Phil succeeds at Ernst & Young

Name: Philip O. Sarthou

Course: MSc Corporate and International Finance

Graduated: 2009

Nationality: USA/Haitian

Employer: Ernst & Young, London

Current position: Assurance Associate, Mining, Oil & Gas and Utilities

I currently work for Ernst & Young in London. I work in MOGU (Mining, Oil & Gas and Utilities) as part of the Assurance team and am studying towards the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) ACA qualification.

The main reasons why I picked Durham were the collegiate system and the campus atmosphere. Durham is a fantastic place to study and the experience I had was wonderful. I went to Hatfield College and it really allowed me to integrate and get a feel of British culture and make lots of friends. I can’t speak highly enough of my college experience.

My course involved quite a lot of contact hours compared to other courses. The Durham Business School academic staff were very approachable and being able to speak to those that had written the theory we were applying was an excellent experience. I always felt I could ask questions when I didn’t properly understand something which was very useful for subjects such as econometrics.

Durham University provides endless opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities. I was a committed member of Hatfield College Association Football Club. I also tried out new activities such as the Clay Pigeon Club and learnt how to shoot (not very well though). In addition I was part of Durham University Investment and Finance Group, taking part in the Fund Team. This was great fun while also being instructive as we managed a portfolio of £7,000 that our sponsors had provided.

Ernst & Young’s fantastic reputation attracted me to apply. Although I had offers from other “Big Four” firms, I picked EY because of the people I met during my assessment centre. I felt that it was an environment in which I could really learn and grow to be an exceptional professional. Finally, EY is, in my opinion, the most internationally integrated “Big Four” firm, especially thanks to the EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa Area) structure. Having an international background myself, I found that particularly interesting.

As an audit associate I spend most of my time ensuring that the financial statements of my clients show a true and fair view of their financial position and performance. The first year was quite intense as you are thrown in the deep end and have to juggle work and studying. However, the second year is much more enjoyable as you start to gain a better understanding of what you do and get the opportunity to take on more challenging work as you audit more challenging accounts and get involved in the actual planning of the audit.

My experience at Durham helped as it meant that I had a much better understanding of the cultural habits in this country. Also, because Ernst & Young is very keen on hiring Durham graduates, I have met quite a few Durham alumni here and this has helped me develop my network further. In addition, the theoretical knowledge that I acquired as part of my degree has helped me understand the bigger picture and how the work that I perform fits into our audit strategy. Overall my Durham experience provided me with strong evidence for the rigorous selection process which included a first interview, assessment centre and a final partner interview.

I advise current students to get involved in as much as possible and to make the most of their free time because you’ll miss that when you start work! Getting any sort of experience managing something is very useful when it comes to graduate applications, so I would definitely recommend leading a society of some kind.


John moves to BarCap

Name: John Poothicote

Qualification: MSc Finance &


Graduated: 2006

Nationality: Indian

Employer: Barclays Capital

 I was part of the MSc Finance and Investment class of 2005 and graduated in 2006. Subsequently I joined Deloitte, the professional services firm. I spent 3 years with Deloitte and found it to be a fantastic place to work in. I was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager in Audit and completed the ACA qualification. Subsequent to this, I decided to seek a new challenge and moved to Barclays Capital, the investment banking wing of Barclays Bank in London, as an Analyst in FX Exotics Risk. My work is largely based around analysing the macro economic factors and looking at how they affect the positions of various trading desks.

The first time I applied to Deloitte, my application was rejected. This prompted me to visit the Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre to find out what the issue was. What I found was that while I had a broad range of skills from my various experiences, including the very fact that I was in a country different to mine and that I managed to get involved in part time jobs/extra curricular activities, I was failing to put them across convincingly in my application. This may have been primarily because in India, we use the CV to apply for a job while in the UK the employers place a lot of importance on the application to draw out specific examples of traits that they look for. While I did have those traits, the examples that I used were not good enough to convince the employers that I had them. I was able to correct this by making use of the Careers Centre and attending recruitment events of potential employers.

I also gained contacts at various companies by attending recruitment events organised by the Centre. They were able to guide me in exactly what the firms were looking for. I also realised that potential employers expect you to have a good understanding of what the role you are applying towards entails. Conversations with people who are already doing what you want to do are crucial in this regard.

The opportunities for international students from outside the EU are limited because of the fact that they need work permits which the employer needs to obtain on their behalf. From my experience, only the big employers usually get you this. Also since the time I joined Deloitte, the economic/political environment has changed and I would imagine there is pressure on the number of graduate places/work permits available. But the fact remains that there are opportunities for people who show potential. Firms place a lot of importance on diversity and regularly employ students from outside the EU. They obtain work permits for those who require them. However due to the limited number of places and because of the time involved in getting a work permit you should apply as early as possible.

I can say that for both my employers the work challenges you and what you believe you are capable of. You are driven and pushed to be the best you can be. However, ultimately, it will be your interest in what you do (or want to do!) and your passion to excel that will differentiate you from others. This is true from my experience and I am sure this will be the case in your application too!

Opportunities with Deloitte in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South East Asia

Durham University is one of the few institutions in the Deloitte Global Universities Program

Angel, Tommy and Vivien on the path to success

This matches top international students from select universities with career opportunities in their home country or another location of interest.

Last years’ successful Durham applicants include Angel Chan, Tommy Poon and Vivien Tse, all from Hong Kong. They were all accounting and finance undergraduate students at Queen’s Campus involved in extra-curricular activities as well as their studies. This is what they advise:

Angel – ‘Get involved in societies and be confident’

Tommy – ‘Show the employer what you have learnt while you were at Durham. The Careers Centre presentations and Skills for Success programme can help you to prepare’

Vivien – ‘Join societies to help your language skills and to adapt to UK life’

Deloitte are currently recruiting students to join member firms in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand where opportunities are available to start in Autumn 2012 in Audit, Tax, Enterprise Risk Services, Consulting and Financial Advisory. Opportunities are available in Taiwan in Audit.

As a minimum requirement, they are looking for students who are eligible to work in their country of interest and are fluent in the local language. If you are looking for a career in one of these areas and would like to find out more about these opportunities please visit 

 Application deadlines are:

14th November 2011 for China and Hong Kong

 30th November 2011 for South East Asia

31st December 2011 for Taiwan 

Deloitte recruiters from overseas will conduct interviews at UK offices soon after the deadlines.

Michalski Makes the Moves

Name: Derek Michalski 

Degree: MA Marketing

Graduated: 2011

Nationality: American

Current position: Buyer, General Mills Worldwide Sourcing

Attending Durham Business School opened many doors for me and allowed me to accomplish many exciting things. In my year at Durham I was able to study alongside a very worldly cohort and be introduced to eager young professionals from all over the world.

On the international stage, I found out immediately that a Durham degree was very sought after by many different kinds of professional fields. Every week there were major multi-national companies on campus for recruitment engagements. I knew immediately that the place I was studying was special, and would be very helpful when it came time to begin my professional career.

There are no shortage of activities on campus, and all are welcoming to new participants. There is seemingly endless space to take advantage of the outdoors– with the university’s many playing fields and courts, wooded trails, and recreational facilities. I was fortunate enough to participate on the University Men’s Lacrosse Team with an incredible group of young men, and represent the University in winning a BUCS National Championship. This will always be one of my fondest memories of my time in Durham.

Upon completion of my studies at Durham Business School I was able to land a job immediately with a Fortune 100 company and one of the world’s largest food companies at General Mills. It is my belief that my experience living internationally and conversations regarding my postgraduate studies abroad is a major contributing factor to what made my story unique from other prospective candidates. For that, I am very appreciative of the program and look forward to the day that I will be able to return to Durham.

If you are an overseas student looking for a challenging course of study in an environment that is both very different than what you are accustomed to and unsurpassed in terms of its scenic beauty and historical significance—than look no further than Durham University.

Dr Linda – CEO of Develop Global Ltd

Name: Dr (Linda) Hui Yang

Nationality: Chinese

Degree: PhD in Intercultural Studies

Graduation year: 2011

Job: Chief Executive Officer

Employer: Develop Global Ltd (UK)

I have just completed my PhD study at the School of Education, Durham University this summer. I am now a proud Dr!

Becoming a Dr signifies the new beginning for the future. Before graduation in 2011, I set up my own company, Develop Global Ltd, which provides intercultural training and consultancy. My company is based in Durham and I am very much excited and confident about it because this allows me to make full use of my professional and personal strengths!

Looking back, one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life is to pursue a PhD degree at the School of Education, Durham University. I have learned and grown so much both as a researcher and as an international citizen.

I have received an enormous amount of support from my department both academically and financially. All administrative and academic staff in my department are so friendly and always ready to help. Throughout my PhD years, the experience of working on my research project with my supervisors, two excellent academics in intercultural studies and higher education, has been truly inspiring. With their support and encouragement, I had presented in both national and international conferences and acted as research assistant in two international research projects focused on international students studying in the UK

In addition to advance myself as a researcher, while ensuring the good quality of my research, I devoted myself to extra-curricular activities for my personal development. I need to point out that without the support from Ustinov College and my supervisors, many of my ideas and initiatives would not have come true. In my first year of PhD study, I founded Ustinov Intercultural Forum (UIF) which aims to promote cultural awareness, integration and personal development among all in Durham University and beyond. I acted as founding president for three years during which I initiated and led many projects such as Cultural Day (annual event at Ustinov College since 2006), Durham Intercultural Dialogue (coordinated with Durham County Council, 2008), Creative Cultural Diversity (three-month event in June 2009) and the Working Abroad Career Fair (coordinated with the Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre, Durham University). From 2006 to 2009, in addition to UIF, I acted as Postgraduate Research Students Representative (School of Education), Students’ Representative of the Chinese Association of North East England, International Students’ Representative (Ustinov College), Clubs & Societies Representative/Career Centre Liaison (Ustinov College) and Social Secretary of Ustinov Rugby Club.

In 2008, I applied successfully for the intern post to work in the section of Intercultural Dialogue, Culture Sector at UNESCO headquarters in Paris for three months. That was such an inspiring and valuable experience for me because I have experienced and learned so much from the unique on-going intercultural dialogue with people who are from different cultural backgrounds and work with me on the same platform where I could apply both of my professional strengths and other essential competencies.

Throughout my PhD years in Durham, I have got much recognition from Durham University and beyond. In 2008, I recieved the Outstanding Student Contribution award from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health. In 2009, Ustinov College awarded me Outstanding Contribution to Intercultural Communication. In the same year, I was the North-East Regional Runner-up of Shine! The International Student Awards.  Also in 2009, Ustinov Intercultural Forum (UIF) was recognised as Best International Students Society.

Among all, the biggest recognition that I have achieved is the PhD degree from Durham University. This degree is not only the recognition of academic achievement, but also, the recognition of my personal growth, a transformation from a Chinese student to an international citizen.

Durham University provides me with an education. It’s an education for life.

Namali’s RBS success

Name: Namali Goonetillake

Course and year:

BA Economics

(final year)

Nationality: Sri Lankan

Employer: RBS, London

In my first year at Durham university, I discovered the importance of doing an internship in order to secure a graduate position.  Therefore, I interned at KPMG for two months, which gave me an insight as to how an accountancy firm functioned. Soon after completing it, I began to apply for last summer’s internship intake as soon as applications were opened.
For this, I sought the help of the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre where all my questions were answered and my doubts were cleared. I completed practice online tests and discussed probable questions for my interviews and activities at the assessment days.
I strongly believe that my extra-curricular activities as well as my experiences at university helped me to be successful in my endeavours. I have played water polo for the university team, and rowed for my college. I applied my financial knowledge in the role of treasurer for the charities committee and have also worked at the college bar. I used examples of the skills gained from these experiences to my advantage in order to secure the internship I was vying for. The Careers Advisers also assisted me in my final decision to choose between the internships I was offered, as there was plenty of material from Durham graduates who had provided feedback on their experiences.

At the end of my ten-week internship at the Corporate Banking division at RBS, I was offered a place on their graduate program starting this September (conditional upon achieving a 2.1). The process of applying for an internship was tedious. However it definitely paid off in the end, as I didn’t have to apply for a job during my final (and busiest!) year- so don’t give up when the going gets tough!