PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has been voted the UK's number one graduate employer for the last six years running. It offers a wide range of business-focused careers, from consultancy to law. Recent joiners from across the firm's six major business areas explain what they do and why they chose PwC.
Jodie Johnson // Associate 1
Before joining PwC, I studied psychology at York and I was a dancer for four years. I used to work for a company called New English Contemporary Ballet. I was a performer for a short time and then I helped them set up their education department. I ran a programme for students aged eight to eighteen, so they could come and train with a professional dance company. I also managed a youth dance company, which I used to take to the Edinburgh Festival. I became interested in the business side of what we were doing. I thought professional services would be a good place to learn more about business.
Because I'm in my first year, I'm still learning the basics. Everything I've done so far has been external audit work. For example, I've done some work on a company that makes filters for airplanes. I've also spent a lot of time at college studying for my Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA) exams. I've passed all six exams so far, but I've nine much bigger ones to go before I qualify. PwC provide plenty of support. You are assigned your own professional qualifications manager who you can speak to if you have any issues and there are all sorts of online resources. It's hard work but ultimately, it's well worth it to gain an extremely valuable qualification.
The best bit?
You get to meet different people all the time. I've been at different client sites every week since I started. In many other businesses I imagine I'd be stuck in one place doing the same things all the time. When I've been at the PwC office, I've usually worked in teams of between two to six people, which is another aspect of the job I really enjoy. You get a chance develop your skills and learn from some very impressive people.
Financial Advisory - forensic services
Katherine Firmin // Associate 2
After finishing my engineering degree at Glasgow University, I went to work for Ford for a couple of years, first in a project management role and then as an engineer. I worked on engine calibration. It was quite similar in some ways to what I'm doing now, in the sense that it was a very analytical type of job. After that, I joined the army for three years. My first job was in human resources - a support role in Iraq, then I moved to a civilian liaison job in Afghanistan. I was attracted to professional services because I wanted to use the analytical skills I learnt in engineering. I chose PwC because it's the biggest firm and it has the best reputation. I thought they offered the best training too. Forensic services seemed like one of the most interesting departments. It offers variety which means the work is never dull.
It includes a huge range of different activities. We might be involved in an investigation surrounding a large transaction. So, for example, if one company plans to buy another, forensics might be asked to investigate the target company to assist with price negotiations. Or if a client had a licensing agreement with another company, we might be asked to make sure that they were receiving the right amount of money back. But we also do non-financial investigations as well into management strategy or best practice.
The best bit?
The variety. Even though many people choose to specialise in certain areas as they progress, there is still a great deal of variety within those specialisms. The challenge of each job is different. You need to constantly develop new skills. I hope my experiences in the army will become increasingly useful as my career progresses. My management training will definitely help if I find myself leading a project. Working in engineering gives you the right mindset to approach some of the problems you're asked to solve at PwC.
RolandLeung // Associate1
I studied aeronautical engineering at Imperial College London. I enjoyed my degree course but, towards the end, I felt that the engineering industry in this country didn't offer the same opportunities for career progression as some other professions. There were quite a limited number of companies where the skills I'd learnt during my degree would be directly applicable. I wanted wider opportunities. After doing some research and attending careers events, I decided that professional services offered the most scope for varied career development. I felt I could go further there than anywhere else. I managed to secure an internship in the tax division at PwC in the summer of 2008. The internship gave me a great introduction to the firm - an overview of the whole business as well as a valuable insight into the tax department. I was involved in some real work, I wasn't photocopying or printing, I actually attended client meetings, which was a great experience. I also met many people who encouraged me to apply - people from all sorts of backgrounds who seemed to be doing a wide range of things. The variety was impressive. I applied to work in the tax department because it gave me the opportunity to use the problem solving and quantitative skills that I'd acquired during my degree.
I work in the private equity and mergers and acquisitions part of the tax department. We deal with many multi-national, FTSE 100 companies. We provide a number of services for them involving restructuring and refinancing. In simple terms, if a company is going through a merger or planning to acquire another company, they may ask us to work out what the most efficient tax structure would be for the newly acquired or merged organisation. This will have an impact on how the deal is put together - it may determine whether it goes ahead at all. There are also complex issues around managing the tax involved in the transaction process itself.
The best bit?
I chose this department because I was interested in mergers and acquisitions and the excitement and intensity associated with this sort of work. I joined relatively recently - I'm still doing my Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA) qualifications - but I hope one day to be involved in big transactions, working with bankers and lawyers getting deals through. That's what excites me about the job.
Edward Janvrin // Senior Associate
Before joining PwC, I was an infantry officer in the Gurkhas. What made me make the switch? Well, I had an amazing time in the army but for what I wanted, which was a huge challenge and a lot of adventure, the best times of your army career are the first five to ten years. After that, your life in the army changes radically. It becomes more back office based. That was the major reason why I left the army. Why did I choose PwC? I wanted to learn about businesses and how they ran. I thought that the best way to do that was to see a wide variety of businesses through projects and through consulting. I felt that my background in people management, project management, strategic thinking and dealing with supply chains would help - and it has.
Consulting is about delivering solutions to organisations that have particular problems that they want to solve and can't, for one reason or another, solve themselves. If it was uncontrolled I could end up in all sorts of places doing very different activities. But if you like doing certain projects you can sell your skills to partners who are winning that kind of work from clients. At any one time, a consultant will have a number of irons in the fire - projects he knows are coming up. Personally, I'm interested in organisational effectiveness and supply chain optimisation. If that kind work comes up then I will try to grab it.
The best bit?
Two things. First, the variety - every client has completely different set of problems that need solving. The projects you work on could be a couple of weeks long or last for a year or more. You're never bored. The second thing is working with outstanding individuals. PwC has very high quality people. In consultancy you work in small specialised teams. It's a great challenge to work with such bright people. I loved the army and I met some incredible people there but at PwC every single individual is a specialist. It's an extremely rewarding environment. Things move very, very quickly.
Orla Lowe // Trainee Solicitor
I read economics at Edinburgh University and, like a lot of undergraduates, spent many evenings in my last two years going along to events and meeting people from different companies to see what was out there. I decided to do an internship at PwC just because of the people I met. I had a general interest in business so it seemed like a good place to start. I really enjoyed the internship. However, as the year went on I became progressively more interested in doing law but I wanted to retain a commercial focus. I had an offer to start with PwC in assurance but I told them I was interested in doing law, mentioned PwC Legal and things proceeded from there.
PwC Legal is a fully functioning law firm, which offers the full range of legal services. We are not an in-house law firm and we have our own separate clients. However, we also provide legal services to PwC's clients. We might work with the tax team, for example, on restructuring or with the financial advisory department on merges and acquisitions. The link with PwC offers unique advantages and opportunities. For example, I was able to spend six months on secondment, working in the business recovery department of PwC, which is an experience I wouldn't have had if I'd have been at a typical law firm. It also means that, although we are smaller (in terms of numbers) than a magic circle law firm, we have access to a huge range of major clients. I'm working with household names, which I wouldn't have a chance to do at other law firms of a similar size.
The best bit?
The client contact. Because we're smaller than a magic circle set, the teams that we work in are more client-focused. Rather than having five different layers between the client and myself, I get to speak to them on a daily basis. Also, the people in my team are a great bunch, we work well together - they're always open to suggestions and new ideas.
Rupesh Bhudia // Associate 1
I studied Maths at Warwick. Until my second year of University, I didn't really know what an actuary was. It was only through going to graduate events that I realised what opportunities there were in this area. It appealed to me because it seemed to be one of the few careers where I'd be able to directly apply what I'd learnt at university. There aren't too many professions where you get to use your knowledge in a practical, business environment.
Historically, actuaries were used by insurance companies to ensure that they had enough assets to cover any liabilities. This is what's called reserving and it involves working out how many claims insurers are likely to have in the future. To do this, we use probability calculations based on data from previous years. You also have to take into account any new factors which might affect the market. These days, actuaries do a lot more than just your basic reserving jobs. Because of our modeling capabilities, we are increasingly involved in wider fields. For example, we could work with a healthcare provider to model the effects of what would happen if a certain number of people stopped smoking. What reductions would there be in different types of diseases? We could provide quantitative answers. Or we could model a bank's exposure to credit risk - what would happen if a certain number of people defaulted on their debts?
The best bit?
It's very exciting to work in an area where new fields are constantly developing. You might be involved in a new project on something that's never been done before. There's obviously a huge scope for learning and a chance to create new methods. I can't think of a more exciting environment to work in.