School of Religion

Robyn AgostonRobyn Agoston

Practice Co-Lead, People & Change, Management Consulting, KPMG UK

What I do

I help global organizations to solve issues, create value, maximize growth and improve business performance. I use my business skills to provide objective advice and expertise and help an organization to develop any specialist skills that it may be lacking, and in particular, in the business change and 'Human Resources’ space.

My Story

In 2009 after three years working overseas in International Development, I returned to Canada seeking a career change. After dozens of coffees with various contacts in Toronto, and about a thousand drinks served whilst bartending in the meantime, I determined that a career in management consulting was my next calling. Initially I didn't have much success in Canada, so I looked at other options beyond our borders. Thanks to the Youth Mobility Visa Scheme and a hefty dose of resilience, I moved to London UK and had an entry level consulting job within two months.

During my interviews, I believed that a Religious Studies + International Development degree would be a hindrance, but in reality it was considered a real strength. I was told in my final interview at KPMG that my degree clearly had “taught me the right soft skills like writing, problem solving and arguing—and the firm can teach me everything else.” Until that moment, I truly never realized the value of my inter-disciplinary degree—I chose RELS and DEVS because they were interesting and I loved to study them. But I have since come to realize after seven years in business working with some of the world’s biggest companies that yes, my degree is extremely valuable and taught me many skills that I use in the workplace every day.

The Value of Religious Studies

A degree in Religious Studies taught me how to think outside the box. Specifically, I learned how to approach problems from different perspectives, and to be innovative with my analysis and arguments.  I learned to never to take things at face-value, that there is always more to the story and countless opinions that go with it. This fostered my ability to research and investigate, to ask the right questions, specifically with different stakeholders at all levels. Religious Studies taught me empathy and honed my emotional intelligence. At Queen’s, we were encouraged to engage and interact with local Religious communities and where possible, really embrace what it’s like to be in their shoes.  As a result, I am a sought-after team leader as I treat everyone with respect, understanding and an authentic interest in the individual, regardless of their background or faith. My RELS degree also taught me how to argue my viewpoint. At the time, interpreting passages from ancient Daoist texts didn’t seem relevant to business, but I learned how to set out evidence in a convincing way and argue what I believe is right. Most importantly, my Religious Studies taught me how to communicate. Religion is a controversial topic at the best of times, but speaking about life’s big issues such as death, war, births, marriage, etc on a daily basis developed my ability to communicate effectively and find common ground in conflict.

As my role title indicates, I help People through Change on a daily basis.  And whilst I am now a qualified Management Accountant (part of the ‘everything else’), it is the experience and skills I gained in my time at Queen’s working towards a Religious Studies degree that has set me up for a successful career in business. Without a doubt, RELS has made me a better management consultant, and more importantly, it has made me an interesting, innovative, and empathic human being.

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