Corporate Partnerships: KPMG

From partners who have been with the company for decades down to entry-level college graduates, Business Gators are heavily represented at KPMG.

There are approximately 400 UF alumni currently working in advisory, audit, business processing and tax practices in KPMG’s 46 offices around the world, and a majority of them are Warrington graduates. There are 33 partners at KPMG who are UF alumni with three of them being office managing partner for their respective offices.

Because of the strong results KPMG has seen from hiring Business Gators, UF Warrington remains a priority for the company’s recruiting efforts.

KPMG hosts and attends 45-50 recruiting events for UF students each year and has many different programs that build connections between UF students and recruiters.

While many Business Gators work at KPMG, some are also working directly with the college to ensure it continues to produce impactful graduates. Steve Rainey (Partner, Global Chief Operating Officer, Tax and Legal Services) helps shape the future of the college as a member of the Business Advisory Council.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Business Advisory Council,” Rainey said. “I like the format and the engagement we have with Dean Saby Mitra. It’s not a one-way communication where he’s only informing us. He’s asking us for our involvement and ways we can help him. It’s also good to see the support from the top of the university and the president’s office, and I really enjoy participating with other members of the council.

“My education prepared me for my career. I have a lot to be thankful for because of the University of Florida, the Warrington College of Business, Fisher School of Accounting and all the professors who prepared me well. For that, I want to give back and I’m proud to be a Gator. I love being part of The Gator Nation.”

New York Office Managing Partner Yessi Scheker (BSAc ’99, MAcc ’99) is staying connected to Warrington by hosting events and speaking on campus. Scheker played an integral part in hosting the UF Warrington Bergstrom Center Breakfast at KPMG’s New York City office, and she also attended the UF Warrington Women in Business Breakfast event. Scheker also participated in the Alfred A. Ring Distinguished Speaker Series and recently joined the college’s Business Advisory Council.

“I haven’t been as involved as I have always wanted to be and this is something that always weighed on me,” Scheker said. “Between my fast-paced career, starting a family and managing the day-to-day life in New York City, I put this off for too long. I am a big believer in paying it forward and when the various opportunities to reconnect presented themselves, I decided it was time to create the space for this. I have recently joined the Dean’s Business Council and look forward to continuing to build the awareness and help expand our reach here in New York City.”

Read more about other impactful Warrington alumni who are making a difference at KPMG

JUSTIN AVERY (BSAc ’98, MAcc ’99) | Partner

Justin Avery enrolled at the University of Florida as an architecture major, but it didn’t take long for him to realize architecture was not the right fit. He did well in the classes but wasn’t passionate about the subject.

A conversation with his parents helped redirect his path. Avery’s parents met during their time at UF, where his father Ray (BSBA ’66) earned an accounting degree and his mother Sherry (BS ’68) earned an education degree. They encouraged Avery to investigate the field of accounting and consider the future it could provide.

“I had taken an accounting class in high school, but I hadn’t thought about it as a career path before that conversation,” Avery said. “I now realized the skills an accounting degree could give me and the large number of career paths it could open. That flexibility was attractive.”

When Avery started his recruitment process in 1998, he was impressed by KPMG but ultimately chose to begin his career at Arthur Andersen in Jacksonville. With Arthur Andersen collapsing in the wake of the Enron scandal in 2002, Avery and many of his colleagues made the transition to KPMG.

“We turned in our computers and badges at Arthur Andersen on Tuesday and showed up for work at KPMG on Wednesday, and the rest was history,” Avery said. “KPMG welcomed me with open arms, as if I had been with the firm since day one.”

Avery quickly progressed to manager in 2004, senior manager in 2006 and was admitted to KPMG’s partnership in 2015.

In addition to his role as audit partner, Avery also serves as the resource management partner and technology sector growth leader for KPMG’s Southeast Business Unit. He also serves as KPMG’s lead relationship partner at UF and serves on the Fisher School of Accounting Advisory Council.

Avery works closely with Chloe Lipking (Senior Associate, Talent Acquisition) to recruit talent from the UF Warrington College of Business, including the Fisher School of Accounting. Lipking builds out the recruiting calendar, coordinates events and plays a critical role in assessing candidates. Avery and Lipking work closely with other KPMG partners and staff to make sure KPMG is recruiting, hiring and retaining the best UF students.

“UF is a top 10 campus for KPMG,” Avery said. “UF students are highly sought after because they have received an unmatched education that provides them with the technical knowledge, networking and soft skills they need to be successful in the workplace. The Fisher School is the highest profile accounting program in the Southeast and produces the best, most well-rounded students in the region.”

After years of hiring from UF, KPMG now has more than 400 Gators working in the firm, with another 100 “KPMGators” expected to start full-time within the next 12 months.

“I like to tell students that ‘I’m Gator born, Gator bred, and when I die I’ll be Gator dead!’ The fact that I get to spend so much time on campus interacting with students and helping connect my firm to the No. 1 public university in the nation – this is a great source of personal pride,” Avery said. “And I can’t wait until this fall when my son Tyler begins his freshman year at UF and carries on our family’s orange and blue tradition.”

DAVID TARABOCCHIA (BSBA ’04, BA ’04, MS DIS ’06) | Principal, CIO Advisory

David Tarabocchia enrolled at the University of Florida prepared to study computer and information sciences, but a looming calculus 2 class changed his course. He ultimately landed in decision and information sciences, which is now known at UF Warrington as information systems and operations management.

While pursuing his master’s in decision and information sciences through UF Warrington’s combined degree program, Tarabocchia interviewed with the Big 4 accounting firms. With the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, firms were hiring an increased number of technology auditors.

Tarabocchia knew he wanted a focus in consulting, and after receiving full-time offers from the Big 4, KPMG was the one that stood out.

“KPMG was in process of rebuilding consulting nationally, and the local partner who was recruiting me committed in a way that others wouldn’t to make sure they kept me aligned to the technology and strategy projects I was interested in,” Tarabocchia said.

Tarabocchia started with KPMG in Tampa and has stayed there for all 18 years of his career. He has always worked in KPMG’s technology strategy practice, CIO Advisory. He first led IT strategy and now leads the commercial, infrastructure, government and healthcare lines of the business. He became partner in 2020.

Tarabocchia is also KPMG’s University Talent Acquisition lead advisory partner for UF and is responsible for all recruiting for the Advisory function. He makes many trips to the UF campus throughout the year for UF Warrington recruiting events or events hosted by KPMG. Tarabocchia talks to student organizations and clubs across campus throughout the school year, building relationships with students who are in the recruiting process and identifying strong students who will be going through the process in upcoming years.

Tarabocchia has seen firsthand how UF Warrington students are ready to be immediately impactful in their careers.

“They’re very ready when they start with us,” Tarabocchia said. “I’m impressed by the level of technical acumen they have, both because nature of technology in our world today and what they’re learning in class. They’re sophisticated. They’re prepared for working in hybrid environments because they had to learn skills in person and skills to be virtual.”

As KPMG continues to prioritize UF Warrington students, the company has built a strong network of Gators. The number of KPMG employees, currently over 400, continues to grow every year as more interns and full-time employees are hired.

“You can always sit at a table of Gators and talk about football, professors or classes,” Tarabocchia said. “There’s an instantaneous backstory you have together from times at Warrington.”

HANNAH COHEN (BSAc ’23, MAcc ’23) | Tax Associate

Hannah Cohen started the recruiting process looking for an employer, but she already had the destination in mind. She told every company recruiting her that her goal was to work in New York City. Many companies tried to talk her out of it, pitching other cities in Florida or the southeast as opportunities, but Cohen knew where she wanted to be.

“I wanted to get out of Florida to have a new experience,” said Cohen, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “I have family in New York City and always loved visiting. I was excited about the challenge of starting my career in a big city and working with huge clients and recognizable company names.”

KPMG was one of the few firms open to the idea of Cohen starting in New York City. One of the first times she met the company, two partners from the New York City office happened to be part of the conversation and encouraged her to pursue the move.

She was initially drawn to KPMG at a Fisher School of Accounting social. Most firms were dressed business professional, but Cohen liked the KPMG booth’s energy. They were playing music and wearing bright colored t-shirts, showcasing the culture she was looking for. Once she knew the New York City option was available, Cohen knew where she wanted to be.

“They wanted to help me get to New York City, and I felt validated by it,” Cohen said.

She interned in KPMG’s New York City office during the summer between her senior year and her fifth year in the master’s program, and the summer ended with a full-time job offer that she accepted.

Immediately after arriving for her internship, Cohen noticed the power of The Gator Nation, especially at KPMG. Interns are typically paired with a senior associate to help them be a mentor, and they also have a manager they report to that helps advocate for the intern and monitor performance. While most interns were paired with a manager, Cohen was paired with a partner – Rick Cincotta (BSAc ’04), who leads the company’s business service tax line.

“Rick has been an amazing mentor since day one,” Cohen said. “He has shown me how incredibly valuable it is to be a Florida Gator.”