Interview with an Alumna: Ellen Klijnstra (KPMG)

Jerôme Crijns
Jerôme Crijns has finished his Bachelor in EBE is now combining an internship with the Young Advisory Group. His field of interest varies from economy to psychology, with a particular focus on behavioral pricing. As soon as cars are involved in the news, he is there to report.

Ellen is an alumna of Asset | Economics. She’s been working at KPMG for almost a year now. Jerôme Crijns and Job Brouwers went to the headquarter in Amstelveen to get a grasp of the KPMG life.

First of all, Ellen, why Tilburg?

I’ve done my Bachelor’s in Utrecht and went to look elsewhere for my Master’s. I found Tilburg to have a great academic reputation, and plenty of career opportunities. I then decided to go for Economics and additionally, I completed a Master’s in International Business Law.

What have you been doing besides your Master’s?

With the prospect of my career opportunities, I quickly joined Asset | Economics in its Inside the Business Day committee. That was quite a time-consuming combination in the beginning of my studies here, but definitely worth it! I came in contact with various companies and enjoyed the committee work.

Was that also how you met KPMG?

Yes! I got to know them via a business dinner. First, I wasn’t so sure about the Big Four. I thought that was an accountancy-only world. My assumption completely changed during the conversations I had with KPMG employees. I stayed in touch with the recruiter at that time, and applied as soon as I had graduated from Tilburg University.

How is your first impression of the working life? Is it tough?

It’s great! Quite a switch from the life as a student, but I still have plenty of freedom. So far, my busiest week has been no more than 55 hours. That’s quite different from the consultancy experiences, where you not only make more hours but also on an irregular basis. I’m more than satisfied with my current situation!

So, no consultancy for you then?

Perhaps, yes. I started at IT Advisory, but now with the new structure it’s the Assurance Suite hence assurance department, which is situated roughly between the pure accountancy and the consultancy-related parts of the spectrum. That feels as if I’m combining the best of both worlds.

Why IT?

I had no affinity with IT when I began working. However, given the fact that digitalization will be extremely relevant in the 40 working years I have ahead of me, I wanted to immerse myself in that field of expertise. That has been very interesting, so far.

Where are you in 5 years from now?

Difficult question… in the longer run, I would like to see if consultancy is also my cup of tea.

Going to a different company then?

No, KPMG it is! There’s much freedom and mobility within the company, and the culture suits me well. I will pursue my path within the company thanks to the opportunities it is providing me. For instance, I have done an interview at the Bundesbank in Frankfurt. That is a challenging and cool way to be spending your time at work. There are many people within the firm who are willing to help you realize your ambitions.

What else where the pivotal points in your studies?

I have experienced an amazing year in Rome. Discovering the less touristic parts of the famous city was great. I’ve met fantastic people and it has enabled me to dive into the Italian culture for a full year. It was arranged via Utrecht University and I am very thankful for the chance.

Sadly no board year…

Haha, that’s true! Having spent an entire year in Italy, then doing two Master’s – that was enough for me.

No problem, everybody makes mistakes. What’s your favourite Italian expression?

I’m afraid that must be: la dolce vita. I am fond of Italy’s calm and relaxed life-style. Although at work, I prefer the more down-to-earth approach of most Dutch people. It has the pleasant side-effect that things are organized in a neat and structured way. I’m a fan of that efficiency.

Finally, Ellen, a tough question… Brabant or the Zuidas?

Easy peasy: Zuidas. I am not a Brabo, although I must say I had a great time in Tilburg!


If you have any question for Ellen about her life or working at KMPG, do not hesitate to contact her for a cup of coffee via

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