chartered accounting qualification and then use that to get a job at an NGO and carry on following my interest in the third sector. After a bit more research, I discovered there were teams that specialised in international development and managed to transfer and continue pursuing my interest areas as a consultant in KPMG, which is what I’m doing now.

On a day-to-day basis I travel in to either the KPMG Edinburgh office where I’m based (which has an amazing view of the castle) or the London office, depending on where I’m working that week. My clients are predominantly central government departments and I work with the internal teams who are delivering some of the government’s key international projects. These projects can be based anywhere in the world, but my main project is based in a number of African countries, focusing on cyber resilience. My role varies from helping design international development projects to the ongoing management and monitoring of existing projects. I also help review international NGOs to ensure they are compliant and carrying out the work their donors are paying for.

I really enjoy the variety of my work – one minute I’m working on a cyber programme in Nigeria, the next I’m looking at ocean biodiversity in the Philippines or renewable energy in India. I get to engage with lots of really interesting experts and see how KPMG and the government are implementing projects that are really beneficial to communities across the globe.

I’m still studying and have had 10 exams in the last 12 months and will have completed 23 exams in total as part of my apprenticeship – sometimes juggling work and study can be challenging but I don’t regret deciding to do an apprenticeship instead of staying at university.

My advice to anyone considering consulting or who is at the beginning of their consulting career is to seek out people that do work you find interesting. I could never have imagined I’d be to do the type of work I’m doing now in the private sector but speaking to lots of people and sharing my interests has opened lots of doors and experiences that I wouldn’t have got otherwise. People are really willing to give you a chance to work on projects you’re passionate about so be willing to put yourself forward and learn as much as possible from those around you.