A career, not simply a job

Robert Ayre has in just a few months found PwC has exceeded his expectations, with great opportunities within his role and ultimately his career progression

I returned to Guernsey and joined PwC this September after completing my university studies and working in London for a year.  I joined the firm because I wanted a career, not simply a job; and one that emphasized personal development and offered diverse opportunities.  PwC has certainly met my expectations in both these respects, and many more, so far.  

I first applied to PwC in July 2009, with a view to starting in September 2010.  Clearly, well-ahead of time!  With the online forms completed and first (telephone, in my case) interview passed, I was invited for a final interview in Guernsey in September 2009.

This mix of numerical reasoning test, tour of the office and interview with a Director/Partner (and a well-earned lunch with future colleagues) was the moment that I became convinced that PwC was the place I wanted to begin my working career in earnest.  

I was prepared for a pretty standard interview; having had a number of them for internships and suchlike in London, I was well-used to the formula.  However, the interview ended up being anything but predictable or by rote.  Instead it was an interesting, stimulating discussion where I was most certainly being assessed, but where the emphasis was on discovering if I have the drive and self-motivation to succeed, rather than how well I could memorise a fixed response to an anticipated question.  

I quickly accepted the written offer when it dropped through my post-box in London.  

My one concern on returning to Guernsey in August 2010 was that I’d have a pretty narrow social group; most of my school friends are now scattered across the UK, and of course not many from university were moving to Guernsey!  This fear was alleviated the moment I met my fellow new joiners; all fourteen of us instantly clicked, and the five Guernsey locals did our best to ensure that the nine non-locals quickly settled into island life.  

The office as a whole is also quite young, full of ambitious graduates and with a friendly, supportive atmosphere – and with a very active sports and social committee.  The firm is very into its sport, having everything from football to netball to touch rugby teams.  There is also a fierce inter-office rivalry, with the annual Guernsey-Jersey football match being a major event on the calendar.  Social events are also constantly being organised, so that you can happily base your sporting and social lives around PwC and the friends you’ll make within the firm.

I’ve been at PwC for four months now.  I chose to take the ACA qualification and have now passed three exams toward this, and have thus taken a small step toward becoming a chartered accountant (a three years long process) and gaining a business qualification which is recognised worldwide.  I’ve also completed PwC’s internal training (“GRIP”, the Graduate Induction Programme) in Jersey, and have gained wide exposure to the firm’s client base – which includes everything from banks to insurance companies, private equity to real estate – whilst working in the firm’s Advisory team.  

My fellow recruits – most of whom are working in the Assurance department – and I are thus already building a solid grounding in the financial sector.  We are getting to understand our clients’ businesses – and so business in general – from the financials up, helping explain why chartered accountants are so valued in business.     

A lot of opportunities lie ahead.  PwC offers excellent internal training and support, providing you with a brilliant foundation for a career in accountancy. There is a clear path of progression and you are constantly taking on increased responsibilities and new challenges – arguably more so in the Channel Islands than in the UK firm, where the distance between Partners and new-joiners is all the greater due to the sheer numbers of the latter.  And as noted at the start of this article, the firm very much encourages diversity of opportunity.  In the normal course of business not only will you be working with a range of clients spanning all strata of Guernsey’s financial services sector; but you’ll also get the opportunity to take secondments into different departments – from Tax to Advisory to Assurance – and to different offices.  

PwC is one of the world’s largest professional services firms, with offices in well over one hundred major cities and a client base that is truly global; the chances to develop and experience something different are thus nearly unlimited.  One new joiner has already visited Luxembourg on an audit; at least one other is due in London soon, and more senior colleagues have, since I joined, visited everywhere from Eastern and Western Europe to the US, or left for/returned from secondments to Australia and London.  So, contrary to popular belief, the job does not become repetitive or boring!  

You soon realise how international Guernsey is as a financial centre, and how many of the most interesting businesses are PwC clients.

Even after my short time at PwC, I can attest that its place at the summit of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers (for a record seventh year running) is no accident.  This is a firm that understands that its main asset is its people, and that the quality of their experience is fundamental not just to their success but also to PwC’s as a whole.