Casting call

PwC employees fuel their creative fires

Casting call

 The firm fully embraces someone following their passion. They have so much invested in us. They recognize the happier we are in our general lives, the happier we are in our PwC lives.

Pursuing passions and hobbies is essential for maintaining a happy work life. Some of our PwC talent satisfy their creative side outside of work. Here are a few of their stories.

Keeping things rocking

Greg Billings, a field service technician in Tampa, Florida, has spent the last six years troubleshooting IT issues for PwC colleagues. But at night, he switches from his role of making sure information systems are in harmony to one he’s practiced for nearly 30 years—front man for a rock band.

Right out of high school, Greg hit the road with a band called Stranger. But this wasn’t a case of some starry-eyed kids chasing rock and roll dreams. The band actually signed a record deal in 1981 with Epic Records. “We were supposed to be stars after that first record, but it never quite happened that way,” Greg says. “We still recorded another five albums and stayed together for 15 years.”

After Stranger, Greg fronted Damn The Torpedoes for eight years before forming The Greg Billings Band. Through his musical journey, he’s shared the stage with legends such as Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, Foreigner, Styx and Molly Hatchet. And he’s kept many of those relationships strong, with Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Robin Zander of Cheap Trick appearing on Greg’s most recent album.

While dozens of years on the road have taught Greg plenty of lessons, he’s picked up a few from PwC as well. “Working with coworkers and different personalities has taught me to be more patient,” he says. “It’s a team game. It helps me be understanding when the band has a bad night or when we’re under pressure in the studio. It’s also made me more organized with the business side of music.”

Greg acknowledges that planning ahead and having a solid team at PwC helps him balance both work and music. “The guys in my group at PwC know what I do and they support the band. I plan my shows a few months ahead so I know when I need to leave town. I’ve got great teammates that help.”

The real Ben Andrews

Ben Andrews, a senior associate in Austin, Texas, spends his weekdays with the PwC audit practice. Weekends, however, he can be found recording and producing songs, mostly for the artist The Real Matt Jones. “I record and produce almost every weekend at my home,” says Ben. “Eat, sleep, work, girlfriend, music.”

Ben had a rocky beginning with music. “I began playing piano when I was five. My parents had to force me through the lessons. But once I hit middle school and high school, I found I could play pop songs for girls. That was a benefit.”

In college, he met Matt Jones and began to help him record. That was when Ben discovered producing. “I was never into becoming a great performer, but producing albums is a blast. Some producers have the luxury of just being there to provide vision for the sound. At the other end of the spectrum is the producer who writes and performs the track. I fall in the middle.”

He’s also honed his skills producing music for Ryan Holly. As for his future as a producer, Ben takes opportunities as they come. “If there was a good opportunity, I could see asking for some time to tour or produce, but that’s something that’s just going to happen, or it’s not,” he says. “For now, my only goal is to continue to produce great music and write better songs. That keeps me satisfied.”

Following her passion

Ferrell Marshall, a geography marketing leader in Los Angeles, California, caught the acting bug early, playing an elf at Santa’s workshop in a first grade production. From that small role grew a lifelong passion. “I auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts summer program when I was a freshman in high school and was the youngest student ever accepted,” says Ferrell, of her first foray into an acting career. “My mom said I had to wait until I graduated high school before dedicating myself full time to acting. As soon as I graduated she drove me out to Los Angeles, put me in an apartment, and I went to acting school. I was fortunate to have her full support in pursuing my dreams.”

After acting school, Ferrell found roles in theater and danced before taking a steady job with PwC.
“I originally joined PwC so my mother would know that I was taken care of,” Ferrell explains. “But it was great. It’s given me a family, a place to grow and a wonderful training ground where I can always pursue my first passion.”

Today, she successfully balances PwC duties, acting with the West Coast Ensemble Repertory Company, pursuing commercial work and building a voice-over career. “The firm fully embraces someone following their passion. They have so much invested in us,” she remarks. “They recognize the happier we are in our general lives, the happier we are in our PwC lives.”

Giving acting a chance

Ryan Tolentino, a field service specialist in Chicago, Illinois, fell into acting after a few unexpected turns of events and some spare time. “I worked at Arthur Andersen until the end. At that time the economy wasn’t doing great, so my wife and I decided to take the summer off,” says Ryan. “My wife was pursuing her interests and asked me what I wanted to do. I said acting.”

Ryan began attending Act One Studios, taking a mix of classes to learn about the industry and explore his skills. His acting career gained immediate momentum— in his first month Ryan auditioned for an independent movie on a whim. He got the part and a talent agency to represent him.

Ryan landed work in commercials, on stage and doing voice-overs. He also worked a part-time job until a former coworker invited him to join PwC. “I chose Chicago because that’s where my auditions are, and I can audition at lunch time. It doesn’t disrupt the day.”

So why did he wait so long to start acting? “I always wanted to try acting since I was a kid, but I never did. I was a bit of a jock in school. Acting just wasn’t the cool thing to do. But as time passed, I realized I didn’t want to get older and regret not taking the chance. It’s a good lesson for me and my kids. You don’t have to follow the crowd.”