Penelope is a manager in the Assurance practice who is on an international tour in Paris. She began her career at PwC as a summer intern within Investment Management and then began working full time within the Technology Market team. During her internship, she loved the culture and people at PwC, which was a major factor in her decision to accept a full-time position. With the support of her team and the firm, she was able to flex her work schedule to focus her attention on a family tragedy a few years ago, without compromising her professional development - and Penelope wants to share her story with others.
Q: You have a very powerful story.
A: Yes. My younger brother who has been the closest family member to me was assaulted while he was in college. He was in the ICU and in a coma for three months and couldn’t breathe or talk. It was a traumatic brain injury. He was only 19. I was 24.
At first, I took some time off. As the weeks went by, his condition got worse. He developed meningitis and his doctors said he wasn’t going to walk or talk again. I was responsible for signing off on the many operations he went through, taking the responsibility on for my family. When it was time to come back to work, my brother was still in a coma, so I was only able to work three days a week in the office, taking a five-and-a-half-hour drive to Syracuse later in the week to be with him and work from there.
When I think about where he is today, I think his progress is due to the at-home care and how good we are with him. Today, he walks short distances and gets very tired, but the fact is he’s walking and he’s talking so I think it’s an amazing miracle.
Q: Tell me about the support you received from your team during this hardship.
A: My team was absolutely amazing and how they reacted is one of the reasons I am still here at the firm.
I was incurring a lot of expenses including travel and food costs at the hospital and hotel. It was about $200 a night and we were there for several months. One of the partners with whom I worked, and am still very close with today, organized it so that the firm gave me $6,000 from the People Who Care fund. They also sent boxes of holiday gifts to the hospital, which was completely unexpected. It was nine months until my brother came home. We thought it would be only a few weeks at first so it was very hard on my family. But after all that I got promoted. I was very proud of myself because with everything that went on I was able to continue to focus on work and, while it was pretty hard on me, I’m grateful for everything PwC has done.
What meant the most from this experience was the moral support and the flexibility I received.
Q: And now you’re taking a global mobility assignment in Paris?
A: As an associate, I was interested in a global mobility assignment, but because of my brother’s situation, I thought there was no way I was ever going anywhere. I wound up having an opportunity for a strategic tour. When it was disclosed that it was with the French firm of the PricewaterhouseCoopers global network, I was very excited. During the interview process, one of the first things I communicated was that while I was absolutely committed, I would need to come home frequently and PwC was completely onboard and understanding. In fact, the tour wound up involving a little bit of traveling and while I will be based out of Paris I will get to travel to Slovakia and Madrid as well!
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