Working abroad provides ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience for accounting alumna
Early in her career, accounting and Master of Accounting alumna Kristi Marks knew she wanted to pursue international opportunities.
“I can confidently say that Helsinki was not on the short list,” she said.
But after interning at two different Big 4 accounting firms and spending five years in Deloitte’s Kansas City office, Marks accepted an offer from the company to serve as a manager for a large multinational first-year audit in Helsinki, Finland.
Living and working in the country for the past year and a half has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, she says.
“It was really incredible to be able to experience Europe in the short amount of time I could before the pandemic hit, and I look forward to exploring more in the future whenever that is a possibility,” Marks added. “From a work perspective, it’s been really eye-opening to see the different work cultures and how we both strive to flex and adapt to each other. I also am getting the opportunity to work on my Finnish a little bit but can say as of right now it’s not very hyvä — which is ‘good’ in Finnish. However, it is quite fun to learn and try to use it in my day-to-day life.”
Every workday looks different for Marks, and the challenges of a first-year audit constantly keep her on her toes.
“This large engagement I am working on has 150-plus individuals from all over the world, and it really plays into my own personality quite well,” she explained. “I would say by nature I’m a people person, and getting to work in client service with all different types of personalities is an area I thrive in. I also really enjoy that I get to be a teacher and mentor to those on my engagement.”
Teaching was also a highlight of Marks’ time at the School of Business, where she served as a TA for ACCT 200 during her senior year and master’s program.
“I loved getting the opportunity to teach and to help introduce the world of the Big 4 accounting to my students, especially after I had completed my internships,” she said. “While the teaching part was definitely a favorite, I have to say that the experiences I had with my fellow teaching assistants rank just as high up there. The group of ACCT 200 and 201 TAs from my MAcc year are some of the best people I’ve ever met, and some remain my best friends to date.”
These days, Marks helps introduce business students to life in the accounting field post-graduation as a guest speaker and through the KU Mentoring platform. And when it comes to offering advice to students interested in working abroad, she keeps it simple: “Speak up and speak early!” Marks said.
She expressed her interested in working abroad less than year into her time at Deloitte, and the partner Marks talked to ended up personally asking her to join and help lead her current team in Helsinki.
“It is really crucial to speak up and own your career from the very beginning,” she adds.