‘KPMG HAS BEEN A FANTASTIC PARTNER’
“The way we’ve tried to help is giving them access to our technology and data, and giving them our vision, in terms of allowing them to understand what we do from an educational standpoint,” O’Donnell says. “So they can integrate what our firm is making available to them, which might influence how they develop the classes.”
When faculty have come in for training, he says, they’ve gone through the technology KPMG uses and the methodologies they follow from an auditing perspective, and have taken a deep-dive into security issues and extracting data from client systems. They’ve also created a database that replicates what they might encounter in a client’s environment, so they can share what a typical engagement is like and what results look like in specific scenarios.
“KPMG has been a fantastic partner,” Russell says. “Sometimes in the corporate world, they say, ‘This is how you should do everything.’ And the faculty says, ‘We’re the experts.’ But the faculty who came back from the training had a great experience. Learning from each other has been really good.”
Russell says Villanova is also talking to their counterparts at OSU, so there won’t be too much variance in what’s taught at the two schools.
POSITIVE RESPONSES FROM BUSINESSES AND SCHOOLS
“A pleasant surprise is that they’re really excited about this, and we are as well,” Russell says of KPMG. “We’ve had other firms say ‘Wow, that’s so cool.’ It’s sort of friendly competition among the big four firms trying to hire our students, and as a dean, I love to hear that.”
Russell says business schools try to put their students in the best position possible from the start. “Sometimes you do different kinds of partnerships, and it’s no big deal. But this has gotten lots of positive responses, from both the business side and the other schools. It feels like a win-win,” she says.
Both Russell and O’Donnell say they hope there will be more programs like this in the future. And O’Donnell adds that KPMG is currently in discussion with many other schools that have expressed interest in some kind of involvement with the program. In the future, he says, he hopes KPMG will work with a group of schools — and other firms. In the meantime, they’re preparing for the first class, and getting ready to launch the application process for the second.
D’Ippolito, who finishes up his undergraduate curriculum this summer, says he’s excited to start the master’s program — and also excited to be at Villanova for another year. “I was on the fence about grad school,” he says. “But the combination of accounting and analytics, and being sponsored by KPMG — that made the difference.”