Alex Noel, Associate at PwC on the HEADstart programme
A major positive of working at PwC is that every day really is different: The things you have to think about varies hugely depending on which client you are working on. Days range from working in the central office to working down at client offices or even their warehouses, close to client’s employees which makes it easy to get valuable face time and build rapport with your clients. This is a great attribute of being an accountant, you meet a huge variety of professionals on a day to day basis in different industries and sectors of finance.
Working for PwC is challenging, but with hard work and dedication you can really succeed and build a great career. Juggling a full day in the office and studying for your accounting exams requires good planning, time management and organisation as well as lots of motivation and enthusiasm. However, whilst you need to manage your own learning and workloads there is a fantastic network of support from PwC and the training providers to advise with study plans and workload management and answer any queries you may have. PwC is a great place to work, I love that you can be working with different colleagues on a weekly basis. However this does mean it’s vital that you are flexible and can slot into and work well in different teams.
Actually, when I was at school I had ambitions to be a Doctor and had made inroads into applying for university places, however I was always aware of the finance industry in Jersey and the possibilities it presented. My change of direction came in my final year at school with the extortionate hike in University fees and when PwC came into my school on their annual roadshow. They really caught my eye with the opportunities they were offering and after further research, I made a decision to apply for a place on the HEADstart programme instead of university. The application process involved an insight day, online application and interviews. The process was very smooth and what really attracted me to the firm were the people I met and the opportunity to obtain a world renowned qualification whilst working and obtaining exposure to different areas of finance and other industries.
What I love most about PwC is the friendly and positive nature of the firm and the people I work with: It really makes it a great place to work. The social side of the firm is fantastic and PwC offer a huge variety of sports teams from mixed netball and touch rugby to an evening league cricket team. Aside from the sports the social committee are always organising drinks and lots of different events from karting to family days at Durrell and cinema nights. This allows us to really integrate and get to know everyone very well. The culture of the firm and networking is great. But the number 1 thing I love about this route to starting a career based around accountancy is the fact that I am working and studying to obtain a qualification whilst my friends are at university and I’ll probably be qualified before they graduate. Although challenging, it is great to know that you really to have a HEADstart in your career.
Like all jobs there are always areas which are not as great as the more mouth watering areas of your job. All accountants have a time of year called ‘busy season’, which involves rather a few long days in the office and more than a few extra hours put in. This time of year requires a greater focus on time management, organisation and efficiency but, all this helps you to really integrate and get to know members of your team well. This time of year does get quite pressurised but you get great coaching and support and as everyone is working just as hard there’s a good vibe in the office which really helps make the time go quicker.
For my role at PwC, as I came straight from school PwC look for reasonably strong A level and GCSE results. I have now been here for 1 ½ years and I am currently progressing through my ACA qualification. In such a short time I have passed 12 exams and I am a part-qualified accountant. In November I will be sitting my final 3 exams to be a fully qualified accountant. The time goes by so quickly, the first goal in my career is already in sight.