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Ian Jennings - Reflections on Houston life

John Legend ConcertA John Legend concert, the rodeo, and my first experience at an NBA game – these represent just a few of the highlights that I’ve been able to take in since arriving in Houston. While these are some of the highlights, I’ve also managed to meet some incredible people, learn some valuable new skills, and work on a number of different clients for half a dozen different managers. I’ve been able to experience a completely new industry and have worked on new audit areas that I wouldn’t traditionally face back home. It has been a very challenging and rewarding experience so far, and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.

Subsequent to the initial blog post, busy season set in – the hours were long and the work was challenging but I found myself happy to be surrounded by extremely dedicated, intelligent, and fun people. The same adage that applies back home was applicable here: enjoying the company of your team members can make the longer hours feel short. Since filing on my main audit client, I’ve been able to see more of the city and experience life in Houston outside of the audit room: I’ve been to the massive luxury mall called The Galleria, spent an afternoon at the Museum of Natural Science, and managed to eat at some fantastic restaurants across the city. Best of all, as a thank you for the team’s hard work, the Partner on my main client took us all to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – basically the Calgary Stampede on steroids – for an evening of great food, rodeo, and a John Legend concert  It was a wonderful gesture and a lot of fun.

Houston has been an eye-opening and rewarding experience. I’ve made some great friends, developed professionally and personally, and have been lucky enough to experience a lot of what Houston has to offer. There are only a few weeks left in my time down here, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new experiences and meet some more great people before heading home!

- Ian Jennings


Julia dans la Grosse Pomme – Comment prendre confiance en soi et se démarquer au travail

Julia ChanLors de mon affectation à Manhattan, j’ai eu l’occasion de travailler avec de nombreux leaders performants dans le secteur des fonds spéculatifs et au sein du groupe Investissements alternatifs de PwC. C’est un domaine dynamique, en constante évolution, où j’ai certainement eu ma part de défis à relever mais où j’ai également appris des choses importantes sur la confiance en soi et la façon de se démarquer au travail. Voici mes quelques conseils :

1. Posez des questions et montrez-vous curieux d’apprendre
Souvent, lorsque je travaille avec des gens qui ont une plus grande expertise que moi dans un domaine, je suis gênée de poser des questions sur ce qui peut sembler un savoir de base. Mais, poser des questions démontre non seulement votre désir d’apprendre mais vous permet d’acquérir des connaissances plus poussées dans un domaine, de mieux comprendre le client, de développer votre propre expertise et, finalement, d’apporter plus de valeur à ceux pour qui vous travaillez.

2. Faites connaître vos aspirations
Les compétences analytiques sont un aspect que je souhaite développer depuis le début de ma carrière chez PwC et, dès le départ, je l’ai laissé savoir à mes directeurs. Lorsqu’une nouvelle norme de comptabilité est entrée en vigueur, j’ai rappelé à mon directeur que j’aimerais contribuer à l’analyse des incidences sur notre client. Si vous rappelez à vos supérieurs que vous souhaitez plus de responsabilités, vous êtes en mesure de prendre l’initiative et la prochaine fois qu’une opportunité se présente, il est plus probable qu’on vous demande votre aide.

3. Valorisez ce qui vous différencie
Les Vendredis rétroaction sont un aspect important de la culture de PwC Canada. Les équipes se réunissent et donnent de la rétroaction ascendante et descendante dans un contexte détendu entre collègues, autour d’un café ou lors d’une sortie d’après-midi. Lorsque j’ai mentionné ce concept à mon équipe new-yorkaise, tout le monde était excité, n’ayant jamais pris part à ce genre d’activité auparavant. Suggérer de nouvelles idées en milieu de travail comporte une part de risque mais cela peut aussi s’avérer très fructueux.

4. Recherchez l’originalité
Souvenez-vous qu’il y a plusieurs façons d’accomplir vos tâches. Il m’arrive souvent de me perdre dans les détails et de perdre ma vision d’ensemble. En prenant le recul nécessaire pour comprendre le travail qui est à faire, je suis en mesure de proposer des approches nouvelles et plus efficaces.

5. Demandez régulièrement de la rétroaction à votre mentor
Chaque relation que vous établissez durant votre carrière est importante mais assurez-vous d’en développer une avec quelqu’un qui croit en vous et vous soutient. Demandez-lui souvent de la rétroaction et des conseils sur la façon de corriger vos lacunes. Une pause-café rapide est l’un des moyens les plus simples d’entamer la conversation.



Julia in the City: How to gain confidence and stand out on the job

Julia ChanOver the course of my assignment in Manhattan, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many successful leaders in the hedge fund sector and within PwC’s Alternative Investments group. The industry is dynamic and constantly evolving and . I’ve definitely had my share of challenges, but I’ve also learned some important things about how to gain confidence and stand out on the job:

1. Ask questions and show your interest in learning
Often times when I’m working with people who have greater expertise in an area than I do,  I feel intimidated to ask something that might seem like common knowledge. But asking questions not only shows your interest in learning, but lets you gain deeper industry knowledge better understand your client, become an expert in your field and ultimately bring more value to whoever you work for.

2. Be vocal about your aspirations
Analytical skills are something that I’ve been interested in developing throughout my career at PwC, which I let manager know from the get-go. When a new accounting standard came into effect, I reminded my manager that I wanted to help in the analysis of the impact to our client. When you remind your superiors of wanting to take more responsibility, you’ll be able to show initiative and the next time an opportunity comes up, you’re more likely to be asked to help out.

3. Embrace what sets you apart
Feedback Fridays are a big part of the PwC Canada culture where teams gets together to give both upward and downward feedback in a casual setting through a team coffee or an afternoon outing. When I brought up the concept of Feedback Fridays in New York, my team was excited since they’d never taken part in anything like it before. Suggesting something new in the workplace may be risky but can really go a long way.

4. Think outside the box
Remember that there are many ways to complete the work that you’re doing. Often times I’ll get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the bigger.  When I take a step back to understand what’s being done, I’m able to propose new and more efficient ways of working.

5. Seek out consistent feedback from your mentor
Every relationship you make in your career is an important one, but make sure you’re able to connect with someone that believes in you and supports you. Constantly ask for feedback and ask for ways to improve in areas of weakness. Just going for a quick coffee break to catch up can be one of the easiest ways to get the conversation going.




2014 National Co-op Employer of the Year

J_davidsonWe’re happy and humbled to share that we've been honoured as University of Guelph’s 2014 Co-op Employer of the year! We were nominated by Haley Jensen, who recently completed her co-op work terms as an associate within our Assurance group. We thought we’d let Haley tell you in her own words why she nominated us.

James Davidson,
Senior Manager – Campus Talent Acquisition


Why I nominated PwC for U Guelph’s National Co-op Employer of the Year

533326_10151475874040557_370866254_nThis was an easy decision for me. I can honestly say that not only did I continue to grow my skills with each co-op term at PwC, I but I also found a place where I really fit in with the people and the culture.   

Many students choose to experiment with new jobs in each of their co-op work terms, but I didn’t feel it was necessary because I knew I’d found the right fit. Everyone at PwC made me feel at home right away. Whether they were Managers, Partners or Associates, everyone was so welcoming and approachable. I never felt intimidated about asking questions.  In fact, I’d say I that questions are encouraged and welcomed – and everyone takes the time to help you succeed.

The thing I found the most unique about PwC as a co-op employer is that every employee is assigned a coach who guides you along your career path that you help define. A coach teaches and assesses you and helps you develop your skills. There’s a culture at PwC where people are encouraged to constantly learn new things and challenge themselves. There’s something called a “teach-don’t-tell” approach to learning here that’s really different because, rather than being told how to do something, you are prompted to find the solution yourself, which is really the best kind of learning you can get.

At PwC I’ve had the opportunity to work on teams and independently, with a wide range of clients in different industries. This has made me better able to apply and expand my accounting and audit knowledge, and build new relationships with co-workers and clients.
I’m happy to report that I just got a full-time offer from the firm and I’m so excited to continue my career journey here.

Haley Jensen


A Texan secondment: Settling in

Ian Jennings
     Ian Jennings Senior Associate

As I write this, I’m sitting in a downtown Houston apartment. In the background, American Netflix is blaring shows that are unavailable in Canada, leftover Tex Mex from last night’s dinner is warming in the oven, and the open blinds reveal a landscape that is wonderfully devoid of snow. This busy season is starting out pretty well!

My name is Ian Jennings and I’m an Experienced Senior Associate with the PwC Calgary office. After being born and raised in Alberta, I was anxious to work in a new environment. The American Short Term Assignment Program offered just such an opportunity, so I took advantage of it as soon as the program launched earlier this year. After three years of working on a range of clients in the Calgary office, I was excited to hear that I would be calling Houston my home away from home for three months. The opportunity to work on some new clients intrigued me and I had heard great things about the people in Houston.

                                         Loft-style condo

Since arriving, I’ve indulged in some fantastic food – Tex Mex, BBQ, and pizza so full of meat that it would make a vegetarian blush. I’ve toured downtown and midtown Houston to get my bearings, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit PwC’s downtown office where I was met by an extremely welcoming and diverse group of people from across the Southern States, Mexico, and parts of Central America.  As one of the few Canucks down here, I’ll admit that adjusting to the accent hasn’t been the easiest – I’ve been smiling and nodding politely ever since arriving while I scratch my head and wonder what exactly I’m agreeing to.

I haven’t started on any engagements yet, but I’m looking forward to sharing my experience over the next couple of months. For now, I’m well entertained, well fed, and warm and that’s a pretty good start.

-          Ian