Career Advice Job Market Trend Report

Rewarding 'LEAP' of faith at PwC

To reflect changing times and targets, the Big Four accountancy firms like to pick a theme or slogan for their annual on-campus hiring initiatives. This time, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have gone for "What's in it for you? The opportunity of a lifetime", emphasising their view that accountancy qualifications really do point the way to any number of future career options.

That, of course, is one thing students hope to hear. With the economy still beset by uncertainty, anyone making decisions about their post-university life wants to know that they are getting into a field that will offer progress, flexibility and choice, as well as the challenges expected in a professional role.

"Our comprehensive learning and development programme ensures graduates obtain all the necessary training in technical and business skills," says Nora Wu, Asia-Pacific human capital leader at PwC. "This means they grow as individuals and are ready to make an impact professionally."

For recent recruits, the process entails regular feedback from an assigned in-house "coach". The firm also puts particular emphasis on having a corporate culture which promotes collaboration and fosters creativity and teamwork. In this way, graduates can learn from talented peer groups through formal instruction and via early on-the-job interaction with clients who include some of the world's most recognisable companies.

"We are proud to hire people with diverse backgrounds and educational qualifications. Not all come with a business degree," Wu says. "We want them to share our vision and deliver the very best, while developing their careers in a structured way."

Aside from academic credentials, the firm is on the lookout for candidates who show good leadership potential and have an open mind. The international nature of the business means that interpersonal and language skills are vital.

These abilities are especially needed if employees subsequently take up a role under the firm's global mobility programme. Such overseas assignments offer an opportunity to broaden horizons and, in doing so, to acquire the experience and international outlook to become a well-rounded, effective business leader.

"This helps to ensure a pool of talented people and a positive work environment, but it also translates into added benefits for our clients," Wu says.

For an increasing number of graduates, the PwC recruitment process begins, in effect, well before the formal application and interview. They have the chance to impress much earlier. Each year, the firm offers a limited number of internships in areas such as advisory, audit and assurance, and tax. In addition, an affiliated student club, known as "LEAP", operates on university campuses in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

The club's main purpose is to pass on first-hand information about the accountancy profession and PwC's business and culture.

"Each student member can learn and grow through participation in the programme," Wu says. "They also become better equipped with the sort of skills, qualities and competencies needed to succeed in their future career."