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Meet our alumni

We are proud of the successes of our Alumni and their contributions to a diverse range of businesses.

Roger Wilkes

Roger Wilkes

Chief Operating Officer, Kobre & Kim

Striving to make positive change

During a recent conversation, Roger Wilkes discussed his experience at PwC, his passion as a leader, and the best advice he can offer others.

What were your early years like?
I am originally from Trinidad and Tobago, where I had a very good childhood—with loving parents and a sheltered life—but they were strict about education. I came here [to the U.S.] to go to university. I thought I’d go back to Trinidad after completing my studies, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I studied public accountancy at Baruch College, City University of New York. I stayed in New York after getting my first job at AIG on Wall Street, during which time I obtained my master of business administration degree.

Did you always know you wanted to work in business?
No. Early on, I thought I’d become a doctor, a pediatrician or a pulmonologist—and that’s kind of funny now because my spouse is a doctor. Then, for some time, I thought I would become a TV news journalist. I was on TV in Trinidad quite a bit as a teenager—you can still probably find a reel somewhere out there. But in high school, I took accounting classes, and I loved them, so I continued in that area. 

What drew you to PwC, and kept you there for almost 20 years?
When I walked in the door, I already respected the brand and I just saw this world of possibilities. I joined PwC in the assurance practice. Early on, I was involved in corporate reporting transparency projects, and I had the opportunity to meet with and present to clients, work with engagement teams, develop content, and develop tools. From there, I just made myself available and took advantage of opportunities that came my way. I always felt so fortunate to work with so many smart people at PwC. I felt like I could learn something from everyone in the entire ecosystem. Finally, the technology: Long before the pandemic, we could work from anywhere. I loved that. As I reflect, I think the experience I had at PwC was really among the top experiences in my life. I still regularly recommend the firm to candidates, and I’ve given the firm more business since I left!

As the COO at a law firm now, what was your experience like through the pandemic?
It has been an extremely challenging time, which I’m cautious even saying because so many people lost loved ones and experienced trauma. But just speaking from my professional point of view, I remember long conversations with our leadership team about when to close the office and ultimately suggesting we close quickly. It was difficult, especially at the beginning. We closed our offices a day before New York announced its official lockdown, at a time when we weren’t fully set up for a remote workplace. But we rapidly deployed laptops to our employees across the world and it was amazing how fast we were able to make it possible for people to continue to do business uninterruptedly during a pandemic. That was no small feat.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I’d like to think I'm a flexible yet results-oriented leader who also strives to be transformational in my approach to change. In the long term, one of my continuous goals is striving to make positive change, to always make things better for the people who work at my organization and for the firm itself. Additionally, in the day-to-day, I provide coaching and guidance to others. I’ve been told that people feel I care about them, and that means a lot to me because it’s true. Finally, I try to be participatory as a leader, but at the same time, recognize that as the leader I have to be decisive and unapologetic about the fact that I am. That is important.

Last month, February, was Black History Month. What does that mean to you?
I think it’s fantastic because it gives us a moment to celebrate so many Black people who have made significant contributions throughout history. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on where we are now. We’re slowly realizing, as a society, that we can no longer stay silent about societal racial injustice and social injustice. We should speak out against it. It's about taking a stand; it's about taking a position. 

What’s the best advice you can offer others?
Learn the business that you're in. I believe that everyone is a stakeholder in an organization, so you should try to understand what makes your business click and take every opportunity to learn. Also, know and believe that change is possible—even if you have to start small. In some instances, I’ve had to say, “How about we just dip one toe in the water, and see how it goes?” Then a couple of years later, we look back and people can hardly imagine operating differently than the new way. That’s what I love most about my work - being able to contribute to tangible change in positive ways that have resulted in sustainable business growth.

Contact us

Kerri Murphy

Kerri Murphy

US/MX Alumni Network Leader, PwC US

Sallie Hinson

Sallie Hinson

US Alumni Network team, PwC US

Weslee Yacker

Weslee Yacker

US Alumni Network team, PwC US

Heather Norbury

Heather Norbury

US Alumni Network team, PwC US

Amanda Ritchey

Amanda Ritchey

US Alumni Network team, PwC US

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