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What to Expect When Joining the Big 4? "My Experience at PwC"

Posted by Maisie Horrell

Joining a Big 4 firm can seem daunting when you don't know exactly what to expect or what you'll be doing when you first join. Maisie Horrell, Consultant at Pro-Tax, spoke with a female tax professional who recently joined PwC. She previously worked for a Top 10 accountancy practice for five years before making the move to the Big 4 with the help of Pro-Tax. Below, she speaks about the interview process at PwC, what happened in her first week on the job, and the difference between working at a Top 10 and a Big 4 firm.
 

What were your reasons behind wanting to move to PwC?

I wanted to make the move to PwC primarily because I wanted to gain more exposure working with larger clients and I wanted to work in a larger team that would enable me to learn from others around me. I was slightly worried at first that as a Big 4 firm, they were going to want ‘blood sweat and tears’ as this is often a common perception, but since my very first meeting with PwC I have been pleasantly surprised!
 

What was the interview process like and how did you find it?

The interview process at PwC was surprisingly stress-free, slick and very informative. It consisted of a first stage meet-and-greet with two Directors, where I was able to find out more information about the team I would be joining, the role, and what my day-to-day role would look like.

I received feedback within just a couple of days and my final-stage formal interview was arranged very quickly. As opposed to the first meet-and-greet stage this interview focused more on technical questions and my suitability for the role, but I still felt at ease and comfortable the whole hour I was being interviewed.

Three days after my formal interview I received an offer, which I was delighted about! The fact that it was such a quick process which made me feel at ease, made the idea of moving to PwC all the more attractive to me. I was invited back again to meet other people on my team in an informal setting, just so I could get a feel for the working environment and culture, which was fantastic as it meant that on my first day I already knew some friendly faces.
 

What was your first week at PwC like?

  • Day 1 - PwC Induction

I was invited to listen to guest speakers who talked through how to manage stress and the best ways to achieve a good work-life balance, which in today’s world I think is incredibly important.

  • Day 2 - Tax Induction

There was a group of around 30 people from across all areas of tax within PwC, and we participated in group interactive exercises.

  • Day 3 - Office Tour

On the third day I had a tour of the building and I met my allocated buddy.

  • Day 4 - Introductions

I had my first day in my team with introductions to everyone I would be working closely with and getting to know the ropes.
 

What have you found positive moving from a Top 10 to a Big 4 Firm?

  • From day 1 you are allocated a ‘career coach’, who is usually a Manager or Senior Manager within your team who helps you with all areas of your career development, including promotions, work allocation, options to specialise, and secondment opportunities (whether this is internationally or to different departments within tax or the wider business)

  • Every Wednesday my particular team has a fundamentals session for juniors - this is a training session where as a group, we discuss new tax legislation

  • On Thursday each week we then have a Business Development session and discuss how we can take new cases to market, which is very helpful in enabling the team to become more commercially minded - something I have noticed about everyone at PwC from the very beginning of my career here

  • I have also noticed that the way PwC advises is a lot more innovative than at my previous firms - the ways in which people work here is inspiring, and they continuously spot opportunities in other areas of the market that I don’t think other teams would right away

  • I have found that I am working with such a mix of personalities - both my team and the wider business are so diverse and I’ve met such a wide range of people which makes work all the more interesting. This also means that I can bounce ideas off more people, making my work well-rounded as I learn from the people around me

  • The business is all completely paperless which means everything runs smoothly and efficiently, with processes you wouldn’t always necessarily find at a smaller firm

  • Unlike the common perception I haven’t found myself, or anyone else on my team, working crazy long hours, and having a healthy work-life balance is encouraged from day one

  • Working at PwC I have noticed a much quicker turnaround in terms of work - when comparing this to firms outside of the Top 10, firms can sometimes lack innovation and urgency

  • Everyone delves much deeper into the technical analysis of everything we do so that we can improve and innovate constantly, and as a firm PwC invests so much in improving themselves as well as their technology and systems

  • One final and important thing that PwC do really well, is investing in people. They invest so much into personal development - you are encouraged to carve a niche for yourself from the beginning and to ask for feedback on everything, so you can improve after every piece of work you do. Your career is totally in your hands and you are given every opportunity to progress and develop. I think that working at PwC is going to make me a much more well-rounded advisor and for me, it's the best place to be for self-development and career progression - it’s an opportunity that I don’t think I fully appreciated until I actually got here!

 

For more information on this article, or to speak to Maisie Horrell about making your move into a Big 4 firm, contact her on 020 7269 6337 or maisie.horrell@pro-tax.co.uk.

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