Meet PwC’s 2013 Working Mother of the Year
As a leader on PwC’s external PR team, Caroline Nolan often fields press inquiries about the firm’s flexible culture and its promotion of women. “It’s an easy area to talk about,” says Caroline, who was recently named PwC’s 2013 Working Mother of the Year. “I am surrounded by women who manage to have amazing full-time jobs with children.” She marvels that “there are so many great role models for working moms here. I don’t think that could be possible if PwC wasn’t so incredibly flexible.”
Caroline and her husband Jonathan live in Washington, D.C. with their five children, Posey, Leighton, Oliver, Tristan and James, ages 18 months to six. In this busy, dual-career family, there’s never a dull moment.
Juggling diapers, passports and a demanding career path
Caroline began her career as a television producer with CNN. She earned her law degree at night while producing at CNN and Fox News, and went on to practice at a law firm where PwC was one of her clients. She was eventually brought in house to handle press coverage of the firm’s high-profile litigation matters. Shortly after Caroline returned to PwC following the birth of her oldest child, James, the family learned they would be relocating to Jerusalem where Jonathan, a Foreign Service officer, would serve for three years.
Recognizing her tremendous talent, PwC utilized Caroline as a consultant while she lived in Israel with her family. In an impressive juggling act, Caroline continued to oversee press coverage of prominent litigation matters for PwC, settled her family into a new life overseas and gave birth to her twins, Oliver and Tristan, and her fourth son, Leighton.
Returning to the US in 2010, Caroline joined PwC’s Office of the General Counsel full time. A year later, as she moved to a Director role on the firm’s PR team, she gave birth to her fifth child and first daughter, Posey. In July, Caroline stepped up to her present role as Managing Director, Executive Visibility.
On the go but never far from home
Caroline relies heavily on the firm’s culture of flexibility and her husband’s support to meet the demands of her fast-paced job and turbocharged family life. She admits that while living overseas as a stay-at-home mom, she often pondered how motherhood would impact her earning potential and career path. “I don’t think that you can have absolutely everything. But if you work in a place that truly recognizes the need for working moms to maintain a life at home and a life at work, you really can do both,” explains Caroline. “That has been a surprise to me—a very pleasant surprise.”
Although she frequently travels to New York for work, Caroline prioritizes being home in Washington for her children’s bedtimes. When Jonathan is overseas on business, she stays home and relies on her New York colleagues to step in. Last year, after receiving news that one of her sons needed stitches after being accidentally hit in the head with a baseball bat, Caroline immediately backed out of a US Leadership Team commitment to be with him. “I have never encountered anyone at PwC who questioned whether family should come first. From our chairman down to the people I work with every day, PwC has been totally supportive,” says Caroline.
Emboldening women to lean in
Caroline is quick to point out the many incredible women on the firm’s PR team. As a coach and supervisor, Caroline hopes to help these talented individuals learn, grow and take on more responsibility. “PwC is set up so you can advance if you really push for it,” she emphasizes.
While acknowledging that “it’s really hard to think about everything you’ve got going on at home, especially with young children, and what you need to be doing to extend yourself at work,” Caroline stresses that women with children can and do thrive at PwC. “Although it’s really challenging to maintain that focus while balancing a family life, PwC has a lot of programs that ease the process,” Caroline notes, pointing to PwC’s maternity leave policy and workplace flexibility programs as catalysts for success.
Making a lasting impression
Caroline’s story demonstrates that flexibility and success are not mutually exclusive. By tapping into her incredible support network at home and at work, Caroline continually stretches her skills to learn and grow, excels at her fast-paced job and takes care of her five children. “If there’s any place that you can do it, it’s at PwC,” Caroline says. “I’ve been a freelancer, I’ve worked at various media outlets, and I’ve worked at several law firms. I’ve never seen a support network like the one we have here.”
In October, Caroline was recognized during Working Mother magazine’s Work Life Congress in New York City. Congratulations, Caroline!
Interview tips: Setting yourself ahead of the competition
Congratulations on scoring an interview for the position you’ve had your eyes on since the start of the semester. The competition you’re facing is fierce, as is the pressure to be a standout candidate among hundreds of applicants from across the country.
Your best chance at acing your interview is to be well prepared. As you gather the latest intel on the company you’re looking to join, here are six tips you can follow to help differentiate yourself from your peers and make a winning impression on interviewers.
Clean up your social media indiscretions
In our hyper connected world, nothing exists exclusively among friends. Now that you’re stepping into the corporate world, it’s a good idea to make sure your social media persona portrays you as a responsible professional. Start by scrubbing posts and tweets that are vulgar, off-color and risqué.
Perfect your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch (sometimes called an elevator speech) is a 30-second summarization of your background and tells someone why you’d be a perfect candidate for a position. If you have one, make sure its wow-factor is off the charts. If you don’t, write one. A good pitch tells people who you are, what you do and what you’re looking to get out of an internship or job. It also includes details on your strengths and the specific ways you’ll add value to the team. Be sure to refine your pitch until it rolls off your tongue and doesn’t sound forced or overdone.
Don’t be stumped by basic questions
Common interview questions such as “What is your biggest weakness?” can choke your performance if you’re not prepared. Don’t let these basic queries catch you off guard.
• Tell me about yourself?
The interviewer doesn’t want to hear your life history. Talk about some of your accomplishments that showcase your best professional qualities.
• How do you handle conflict?
The interviewer knows you don’t get along great with everyone, so don’t portray yourself as the ultimate people person. They’re looking for examples that show you can fare well when things don’t go your way. Demonstrate that you listen to other’s opinions, you’re open-minded and flexible and that you can reasonably state your objections and views.
• What’s your greatest weakness?
Don’t be tempted to reveal your worst moments. When describing your weakness, give a concrete example with an explanation of how you turned things around. The best answer shows you are proactive and are continually working to improve.
• Describe a situation when you failed?
Don’t fear this question. It presents a perfect opportunity to show you’re accountable and mature. Demonstrate that you can recover from a mistake by talking about what you learned from the experience and how it strengthened your skills.
Roll with the oddball questions
In addition to having responses for routine questions on your strengths and weaknesses, you should also expect to answer some odd ones, too. While you can’t anticipate questions such as “How many cows are in Canada?” or “What animal best represents you?, it’s important that you don’t get choked up during the interview. This is your chance to show that you can think on your feet. So remain relaxed and be yourself.
Dress for success
You never get a second shot at making a first impression. This matters the most when it comes to your professional appearance. The moment an interviewer makes eye contact with you, she or he will form opinions of you. Dressing for an interview isn’t rocket science, but it can be a problem if done as an after thought or at the last minute. Your outfit should show you’ve got your act together. As a general rule, if you’re interviewing for a professional, managerial or executive position, wear a suit. If it’s a more casual role, choose an outfit that’s crisp. This means no jeans, wrinkled shirts or chinos as well as anything with lint, holes and snags.
Send a thank-you note
Being courteous is never old school. But when it comes to sending thank-you notes, even the best intentioned and organized of students overlook this critical post-interview task. A good thank-you note can tip the odds in your favor, especially when a hiring manager has a few top applicants in mind for a position. You can find many examples of thank-you notes on the Internet. The best are short and to the point and sent no later than a day after an interview.
Keeping cool in the hot seat is easy when you’re prepared. By investing time to ace your internship interview, you’ll be confident and poised to come out on top. For additional information, watch our “Amp up your Interview” video. Good luck... but if you follow the six tips you’ve just read, you probably won’t need any.
Winning photos lift up US classrooms
Early this year, more than 130 college students, PwC Alumni and financial services professionals entered PwC’s Making a Difference photo challenge on Facebook and Instagram. Contestants submitted snapshots on what making a difference in the community means to them.
The social media contest is part of the firm’s educational outreach program for teachers and students in need. It helps public schools by awarding prize money for donation to classrooms across the US.
PwC judges chose the top 24 entries and their selections got more than 1,200 votes from Facebook and Instagram users around the world. One grand prize winner and ten runners up received a total of $20,000 in prize money. They used DonorsChoose.org, an online charity serving public school teachers and students, to donate their winnings to classroom projects that need funding.
On Campus recently caught up with some of the prizewinners. Here’s what they had to say about their donations:
Jessica Lukosavich, $10,ooo grand prize winner
“I am a teacher and donated all of the money to other incredible teachers in my school and across the country. We were able to purchase 20 iPads to share among classrooms. Students use these for extra math practice, spelling and vocabulary activities, creating presentations on their learning and research. We donated the remaining money to various DonorsChoose.org giving pages.”
Adam Buhler, $1,000 runner up winner
"I donated my $1,000 prize money to the DonorsChoose.org Rebuild Moore, Oklahoma project.”
Tyler Murphy, $1,000 runner up winner
“I immediately donated half of my prize money to a Babson College alum of who is part of Teach for America. She has worked tirelessly over the past year to make her Detroit classroom the best it can be for the students of Detroit Edison Public School Academy. I split the other half among five projects reaching more than 200 students.”
Ben Miller, $1,000 runner up winner
“I donated my $1,000 to a special education teacher in Champaign, Illinois. She teaches senior literature and many of her students have learning disabilities that affect their reading. Most have never been to a book store or owned a book.”
Jessica Striebel, $1,ooo runner up winner
“I donated to classrooms in poverty stricken areas that needed resources such as book organizers, a whiteboard, materials to develop motor skills of kids living with disabilities, music instruments, games and Heimlich Maneuver training kits.”
Everyone has potential to make a difference in the world and organizations such as DonorsChoose.org make it easy for people to come together to help those in need. For ideas on getting involved in your community, go to the Volunteers of America website, VOA.org. Read about corporate responsibility and how PwC's people make their time, dollars, and collaboration count.
Summer interns help uplift a nation and its youth
Having a great career and doing some good in the world isn’t an impossible feat. This summer, for some of our people and interns, making a difference in people’s lives was part of their job.
In July, 146 interns traveled to Belize City with PwC partners and staff to help build a better future for the people of Belize. Now in its sixth year, Project Belize, a key part of the firm’s Earn Your Future initiative, provides mentoring, scholarships and financial literacy education to parents, educators and students in Belize City. It’s a collaborative effort between PwC and Peacework, a nonprofit organization that guides companies on ways to help alleviate poverty conditions in communities around the world.
Can financial literacy really make a difference? You bet!
There are many young people in countries such as Belize who have great ideas on how to build a better future for themselves and their community. But they don’t have the business knowledge and skills to bring their ideas to life. By educating them on basic financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills, they’ll gain the know-how to make their ideas real.
In cities around the world where many live in extreme poverty, such as Belize City, in which 50% of the population is younger than 20, having basic financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills can be life-changing. It not only inspires young people to think about ways they can earn a living, but gives them the confidence and knowledge to act on that potential to build a better future for themselves and their community.
Carol Babb, Belize Deputy Chief Education Officer, believes programs like Project Belize are essential to the children’s – and Belize’s – future. “I strongly believe financial literacy is a life skill – a skill every single one of us should learn,” she said. “No matter how brilliant the children are, if they cannot manage resources, they will be unhappy and unproductive. We now have a lot of students who are saving at home, and after graduating from high school, they’re thinking of opening their own businesses and creating their own jobs.”
Creating a better tomorrow today
The Project Belize team focused their efforts on three areas that made financial literacy and entrepreneurship fun, interesting and sustainable: • youth camps for students • mentoring for scholars • workshops for teachers and principals Their hard work gives Belizean educators, parents and students the confidence and inspiration to unlock possibilities they might not have imagined otherwise. It also provides profound life experiences that the partners, staff and interns will not forget. Jeff O’Brien, an intern from West Chester University, learned a powerful lesson from the children. “I have a newfound appreciation for all the opportunities I have in the United States. Many Belizeans will never have the opportunity to attend college or even high school. As I found myself worrying about trivial things, they are worrying about their next meal and daily survival.”
Learn to standout. Anywhere.
Project Belize is a unique opportunity for our partners, staff and interns to grow professionally and forge new friendships while having a hand in making the world a better place. The experience and camaraderie they shared in Belize prepares them to take on new career challenges at home. Jeff said his fellow teachers taught him valuable lessons that he’ll put to good use in his career. “I learned a lot on being there for each other and coming together to work toward a common goal. I now know what it takes to be a better teammate and communicator.”
Sign me up
To learn how to become a PwC intern or for more information visit Project Belize.
Make the most of your internship
Across the country, thousands of college students are preparing to start summer internships, which are a crucial way to get experience and launch your career. We’ve rounded up top advice on how to make the most of your internship, with perspectives both from former interns and from those who manage interns. Whether you’re searching for an internship, in the midst of one or about to conclude, you’ll find nuggets of wisdom here to help you stand out from the rest.
Here are ten tips for getting the most out of your internship:
1. Be a sponge
Ask thoughtful questions and soak up information. Actively listen and take notes when receiving instruction. Show initiative by researching questions first through company resources and then ask.
2. Have a positive attitude
Be enthusiastic. Be willing to take on any task assigned no matter how small. In certain positions, excelling at the basics can lead to getting more responsibilities.
This is your chance to build relationships with people at all levels. Get to know the other interns and they will grow with you in your career. Get out from behind your desk and get to know the people in your office.
4. Find a mentor, be a mentor
Find someone you look up to and want to emulate at your office. Get to know them and learn more about their career path and choices they have made. You also have the opportunity to be a mentor to others when you are back on campus. Share your internship experience with underclassmen and help others with their career choices.
5. Be receptive to feedback
Every so often, ask your manager how you’re doing. What could you do differently? What could you do better? Are you meeting the goals of the organization? Make it easy for them to give you input that will help you grow. Once you have that feedback, use it.
6. Quality over quantity
Make sure you do a self review of your work. Don’t rush onto the next task to show how much you can do. Take the time to do a good job. Show that you pay attention to detail by following instructions and care about quality. Do a great job even when you're handed tasks that don’t excite you.
7. Stay focused
Don’t use social networking sites (unless it’s part of your job) or text with friends throughout the workday. You may be confident that it doesn’t affect your work, but experienced managers may feel otherwise. Especially this early on, your manager's opinion matters most.
8. Be professional
Remember that an internship is just an extended job interview. Don’t take it for granted. Even if you work in a casual setting, you need to be cognizant of the impression that you’re making. Even if your co-workers make regular conversation about life outside the office, certain things (like the raging party you went to last weekend or the fight you’re having with your friend) should stay out of the office.
9. Understand the office norms and culture
Observe how others in the office act, and mirror that. If employees modulate their voices when others are on the phone, modulate yours. If they’re on time for meetings, you should always be on time, too. Is there a specific way of doing your assignments (say a preferred font or format)? Figure the norms out and follow them. These details may sound trivial, but they’ll help you stand out from other interns.
10. Stay connected
Continue the relationships you’ve built after the internship ends. The truth is that sometimes getting an interview or job is about who you know or about what your former managers say about you. So keep in touch. Connect on LinkedIn or e-mail. Continue to stay connected to the company once you are back on campus.
Leadership insight to Advance your career
Gaining hands-on experience in the field that you’ve spent so much time studying about is one of the primary benefits of an internship. But all too often, students walk away from an internship without a solid understanding of the type of work they’ll be doing once they graduate. An internship should provide the student an overview of the company, its business, and its people.
At PwC, we understand how important an internship can be to help you shape a successful and rewarding career. PwC’s internship experience, Advance, is designed to give you a realistic job preview, as well as a glimpse into opportunities for professional growth and development.
Professors, recruiters, and students agree that the right internship can make a difference for those looking ahead. Alexa Hamill, PwC’s Campus Recruiting Leader, describes Advance as, “An experience that is meant to engage students in personal and professional discovery. Students will learn about the firm, the profession, and themselves. As a firm, we want students to understand they can take personal ownership of their careers. We will work with them to design their own career path.”
As part of every intern’s experience, each intern is given the opportunity to spend time building a working relationship with a PwC partner, principal or manager as they go about their client and team meetings. For some interns, this experience goes beyond their local office and includes a trip to New York City to spend a day with some of PwC’s US leadership team. This experience gives the interns an up close look at a day in the life of top firm leaders and helps them gain an understanding of what it takes to be a leader.
For Trevor Lund, an Assurance intern from Salt Lake City, spending the day with US Chairman Bob Moritz “ was one of the best experiences of my life. It was incredible to have a glimpse into the inner workings of PwC and the vision our leaders have for the firm”. Trevor was surprised at how involved he was throughout the day and how “Bob tried to get to know me, he asked a lot of sincere questions and I felt that he genuinely cared about what I had to say, which meant a lot to me as an intern coming from the chairman of such a large firm.” Trevor was joined by Maria Jobaille, an intern from the NY Metro market, to shadow Bob. What surprised Maria the most was how “after the various meetings we participated in, Bob asked us if we had any reactions or thoughts about the topics they covered. He was open to our perspective and opinions, and valued our backgrounds and stories. I felt like an active participant in the discussion, and felt engaged in the topics they covered.”
PwC’s internship experience, Advance, is a launching point to grow your own way at PwC. Interns discover through their time spent with partners, principals and staff how everyone has their own story and path at PwC. With hard work, opportunities for growth and development are all around.
Ryan McConaghy and Matt McDaniell, interns from the Chicago market, spent the day with US Sectors and Markets Leader Bill Cobourn. After a day participating in global meetings and calls, Ryan realized that it’s possible to “grow your own way” at PwC. “After shadowing Bill, I have a deeper understanding of the entire PwC global network from top to bottom. Working for one company does not mean only one career path; a person can have many different roles and responsibilities here at PwC. This experience reinforced my belief that there are many opportunities at PwC.” Matt was encouraged by Bill “to follow what I want to do.” Matt says that Bill “gave me the motivation to work hard and follow my dreams. He inspired me to find an area that I have a personal interest in and develop my expertise around that.”
At PwC, the people are the firm’s most important asset. Brett Lacey, an intern from the Minneapolis market, experienced this first hand when he shadowed Terri McClements, PwC’s US Human Capital Leader. Brett had the opportunity to sit in strategy discussions and was amazed at “the amount of effort that goes into flexibility, training, and coaching people at PwC.” He shared that “the leadership at the firm truly cares about all of its employees and goes to great lengths to improve the professional and personal lives of its people. Flexibility and professional development are key at PwC.”
The lessons Trevor, Maria, Ryan, Matt and Brett learned paint a very important picture of Advance, PwC’s internship experience. Even with all of the learning and development opportunities each experienced during their time with PwC, the people are what really set their experiences apart. They each saw the possibilities of their career and how they can take ownership and pride in the work they do. As Brett recalls, “Getting to meet and learn from the most influential people at the firm was an invaluable experience that I am grateful to have had. I will make sure to take advantage of all opportunities PwC has to offer.”
Learn about other internship opportunities at PwC.
Giving back while launching a career
Individuals with diverse skills and passions not only make for a strong organization, but can also benefit the community. Joining the right organization can help you fulfill your passion to help others and make a difference. This is the story of Adam, someone who was able to balance his desire to help people with disabilities all while launching a career at PwC.
For as long as Adam could remember, celebrating the abilities of all individuals had been an integral part of his life. During his freshman year at Miami University, he became a member of Pi Kappa Phi, a social fraternity that is dedicated to serving others through Push America. Push America organizes cycling and construction events that raise money and awareness for people with disabilities. Through service leadership, the members of Pi Kappa Phi are able to experience firsthand the amazing contributions people with disabilities have made in our communities rather than focusing on what they cannot do.
Adam participated in local events with partner organizations and eventually served as an executive officer on their council. While he was gaining valuable leadership experiences with Pi Kappa Phi through Push America, Adam continued to pursue a degree in accounting and actively interviewed for summer internships. Adam received an offer to intern with PwC in the Cincinnati Tax office the summer before his last year at Miami University. He was excited for the opportunity to work at PwC; however, he also had a great opportunity to increase his participation with Push America by participating that same summer in the Journey of Hope a cross-country cycling event to raise money and awareness on behalf of individuals with disabilities. He was faced with the difficult choice of participating in a significant fundraising event for the organization he had grown to love, or accept the important internship offer he had received. After thinking it over for several days and asking his mentors, Adam decided to talk to the lead tax partner about his decision to participate in the event instead of the internship at PwC. In his own words, Adam “couldn’t have been more surprised with the results of the conversation,” when the firm supported his decision to participate in the Journey of Hope.
Adam’s year was filled with training and raising money for the event. He received support from people at PwC, both through monetary donations and encouragement. The Journey of Hope took place that summer, where he cycled an average of 80 miles each day and more importantly, helped serve individuals with disabilities in each community. He volunteered at pool parties, game nights, dances and other activities with local organizations in 13 states and more than 50 cities. He was able to help support the growth and development of individuals with disabilities during this long journey. He sent updates to the Cincinnati PwC office throughout his ride and received many letters of encouragement.
Adam’s involvement with Push America and the firm’s support didn’t stop there. After accepting a full time offer with the firm, Adam delayed his start date with PwC until October so he could participate in Build America, another Push America project. Adam worked as the Project Manager, leading a team of 19 people on a travelling construction project. In six weeks, they visited six different summer camps that serve individuals with disabilities, awarded grants, and built accessible amenities so campers could experience a typical summer camp experience.
Adam says, “Without the generous support of individuals at PwC, I would not have been able to participate in each of these events. It is directly because of its support and encouragement that I have been able to raise over $20,000, ride my bike countless miles and, most importantly, make a difference in the lives of others. I cannot even begin to tell the stories of the all the amazing individuals I met while travelling with Push America. There are campers and people I’m still in touch with today who have had a tremendous impact on my life. This story is still just beginning, and while I do not have any formal plans to participate in another event in the near future, I am able to advise the Miami University Pi Kappa Phi chapter and continue to spread the message of the abilities of all people.”
PwC acknowledges the importance of giving back in their communities and supports its employees in following their passions in community service efforts. Adam’s story is just one example of many that shows how individuals at PwC make a difference in their local communities. PwC has an emphasis on disability sensitivity and awareness as part of its diversity and inclusion efforts. Learn more how PwC supports individuals with disabilities.
PwC is also committed to helping employees make a difference in their local communities through it’s Earn Your Future campaign that will reach more than 2.5 million students and educators in the United States over the next five years. Learn more about Corporate Responsibilities.
“Successful networking can make a difference between having the career you want and having a job.The best way to get a job now is the same as in the ‘70s and the ‘80s — word of mouth.”
— Adam Cobb, Professor of Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Networking is an important tool that can open the doors to opportunity. It is about making and building relationships, not just about making connections.
Why is networking important?
Studies show that 60 - 80% of all job offers are the direct result of networking. The job market is tough, and who you know can make the difference in getting the job that you want. Networking is an important tool that can open the doors to opportunity. Networking is about making and building relationships, not just about making connections. Here are some tips to help you learn how to network like a pro!
Stand out from the crowd with your Elevator Pitch
First impressions are made in as little as seven seconds and are often what makes or breaks the impression that others will form of you. The secret to leaving a positive first impression is having a powerful introduction, which is an important tool in your arsenal when meeting new people. The very best introduction you can have is a well prepared elevator pitch.
When planning an elevator pitch, remember that it should be an engaging, memorable, authentic, and relevant way to introduce yourself in 60 seconds or less. Your goal is to help the listener understand your key attributes and interests, and leave them wanting more.
A good elevator pitch should be:
1 Brief. Keep it 60 seconds or less
2 Easy to understand.Avoid jargon.
3 Compelling Show your passion.
4 Relevant. Make it appropriate to the event, the person and your goals
5 Differentiated. Share what is different about from others
6 Authentic. Should be a true reflection of who you are. It should include a window into your values (what’s important to you/what motivates you); your passions (what truly energizes you) and your purpose (what are your bigger picture goals for the future?)
Creating a strong elevator pitch will help you soar above the rest at campus events, career fairs, and in any other social setting you may find yourself.
Give and take
The art of networking is treating it like a two way street – you need to make sure that there’s a “give” and a “take” in the interaction. Showing interest in what the other person has to say will make them more interested in listening to you. One of the main goals of networking is to find a human connection that can spur a memorable conversation. Sharing interests and passions can help form connections and open the doors to a deeper conversation.
Regardless of your talent or your resume, you will encounter situations where the challenges you face will require the help and collaboration of others. Having those strong connections and understanding of other people will help you and others overcome challenges.
Networking is a planned and ongoing effort. You set goals, develop strategies for achieving them, take action, evaluate how well your plan is working, and make changes as necessary. It is something that you will need to do throughout your career. Set networking goals to help push yourself out of your comfort zone. Strive to meet new people at events and not just stay in a group of friends. It is much easier to only talk to those you know, but that will not help you expand your network. Do your homework; know your audience and who you want to meet. Make sure to arrive on time and dress appropriately for the situation. If you are going to a career fair or a company hosted event, make sure to do research ahead of time so you are prepared.
At the event
When you get to an event, have a plan. Don’t just talk to people you know, branch out and make new connections. Remember to make eye contact; don’t look around when you are talking to someone. Offer a firm handshake and use your first and last name. Take a genuine interest in what others are saying, don’t dominate the conversation and only focus on yourself. Ask questions and listen to others.
Networking can happen anywhere, anytime and under a variety of circumstances, formal or informal. The key is to find ways to build relationships and make meaningful connections that can help you throughout your career. Be prepared for all networking situations to help you soar to new heights.
For more tips on effective networking, visit PwC’s personal brand experience
A look into PwC’s Assurance practice
Professionals in PwC’s US Assurance practice work closely with public and private companies to help solve complex business issues. Serving the public interest, they also support the capital markets system through reliable financial reporting.
PwC Assurance teams ask questions, test assumptions, and make sure companies are reporting information on which investors and others can rely. PwC Assurance professionals combine deep technical skills and sector experience to help our clients address the challenges of a rapidly changing environment and strengthen their businesses.
Speaking with On Campus newsletter, Ashley Saddock, an Experienced Associate in the Assurance practice, talked about her experiences—her path from college to a role with the firm—and the career flexibility and opportunities for learning, leadership, and advancement she has discovered working at PwC.
Assurance – Technology, Products, & Services
Market: Charlotte, NC
Joined PwC: September 2010
College: University of North Carolina–Charlotte
After graduation, Ashley Saddock, an English Literature major from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, stumbled upon her interest in the profession when she relocated to Michigan and accepted an accounting position with an insurance and risk management firm. “I initially took the job just to pay my bills while I looked for something else,” she said. “But after a very short time, I discovered I really liked accounting.” Over her tenure there, she developed a strong accounting foundation, eventually working her way into a position in financial statement reporting and as manager of regulatory compliance. In her fourth year with the company, Ashley decided she wanted to take her professional career a step further and become a CPA, which meant going back to school. Having worked alongside auditors through three external audits as a client she decided, “I’m going to give auditing a go.”
Moving back to North Carolina, Ashley obtained a master’s degree in accounting at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte and quickly decided she wanted to work for PwC. After an internship with PwC in 2009, she accepted a full-time position in the Assurance practice. “I requested to be placed in the Financial Services practice and specifically focus on insurance companies—which was a great match for my experience.”
For two years, Ashley audited clients within the insurance industry, at which point she determined that she was at a good point in her career to branch away from the insurance industry to enhance both her accounting and audit skills in another industry. “Leveraging PwC’s internal mobility, I transferred out of Financial Services and into the Technology, Products and Services practice to gain valuable experience,” she explained. Today, she works on public manufacturing and retail Assurance clients. Throughout her career at PwC, Ashley has appreciated the great degree of flexibility and the opportunities which have enabled her to further define her career path and diversify her professional experience.
Ashley not only found flexibility in her day-to-day work, but also the way in which her work is completed. She has been able to coordinate “work from home days” and flexibility with her work hours, while still meeting client demands, which has had a positive impact on her ability to balance work with her personal life. “Working from home or having the ability to work alternative hours gives me the flexibility to be able to make a personal meeting, or a doctor’s appointment, or a family event when needed. As long as client needs are met, I feel support from my teams for this flexibility. I’ve been able to coordinate my schedule with my teams to be sure I don’t have to sacrifice important personal events in my life for work. I can balance life and work without sacrificing one for the other. I work with amazing people and my teams are very understanding and supportive.”
Becoming a CPA
It’s critical to get your credential in order to grow your career at PwC. Ashley focused on completing all of her exams in the three months before she started working at the firm. “I’d suggest taking the CPA exam early—when you’re still in a study mode, after you have just graduated, but you haven’t started working yet. Treat your CPA like a class and finish your last class,” she said. However, for those who wait to take the CPA until you join the firm, Ashley commented, “On my teams, we are always mindful of who is studying and when tests are scheduled, encouraging and helping those individuals to balance their workload with studying prior to the tests.”
Leveraging GADM (Global Assurance Delivery Model)
Engagement teams collaborate with GADM team members to manage and complete the various parts of a client engagement. This type of collaboration helps streamline certain audit activities. “We put together background briefs and instructions for GADM, and then they become just like another team member who helps to accomplish tasks and get the audit completed.” Using GADM allows first year associates and experienced associates the ability to better use the time they spend with our clients, often taking a deeper dive into their business. It also affords them the opportunity to strengthen valuable project management and coaching skills, as they are often the team members who make decisions pertaining to how the work is completed, are the points of contact for the tasks, and typically perform the first level of review.
Working with GADM represents to Ashley yet another opportunity that she has used to grow her own way with PwC and to set her own course for her future with the firm. “I have always volunteered to manage the GADM projects on my teams, because it is another opportunity for me to demonstrate my knowledge of auditing and accounting and to further develop managerial and leadership skills,” Ashley said. “As I see it, my ability to own and control the work I do and to become a leader within the firm can only be progressed—or limited—by my own ambition and drive. So, I’ve communicated what I’d like to do to my network so that people think of me when opportunities arise. Of course you can’t get everything you want, but each assignment I’ve had has taught me something new and valuable, and I’ve always managed to have the interactions to gain the project management and leadership skills I’ve wanted and needed to reach my career goals. It’s all about keeping up constant communication with your teams and mentors: where do you want your career to go and what can you do today, next week, or next year to get there?”
Opportunities for leadership
In addition to the finding leadership opportunities in audit fieldwork, Ashley has sought to widen her vision of leadership to include PwC at a national level and to her community. In the fall of 2011, Ashley accepted an invitation to serve on the Assurance Experience Council as the experienced associate representative for the Carolinas market. “I’ve been honored to represent my peer group to national leadership. All the major players in the firm’s Assurance practice are present at Assurance Experience Council meetings, seeking ideas and feedback on how to evolve the business,” Ashley said. Topics that have been addressed by the council include changes that will have an impact on the firm’s culture and how to keep people engaged, happy, and excited about the work they do and PwC. “All of the Assurance leaders are there and they want to get feedback from us,” she said. “They present their ideas to us for our feedback and often ask us to present our solutions to leadership. Then the roles are reversed and we have an opportunity to bring our ideas and suggestions to the national level. The goal is to generate a two-way dialogue with leadership that is innovative and that will make PwC an even better place than it already is to work and grow your career. As a representative for the Carolinas, it’s a great opportunity to solicit comments from my market, and to then raise those thoughts to the people who can make a difference. That all feels pretty good, knowing that PwC is interested in hearing our perspectives, and that our input is important to the firm.”
Outside of PwC, Ashley is an active board member and chair of the finance committee for Charlotte Concerts, a local non-profit organization, where she joins her accounting knowledge with her love of classical music. “We bring music education into the Charlotte community with concerts and outreach programs. We also purchase dozens of musical instruments each year for community school children and sponsor elementary and high school orchestras and bands. Being part of the PwC community through work, both locally and nationally, is very enriching—but taking the skills I’ve gained from working at PwC and sharing them with the community, to directly impact people outside of work is what brings the PwC experience full-circle.”
Learn more about PwC's Assurance practice.
Building your personal brand
Building a strong personal brand is critical to helping you stand out in a competitive marketplace. In building your personal brand, you define your individuality, maximize your strengths, and manage your choices to create future opportunities that are in line with who you are and where you want to go. It’s time to take charge of your future and step up to stand out!
A strong personal brand it rooted in authenticity. You need to be clear on who you are, what makes you tick, and what you want to be known for so you can differentiate yourself from the crowd. Follow the steps outlined here to build an authentic brand that will help you become a keeper in the job search.
Step 1: Define your X Factor
The first step is to discover your unique strengths—the things that set you apart from others. Ask yourself the questions below, then validate your responses by getting feedback from others.
1 What makes you stand out?
2 Which of your skills motivate you?
3 Which get others excited about you?
4 What do you want to be known for?
If you build a reputation based on your strengths, you’ll be well positioned to leap over tall stacks of resumes in a single bound.
Step 2: Understand your whY Factor
Once you have greater clarity on your strengths, it’s time to dig a little deeper into who you are, what makes you tick and what’s important to you. Start by focusing on your values, passions, and purpose. Your values are your personal compass—they drive your behaviors. Your passions are a renewable energy source that fuels your actions. And your purpose is your vision of what you’d like to achieve and serves as the internal roadmap that points your decision-making in the right direction.
If you truly understand your whY Factor, you can design a career plan that connects with your values, passions and purpose. When you’re living in alignment with your values and integrating your passions into what you do, you’re excited, engaged and totally unstoppable.
Step 3: Eliminate your Zzz Factor
Once you’ve nailed down your X and whY factors, it’s time to focus on communicating your unique promise of value to the world. Your personal brand is the reputation you’ve built with people in all walks of your life, and each interaction you have with others creates a memorable experience that teaches them what they can expect from you. It’s up to you to eliminate your Zzz factor and be a keeper, not a sleeper!
Storytelling is a great tool for you to convey the essence of who you are versus just sharing a laundry list of what you’ve done. In today’s competitive marketplace, you need to be memorable and communicate the authentic you while setting yourself apart from others who may be competing for the same opportunities.
Telling your story goes beyond what you say. What you do says volumes about you. First impressions matter. Don’t let something as small as professional attire or body language sink your ship before you’ve even spoken. Amp up your interview with strong professional presence and memorable and relevant stories that showcase the real you in action.
Don’t forget the importance of networking. Networking can happen anytime, anyplace, if you’re on the lookout for it. Create a networking plan to make sure you’re getting your name and face out there in a meaningful and memorable way. Remember, networking can be even more powerful when it begins face-to-face and then is sustained through bits and bytes.
Step 4: Ready, Set, Show
Leap off the page with career marketing tools that pack a punch. Your resume and bio should reflect who you are, not just what you’ve done. They create an experience of you in the mind of the reader before they even meet you. Through these tools, you can build emotional connections so others want to get to know you better. To leap off the page and become top of mind to your recruiter, focus on marketing brand you through charismatic cover letters, resumes that resonate, branded bios, and giving “thanks that ranks.”
Stand out online by building your brand in bits and bytes. Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube can help you express your brand to a much larger audience. You want people to see the real you in the virtual world. Chances are you’re already using social media in a variety of ways. It’s important to remember that what you put on the Internet is captured there for posterity. Not only can your current network access this material, so can your future contacts, employers and network influencers. At lightning speed, you can positively or negatively impact your brand. Make good choices so that your virtual brand reflects the true you.
PwC’s personal brand experience—Step Up to Stand Out—will help you find and showcase your strengths so you can stand out from the crowd. By tapping into your unique skills, talents and passions, you can leap off the pages of your resume and become top of mind to your recruiters.
To complete a series of informative and fun personal brand activities and Step Up to Stand Out!
Making an impact on future leaders
As you no doubt know, “Corporate Responsibility” has become a hot phrase in company-speak over the last several years. What’s confusing is that it encompasses many different efforts and can mean different things from business to business. For us, a big part is giving back to our communities and doing so in ways that we know will make a difference—both to our communities and to our people.
For our people, working with our communities is both fulfilling and educational—we hone existing skills and learn new ones, develop new networks, challenge ourselves, get chances to help those in need in ways we never would have had otherwise, and identify for others what we consider important.
Given how important this is to us, we spent almost three years looking where we should focus our efforts, talking internally and doing outside research. We heard time and again that our people were looking for ways to get involved locally and beyond, and so whatever we focused on had to provide those kinds of opportunities. Thus, this past year, we decided to focus on financial literacy and started a five-year commitment to donate $60 million and one million service hours (worth $100 million) toward youth education. We call this effort Earn Your Future, and helping train and equip teachers is a big part of it.
Why financial literacy? Because far too many students graduate high school without the basic personal and business financial skills they need to succeed, too few teachers have the training to teach classes, too many schools lack the resources to train teachers, and too many businesses are unable to hire employees with the basic economic skills needed for their jobs.
Here are some of the many facts that motivate us:
Less than half of high school graduates understand that paying only a credit card’s monthly minimum balance would result in higher annual payments than paying off their debts in full each month; 35% percent of teens do not know how to write a check; and Less than 20% of teachers say they have the knowledge to teach a financial literacy class.1
That’s the “why.” We are approaching the “how” in different ways. For example, our people are getting involved directly and we are providing our people and teachers with educational resources. We created 18 financial literacy curriculum modules that our people, from interns to partners and principals, can use in schools across the country. These lessons are free of charge, designed for students in grades 3-12, and include lessons on credits & debits, identity theft, savings & investments, incomes & careers, and planning & money management.
Another way we are attacking the problem is through working with other organizations. For example, we are working with Knowledge@Wharton High School (KWHS). KWHS is a part of The Wharton School that creates opportunities for students and educators to explore their business-related interests, both inside and outside of the classroom. Promoting global financial literacy has been one of its core missions.
Working with KWHS, we took a big step forward this past fall when PwC and KWHS held a three-day training seminar for more than 225 educators, 150 of whom came to Philadelphia. Over those three days, teachers learned how to teach such diverse topics as savings and investments, risk management, and negotiation. We learned a great deal back from the teachers, who also reinforced how important financial literacy is.
For example, one teacher told us “I saw so many homes torn apart by personal finance issues. That motivated me to empower people to make the best choices in the financial world.”
You might be wondering how you can get involved and begin helping out right now. Here are some possibilities:
Get in the classroom and teach students through grade 12 one or more aspects of financial literacy, such as budgeting; Tutor and mentor school children on the issue – this might not be a novel approach, but it’s proven; and Teach students on the issue though youth education organizations such as Junior Achievement, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Boys & Girls Clubs.
On a final note, there’s one more way you can make a direct difference in students’ lives—all you need is your phone or a camera. We’re asking you to use Facebook and Instagram to upload an original photograph that answers the question, What does making a difference mean to you? We will choose the top 24 entrants and the public will then choose the winners. Using www.DonorsChoose.org, one grand prize winner will direct our donation of $10,000 to worthwhile classroom projects throughout the United States, and 10 runners-up will direct donations of $1,000 each to classroom projects of their choice.
Make every minute count
There are some parts of your school schedule you can’t control. Classes, projects, deadlines, and test preparation, just to name a few. Add up enough of these, and time you can dedicate to your schoolwork gets scarcer. When your time is limited, you’ve got to work harder to make it all count. Here are four tips to help you make the time that you do dedicate to your schoolwork work harder, so you can get to all the other things you have to do:
1. Make a list. Before you roll your eyes, try it. Put a box next to each thing and check it off as you go. Or scratch it off. Write it on your hand. Or write it on an enormous piece of paper. Knowing what you’ve got to do is the first step to doing it.
2. Find your "best time". Whether you’ve thought about it consciously or not, everyone has times of the day when they are at their most productive. Whether its 3 PM to 5 PM in the afternoon or midnight to 2 AM, find it.
3. Protect it. Distractions, emergencies, last minute stuff. Whatever you call them, if they cut into your “best time,” think about whether they’re really worth your time. A little commitment now will give you far more free time later.
4. Know your weaknesses. If it’s the phone, turn off the ringer. If it’s the television, unplug it. If it’s music, turn it off. If it’s silence, turn the music on. If you’re a clock-watcher, tape a piece of paper over the display.
Managing your time requires self-discipline, and nobody’s perfect. And rest assured that it will be worth it in the end.
Time management is not just something that will help you now; it’s something that you absolutely have to learn to be successful in your career. We invite you to jump-start your career by visiting www.pwc.com/us/personalbrand
Career advice from PwC’s US Chairman and CEO
Recently, I was approached by a new associate in our Atlanta office who had read some advice I had given to college freshmen on Reuters.com. The new associate asked if I had any specific career advice for someone just starting out at PwC. I replied to her directly and then also shared this advice in a blog with all PwC staff through our internal social media platform. Since you are a student who will soon be starting a new career, I also thought I’d share my advice with you.
1. More than the breadth of your work, your personal brand is defined by the quality of your work. Whether you’re a first year associate or a senior manager with a wealth of experience, look for opportunities to exhibit everyday leadership. Do well in the tasks you are asked to perform, but then extend yourself to do even more
2. Remember, leadership occurs at all levels. Whether you’re a first year associate or a senior manager with a wealth of experience, look for opportunities to exhibit everyday leadership. Do well in the tasks you are asked to perform, but then extend yourself to do even more.
3. Get smart about the organization you have joined Get to know all of the different services your company has to offer...explore and experience a few if you can. You’ll be in a better position to add value in your role, and in the process you’ll expand your network.
4. Network, network, network! You may not realize it now, but many of your peers today will not only be your colleagues, but may also be clients or service providers tomorrow.
5. Ask for feedback...
6. ...then act on that feedback when appropriate. (And recognize that not all feedback comes by way of a formal sit down meeting or in a written form. Take it and learn from it in whatever form it comes.)
7. Learn as much as you can with the opportunities provided...whether through your assignments, in the classroom, via self study or learning from other teams. And never be complacent—continually seek out new opportunities, especially those outside your comfort zone.
8. Don’t forget you are part of a team. No one can do it alone. So be a great team member, support your colleagues, put yourself in others’ shoes...and think about how you will create and lead teams in the future.
9. Give back. We are privileged to have jobs and be in the position to give, and, whenever we can, we should give back to our communities, be responsible leaders, and help people in need.
10. Finally, make sure it isn’t all just work. Enjoy life and take advantage of your organization’s flexibility to pursue your passions outside of work. Don’t treat your career as a sprint to the finish line, but as a marathon that will last many years.
I recognize that I don’t own the keys to success. The beauty of being part of a firm the size of PwC is that there are as many paths to success as there are people here.
To follow in the PwC spirit of people helping others to develop professionally, I encourage you to share this career advice, as well as your own, with your friends and peers.
Grow your own way...in a new city
As an employer of almost 8,000 interns and new full-time associates from campuses across the country each year, PwC knows that students may seek employment opportunities in geographic areas beyond where they go to school. Sometimes students want to work in a city that brings them closer to family, others want to try living in a new city after they graduate, or some students want to move to a market where they can find industry opportunities aligned with their passions. Whatever the reason, at PwC, we do our best to help students find positions in the cities they prefer. Our culture of flexibility encompasses geographic mobility and is one way how we help our people grow their own way.
On Campus recently caught up with Aaron Lasher and Chelsea Dickinson, two students joining PwC full-time next fall, to talk with them about how they landed career opportunities with PwC in offices that seem unexpected relative to where they are going to school.
PwC / In which office were you interested in working?
Aaron Detroit, MI.
PwC / Why were you interested in working in Detroit?
Aaron As a lifelong fan of cars, Detroit is the place to be. Detroit is filled with the rich history of the American automotive industry and still serves as the heart of its worldwide operations. When a partner from PwC’s Detroit office traveled to Indiana University to talk about the office and his clients, I was really impressed with the interactions that he’d had with some of the major players in the industry. I could tell from his experiences that the firm would give me the opportunity to work within an industry I’ve always loved.
PwC / How did a PwC recruiter help you in the process to get an internship in Detroit?
Aaron I had the great fortune of meeting John May, the Greater Michigan Market Sourcing Leader, at a career fair at Indiana University. Talking with him really helped me learn more about the Detroit office, the city, and the automotive client base that PwC served in Detroit. I told John I would like to work in Detroit, and he connected me with the recruiter for Indiana University, Shannon Anderson from the Indianapolis office. Shannon was incredibly helpful, and she encouraged me to apply for an internship in the Detroit office. Shannon and John made the process easy and enjoyable for me, and they gave me an incredible opportunity to reach my personal goals.
PwC / Tell us about getting connected to a partner in the Greater Michigan market. What did the partner do to facilitate your recruiting process?
Aaron Since he knew I was very interested in working in Detroit, John arranged a meeting for me with a PwC partner from the Detroit office who was visiting Bloomington, IN, where Indiana University is located. The partner, Mike Marcero, and I had the opportunity to speak at length about his experiences in Detroit—from the city to the PwC office to the sports teams. That was an eye-opening experience for me, and really stoked my interest in that office even higher. It was a very open conversation, and gave me an incredible view of PwC Detroit and its people. I can’t say enough how important and meaningful this meeting with Mike was for me.
Since John was highly aware of my passion for the automotive industry, he also had a fellow car buff from the Detroit office reach out to me, and we spoke for a while about his work in the Autofacts Group. This conversation showed me that there were more opportunities at the firm than I even knew about.
PwC / What did your experience in the recruiting process tell you about how you can grow your own way at PwC?
Aaron I realized there are so many paths and doors open at any given time for people who work with PwC or want to work with the firm; the most important thing to do is be upfront about where you want to be in the near-term as well as long-term. Throughout the recruiting process, I was encouraged to reach out and ask questions and felt that PwC was interested in helping me develop myself professionally. The care that the firm takes with its potential really convinced me that I would have vast opportunities available at PwC, and the support network to help me take advantage of them.
PwC / Are you going to be working with PwC full-time? When do you start?
Aaron I’ll be starting at PwC in the fall of 2013.
PwC / What are you most excited about starting your career?
Aaron Part of my interest in cars comes from wanting to know how every piece works together to keep the car rolling. I’m really excited to watch the whole audit, from start to finish, and see how my own part plays into the team’s successes.
PwC / Do you have any tips to share with students who are looking for a role and perhaps in an unexpected geographic location?
Aaron I think that showing your passion for a particular area or role is the biggest asset you can have during the recruiting process. If you’re really excited for a particular location or line of service, let your passion for it show. I was really excited for the opportunity to work in Detroit, and the people I met from the office really appreciated that and wanted to work with me to help me realize that dream.
University of Mississippi
PwC / In which office were you interested in working?
Chelsea New York, NY.
PwC / New York City may seem a long way from Mississippi. Why were you interested in working in New York?
Chelsea My primary reason for wanting to work in the New York City office was because I wanted to work with PwC in Assurance in the financial services sector. The office has a large client base of organizations in this sector. I actually had a specific client with whom I wanted to work in mind since freshman year of college. Also, I have extended family in the New York City area so I spent a lot of time there growing up. I love the high-octane lifestyle and you just can’t get a good bagel in Oxford, MS.
PwC / How did the PwC recruiting team help to get you placed in the PwC location you wanted?
Chelsea The Ole Miss and New York office recruiters were extremely supportive of my goal to end up in the New York City office—I feel like they went above and beyond to make it happen. I know there was a lot of work and effort going on behind the scenes so that I could end up in the right office. It was obvious throughout the recruiting process that PwC truly cared about me as a potential recruit and that was one of the deciding factors in my decision-making process. For example, the recruiters knew I had researched the client base in New York, and the New York City lifestyle— and they provided me opportunities to meet the right people to learn more about both. In the end, not only did I end up in the location that I wanted, but I also ended up assisting my dream engagement team as well. I am so appreciative of the recruiters’ efforts and their confidence in my ability.
PwC / What did your experience in the recruiting process tell you about how you can grow your own way at PwC?
Chelsea As a freshman I competed in the xTREME Games, and was a National Finalist in 2009, and won the campus round again as a sophomore in 2010. The xTREME Games were a fantastic way to get to learn more about PwC and to help the people of PwC learn more about me. I felt that the interviewing process for an internship position was very quick and easy because by the time I was interviewing, as a result of participating in xTREME, I had already built a huge network within PwC.
PwC / Are you going to be working with PwC full-time? When do you start?
Chelsea I will be going back to New York City in January 2013 for a second internship and I will be on schedule to start full-time with PwC in September 2014.
PwC / What are you most excited about starting your career?
Chelsea I’m excited to get back to New York and hang out with my engagement team. I can’t wait to learn more about my client and sector. What I enjoy most about public accounting is that there are opportunities everywhere to make the job more challenging and exciting—for example, special research projects, industry-specific research, and more. You know you really enjoy your job when every day you go to work and wonder where the time went when the day ends. I found during my internship that working at PwC feels more like fun than work, because I enjoyed applying what I learned in school and because my engagement team became not only my work colleagues, but my friends.
PwC / Do you have any tips to share with students who are looking for a role and perhaps in an unexpected geographic location?
Chelsea I would advise students who want to work in a market outside of where they go to school to do their research, to form a compelling reason why they would like to work in a particular market, and to let PwC know their preferences as part of the recruiting process.
Contact your recruiter to learn more.
Shaping a career path in PwC US Tax
Professionals in PwC’s US Tax Services help businesses keep pace with tax legislation, regulatory developments and complex business challenges. As advisors adding value for their clients, Tax professionals at PwC can choose from many specialties, one of which is International Tax Services. The US firm’s International Tax Services group has a wealth of experience helping companies address their cross-border needs. Teams advise clients on multiple aspects of international taxation and help multinational businesses achieve their goals in a tax-efficient manner, both locally and globally.
On Campus talked to Kirby Huelsebusch, a Senior Associate in the International Tax Services practice, and asked her to tell us about her experiences in the practice and how she is shaping her career path in this cutting-edge field.
International Tax Services
Joined PwC: October 2009
College: University of Cincinnati
Enjoying a career that exceeds expectations
As an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati, I participated in the school’s work/study co-op program, where I was given the opportunity to gain real world work experience. I was able to test drive not only a position, but a company’s culture too. Having the opportunity to take on various responsibilities throughout my internships gave me a perspective on what I really wanted to do with my career. It was through my initial internship experiences that I turned to PwC for my final two rotations. At PwC, my internships provided the opportunity for me to explore my interests among the vast scope of services and specialities the firm has to offer. Having had the opportunity to assist PwC teams with various projects, I realized I was interested in the type of work the International Tax Services teams were doing for their clients. By the end of my internships, I was confident that this was the right specialty for me.
What interested me the most about International Tax Services was the extensive high-level business issue research and the application of this research to each client’s unique circumstances. Exploring how each situation would be treated, in terms of understanding existing tax law and making an appropriate recommendation, was both dynamic and challenging. There are so many technical issues to delve into in International Tax. There is not always a clear-cut answer, but I really enjoyed the deep dive the teams took in developing solutions to some of these complex problems. I also knew from what I saw and heard in the industry that the international space was a really fast-growing area of tax, and I knew I wanted to be in an industry that was relevant to today’s global economy and that had a lot of growth potential. When I completed my internship, and was extended an offer to work with PwC, I confidently said, “When I come back full-time, I’d be interested in trying out a career in International Tax,” and it was my internship experience that provided me this insight.
After I wrapped up my masters in accounting and received my CPA, I came to the firm as a full-time hire. In pursuing a career at PwC, I had expected that I would be surrounded by top tier talent, and consistently learning and moving forward with my career. The people in my home office are influential mentors and our client base is strong.
Teaming for success
Each day is fresh, things are always changing, and I don’t know exactly what will be in store. I spend a significant amount of time liaising with international offices and PwC network firms around the world. My primary goal is to analyze tax issues not only from a US-based perspective, but also to consider them from global viewpoints. The relationships I have built with my clients and colleagues within the firm are critical to my role. The more I’ve interacted and collaborated, the stronger these relationships have become. I’ve found that my colleagues are more than willing to accept questions and offer guidance and mentorship. They spend time discussing my projects and coaching me, and they have been very inclusive.
Through the trusted relationships I’ve built, I have been given responsibility and the opportunity to take ownership of projects, all while growing as a professional. As a result of my experiences, I’ve been given the trust to lead initiatives and observed how the people here have tailored their careers—it seems like no one follows precisely the same path and I am also carving my own path. I found the key is making sure that I speak up and communicate what it is I am looking to do next.
Growing as a well-rounded professional
It’s not uncommon to be concerned that once you start working full-time, it can be tough to balance your personal life. By making a concerted effort to get involved in my community and stay active with friends, I’ve been able to fill my life with things I really enjoy. I’ve even played intramural softball with my home office. Interacting with and getting to know co-workers outside of work has been a lot of fun. Beyond intramurals, I’ve participated in the firm’s campus recruiting leadership program, Elevate, serving as a team leader, and helped out at PwC recruiting events at my alma mater. It has been a rewarding opportunity to offer students first-hand knowledge about life at the firm. I am able to be candid with students and help them make career choices that fit their unique goals. Additionally, the firm’s commitment to community service has allowed me the opportunity to spend a day building houses for Habitat for Humanity and to spend time making lunches to feed the homeless and disadvantaged people in my community, through Martha’s Table.
The encouragement extended by my team to support me in finding balance in work and life has reminded me to step back and say, “There’s more to life than just work. To be a successful, well-rounded professional, you need to think about all aspects of life.” I’ve learned the key to achieving this balance is good two-way communication and planning with my team to make sure client commitments are met and projects completed. It’s been very clear to me from the time I started with the firm that the people here want you to succeed. They want you to be happy while you’re here so that you can see yourself having a long-term career with PwC.
Reverse Mentoring: Turning the hierarchy upside down
We've all heard about the importance of having a mentor in our careers, someone to help guide us, give us advice, and teach us things we need to know about the business world. Mentoring is not a new concept and has been around in some form or fashion for a very long time. But what if we decided to take a different approach to mentoring, turn things upside down and challenge the traditional approach we've always had to the mentoring relationship? That is the idea behind the concept of the Reverse Mentoring Program PwC's Greater Atlanta Market has been piloting for the last year. Reverse Mentoring challenges the traditional hierarchy and turns the traditional mentoring relationship upside down, by assigning new staff members as the mentors for more experienced, seasoned partners and principals.
"Our view is that reverse mentoring is an opportunity for us to engage our people in a conversation around the things that are most important to the firm," says Gary Price, a partner in Advisory practice who was a mentee in the Atlanta market.
For the Greater Atlanta market, the concept was born out of a desire by the Market Council leadership team to find better ways to connect with members of the rapidly growing millennial generation. Inspired by the description of Reverse Mentoring in an article about ways to mentor millennials from the Harvard Business Review, the Market Council decided it would give the idea a try. Each member of the market council was paired up with a staff member at either the Experienced Associate or Senior Associate level. These Seniors and Associates serve as the "Mentors" to the market council leaders who are the "Mentees." A few baseline parameters where established, including confidentiality and a commitment to meet regularly, but other than a few basic guidelines, the structure of the experience is left up to each pair to define.
As the Mentor, each staff member is responsible for setting up monthly meetings with his or her mentee and for driving the agenda and picking topics for discussion. The mentee is also encouraged to offer suggestions for discussion topics in areas where he or she might have questions or want the opinion of a staff member. For example, a leader "mentee" might want to some guidance from his or her mentor about an upcoming staff meeting to understand how to better communicate with the staff and anticipate any areas of concern or topics to cover in the meeting. The mentor can provide invaluable insight and an inside look directly into the morale of the practice. Each quarter the mentors come together on a call to share best practices and talk about the experience each person is having in an effort to foster new ideas and topics to discuss with the mentees in order to keep the experience growing.
Mentor/mentee relationships are important to opening a new line of communication, as demonstrated by Atlanta mentor, Vanessa Cook, a Tax practice senior associate and her mentee, Jeff Able, a partner in the Assurance practice. "I've been able to build a personal relationship with my mentee and I think that it gives me the avenue to give advice and that advice will be taken into account," comments Vanessa. Jeff appreciated the insight Vanessa was able to provide him that he would not otherwise have, "Though Vanessa has been with the firm for 10 months, and I've been with the firm for over 20 years, she knows things that I don't know that will make me better if I embrace them," he states.
One natural area that the conversations gravitate towards is technology. Many of the Mentor/Mentee pairs have talked about ways to better use technology on a daily basis to make work more efficient, whether it be by utilizing a particular App or by using technology as a means to better communicate with team members such as text messaging.
Technology is just one entry point for the discussion between mentor and mentee. As with more traditional mentoring roles, the key to success lies in the development of the relationship between mentor and mentee. The deeper the relationship and the more each mentor and mentee invest in one another, the more benefit both parties will see.
Reverse Mentoring is also a key way to increase our awareness of diversity issues. Mixing mentor and mentee pairings to reflect a mix of race and genders can create a very positive learning experience and connection that leads to personal growth and deeper level of awareness by both people. It's a great way to increase the cultural dexterity of those involved.
The goal of Reverse Mentoring at PwC is not just to increase the connectivity between our partners/principals and staff or to reduce turnover. PwC is exploring how to leverage this program in offices across the country in order to create better leaders at both the staff and partner/principal level through a shared experience that transcends differences in years of experience and provides self development for each person through the exchange of ideas and experiences.
Experience growth re-imagined
Professionals in PwC’s Advisory practice bring a diverse background of skills and experiences that enable us to provide our clients with a unique and holistic perspective to their business issues. Our Advisory practice has grown through robust hiring—both campus and experienced hires—as well as strategic acquisitions. Consequently, our services have expanded, enabling us to address our clients’ most complex issues from strategy to execution, while also enhancing PwC’s status as one of the world’s top consulting organizations. Our professionals work with specialists across the firm who have deep industry experience and deliver customized solutions across consulting, deals and forensics services.
Chris Beaumont Technology Consulting IT Strategy Group
Market: San Jose
Joined PwC: August, 2009
College: University of California, Berkeley
Expecting the unexpected
I joined PwC as a new campus hire after a summer internship with another company. I thought I would start my career working primarily with a team through a manager. I had expected senior staff would be handling all the client interactions until I had been with the firm for a while. But on my first day, I was talking directly with clients, and then working with senior leaders. That was unexpected, yet I always had the full support of my team.
Through many of my early interactions, especially with the more senior-level clients, I witnessed some high-level strategic decisions being made. I came into a project that was already in progress and was able to see how the client and the team were responding to challenges and working through the issues. As a new team member, it was exhilarating to be brought into a project like this right away and to be part of the conversation and solution. At the beginning, I certainly was not the direct point of contact, but it wasn’t long before my team trusted me. I wasn’t just part of the “little” things, I was part of the entire process and had real responsibility, which meant I had to be on my game. I didn’t know when I would get questions, so I had to be prepared by keeping up with research on the client’s history, activities and strategies. At such an early point in my career, this was really satisfying, and it boosted my confidence. Like many people who are new to a role in an organization, I sometimes questioned my ability when I joined the firm. “Did I have the right experience to tell clients something they don’t already know?” I have to say it was small wins and small successes that built my confidence, and I just ran with it. I had a desire to work hard, get ahead and really do some cool things. I’ve really been able to take advantage of the opportunities PwC provides.
Relationships that have an impact
From the beginning, I worked with a couple of great managers on my team who helped me jump start my career. From the moment we started working together, they said, “We fully understand your background. We’re asking you to jump into the fire here and get up to speed. If you have questions, ask.” Their coaching was so valuable to me—they helped me understand how to be effective with clients and how to get my point across. When we were in front of a client, they always made sure I was prepared and they allowed me to ask the sorts of questions beginners have behind closed doors, so that when it came time for presenting, I would be articulate in front of the client. There was no expectation that I knew all the answers. It was okay for me to ask questions, even if I thought they were “rookie” questions. The culture is friendly and supportive, and that is what is so incredible about the firm. The fact that I could sit down one-on-one as an associate with our senior leaders and feel as comfortable with them as with peers, was inspiring.
Sharing in a collaborative culture
We choreographed an interactive collaborative workshop for a client called Accelerated Solution Design (ASD). We gathered all of their key decision makers in an off-site location, discouraged interruptions from cell phones and laptops and helped them focus on how to tackle a strategic challenge they were facing. Before this workshop, our team spent about six weeks researching the company and their key challenges in the marketplace, the competition and internal organizational issues. So, when we came together, we were prepared to help them meet their objectives and formulate their strategy going forward. It was important to understand the client’s challenge from different perspectives. Some other PwC teams on the account had done work in these areas, including colleagues in San Jose and San Francisco, but we also brought in subject matter specialists from New York City and PwC India who had experience in the space. In order to come to the workshop with leading practice-type ideas—we picked their brains to identify the common challenges they had seen in these areas. By leveraging the knowledge and skills of our colleagues from across the firm during preparation for the workshop, we were able to have a far more interactive and rewarding conversation with the client. It really was a team effort to come to the workshop fully prepared, with a perspective, and do it all in a tight timeframe. We got some incredible information from the client and executed the workshop to the client’s satisfaction. We were able to anticipate many of the questions and challenges that surfaced and had the information ready to work through it. These workshops create a buzz around the client. People talk about these events for months—they’re very impactful. We’ve seen so much success with the ASDs, and have helped a lot of our clients. They’re being rolled out to other clients, and are gaining momentum. It was an incredible opportunity to be a part of this workshop at an early stage in my career. I was given considerable responsibility and I learned so much professionally and personally.
Just in the past few years, I’ve had so many experiences that I could never have even dreamed of having. I’ve worked on a broad range of clients from software and consumer product companies to an online travel company where I learned about a call center application, the technology, and the strategy that goes behind it. I’ve also worked with a very large computer company that manages hundreds of accounts across the globe trying to improve their vendor relations. I helped the company understand where it could consolidate vendors and where the cost savings were.
The breadth of experience that you can get within consulting at PwC is really unmatched. I’ve been able to see how all these different organizations run, both within the same and completely different business areas. It’s very hard for people coming out of school to know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their career. Being exposed to all these different experiences has been really valuable to me, because it has allowed me to see all of these things and decide where I want to focus and, and ultimately, where I feel I can have the greatest impact. I have so many opportunities available to me and I feel that I am encouraged and supported to drive my career path the way I want to with PwC.