Opportunities on your doorstep

A career at Big Four professional services firm PwC can take you in many different directions. Lucy Mair finds out about the firm's regional offices across the UK

Head of Regions, Stephanie Hyde

What attracted you to join PwC as a graduate?

I did a BA in Maths and Management at Brunel University, and initially I'd considered going into engineering. Then I met some people from PwC at a careers fair, and it was clear from the beginning that the firm wanted to invest in me as a person. I was interested in a career in finance, so the work sounded interesting to me: visiting lots of companies, understanding what drives their business, and getting exposure to many different situations. I also felt that joining the firm would give me a fantastic qualification foundation for life. PwC supports you through taking exams and earning professional qualifications, and also encourages your personal development, for example through coaching in negotiation and management skills.

How has your career progressed since joining the firm?

In 1995, I joined the Uxbridge office in audit and assurance, focusing on owner-managed businesses, but I also spent some time in tax and consultancy during the first few years. As I developed my qualifications and my role progressed, I began to work with larger overseas-owned and private equity-backed companies. Soon after, I moved to London for a few years and worked with one of the top FTSE 100 companies, a very large and complex multinational business. I then returned to Uxbridge and, still focusing primarily on audit, I worked with mid-tier pharmaceutical and bio-tech clients. I was promoted to partner in 2006, and took on a leadership role in PwC's assurance practice in Reading. Recently, I was appointed Head of Regions on the Executive Board.

What does your role as Head of Regions involve?

The role involves determining regional strategy and visiting the regional offices both to implement the strategy, and to get feedback on how they're getting on. Half of PwC's people are based across the regions and our business here is very diverse, so engaging with everyone is important to make sure they feel included and understand how they fit into the business.

Why is having a network of regional offices important to PwC?

Two thirds of our business in the UK involves the 26 regional offices and 40 per cent of our revenue comes from outside of London, so they're a very important part of our firm. One of the great strengths of PwC is that we have a national presence and a strong global footprint, but we're also able to service our clients locally. Many of our clients are spread across the UK, and it's essential for us that we're accessible to them, and that we have local knowledge as well.

Having our network of offices also means that people here have the opportunity to move around the UK if they wish to do so.

What is PwC's regional strategy for the future?

We're focusing on regional growth and aiming to expand our regional practice by working with businesses across the UK. One area of focus for us is working with more privately owned companies, which currently make up around 20 percent of our business.

We've worked closely with a number of regional companies as they've gone from their initial starting phase, through expanding, exporting, buying other companies, and in some cases listing on the stock exchange as well, which is always very exciting! We're also seeing particular pockets of regional growth. In Aberdeen, for example, we have a strong business servicing oil and gas companies there, while in Edinburgh, the financial services sector is growing significantly. Cambridge is a particular hub for technology and innovation companies, and we're experiencing more general growth in London, the South East and the Midlands.

We're also growing in terms of market share, because increasing numbers of clients want to work with us, and we want to work with them too!

What are the benefits of working in a regional office?

You don't need to go to London to get broad experience. You can do a huge variety of types of work in the regions. In our regional offices, we look after smaller local clients through to listed multinationals. Owner-managed businesses moving through their growth cycle have very different challenges and considerations to top-tier clients who may operate in 80 countries globally. This variety gives our people a significant opportunity to challenge themselves personally through their work. And, if you're working with smaller clients, you have the chance to see the whole of their business, rather than focusing on just one aspect of it as you might do when working with larger ones - so the exposure offered in the regions is a fantastic way to learn, and boost your career potential.

In addition, many of our regional offices are smaller than those in London, which means you get to know everybody and feel part of a very close team.