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Ronan Breen


"After graduating from Queen’s University in June 2006 with a First Class Honours degree in Finance I joined KPMG Corporate Finance London on its graduate rotation scheme in October 2006.  I spent the first eight months in the Mergers & Acquisitions team and the following four years in the Valuations team.  During this period I spent five months on secondment with KPMG New York working on a major assignment with General Motors; as well as a nine month part time secondment with the Good Governance Forum where I helped to develop publications which were aiming to promote good corporate governance.  With KPMG I had the opportunity to work on numerous cross border assignments including projects in the U.S., Iceland, Germany, Spain, France and Dubai.  At KPMG I was promoted to Manager in 2010, however, I will be taking up an investment banking role with the Royal Bank of Canada from November 2011.

My degree in Finance helped me in mainly in three main ways:


·         The first is that I use on a day to day basis many of the concepts I studied during my degree such as valuation approaches, capital markets, financial engineering tools etc.  Moreover, subjects such as financial statement analysis are advantageous for working in an accounting firm and they gave me an advantage over colleagues who were starting ‘from scratch’. 


·         Secondly, is the internship year that formed the third year of my degree.  I spent this year with KPMG Corporate Finance Belfast and I got tremendous experience there.  In addition, it helped to clarify my own career ambitions and greatly aided my ability to source a permanent position with KPMG after graduation. 


·         Finally, my degree provided soft skills that probably still give me an edge over colleagues.  During my degree we were encouraged to be innovative within our presentations in order to give us an edge and this is something I try to implement to this day; particularly when pitching to prospective clients.


I managed to secure the Outstanding Achiever award at both Diploma and Advanced Diploma level of my postgraduate qualification (the ICAEW Corporate Finance Qualification) which is partially due to having covered a lot of the subject matter during my degree.  I was able to achieved early promotion on two occasions with KPMG (and I was made a member of their emerging leaders programme) which reflects the edge that my Finance degree gave me over my peers.


My advice to students undertaking this programme now would be try to source internship opportunities where possible – but be selective about who your intern with.  Consider an internship in London – you won’t regret it!


I would highly recommend a Finance degree at Queen’s. The class members I have remained in touch with have all been very successful in their working careers and this goes for acquaintances that pursued other degrees at Queen’s.  Queen’s students seem to be able to mould technical knowledge with common sense and entrepreneurship.  


I attended St Michael’s College, Enniskillen."