How did your career start?
When I decided to study Accounting and Finance at Leeds University, I didn’t expect to end up working in consulting. I thought my career would follow the usual path of accountancy – training in a large accountancy firm, getting my ACA qualification and eventually setting up my own practice a number of years down the line.
My career did start off this way, and I joined the public services team at PwC in Leeds fresh out of university on their graduate programme, training to be a Chartered Accountant.
During the interview process I met some great people and heard more about the structured training programme so I was really excited about joining a professional services organisation which would invest in me, and that I’d get the opportunity to work with some great people.
What was your experience of the graduate programme?
I spent my first two years at PwC balancing college with client work, gaining fantastic client experience which I could use to enhance my college work, and vice versa.
The graduate programme provided a strong support network, and was a great way to meet people – I’m still in touch with a number of the other graduates to this day (in fact, I met the ‘man in my life’ there who I am still with, 12 years on).
The ACA training and exams are comprehensive, fast-paced and challenging. I managed, to my relief, to obtain first time passes in all of the exams, and was delighted to qualify as a chartered accountant in 2004.
Describe how your role has changed over the years
After the graduate programme, I spent the next three years consolidating my experience with internal and external audit clients.
Building the client relationships was one of the most rewarding parts of the job, but I started to crave a new challenge and a chance to really help change how an organisation worked.
I didn’t want to leave PwC, so instead I took on a couple of projects within the public sector consulting practice, just to see how that work was different to my current role. My first project was with a City Council, advising them on their procurement of a residual waste treatment facility. This really tested my project management, presentation, and technical skills, but from that moment on, I knew that I could see my future in consulting.
Six years on, and following a promotion in 2009 to Senior Consultant, I now lead a number of our projects with local authorities across the UK in the procurement area of our Consulting practice.
How did you get to your position?
With a lot of hard work, passion for what I do, and commitment from myself and others to support my career progression. I’ve seized the opportunities to develop myself – building strong project management and commercial skills, having the ability to communicate and build relationships, and teamwork and leadership skills.
Looking back, I’ve achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time. I’ve always worked for PwC, and yet I’ve still had the opportunity to experience two different cities, and two different jobs, rising from a graduate to a Manager in Assurance, and now to a Senior Consultant in Consulting.
What do you enjoy most about working at PwC?
What I love about PwC in particular is the positive reaction to change – my move to consulting from assurance was fully supported, as was my move to London from Leeds. This support has helped me to pursue new and exciting challenges but within the comfort of the same company. This was one of the reasons I joined PwC, and is definitely one of the main reasons that I’m still here. It’s also what consulting is all about – change.
I also really enjoy working with the public sector, in particular local government. The next five years will be particularly exciting in this sector, the decisions made by local government impact on daily life, and I get to be part of helping them to arrive at decisions.
What does the future look like for you?
I’m excited about what the future holds for me. Our Consulting practice has significant growth plans, and there are so many opportunities to choose from. It’s knowing which one to pursue which is the hardest decision. Why am I still in consulting? Well, consulting offers a breadth of experience and development opportunities which I don’t think can be matched – you get early responsibility, diversity of work and the opportunity to work with some great people and great clients.
You’re encouraged to use your initiative, challenge current thinking and make a difference. It may sound clichéd, but I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather work, and I hope that each year is as rewarding, if not more so, than the last.