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Your 9-to-5 can be what you make of it. Penny Partridge on flexibility at work

                        Penny Partridge, PwC Canada’s
                        National Human Resources Leader


Our lives don’t fit 9 am to 5 pm every day. I say, don’t fight it, work with it.

It comes down to flexibility. I choose to integrate, rather than compartmentalize, the things that matter in life. I see this as the ability to do some of the things I love, with the people I love doing those things with, when it makes the most sense for them. To ”compartmentalize” would probably mean get kids to school, work until 5, then wait until dinner with the family to find out about what I missed. To ”integrate” means I do a little more mixing and matching. For example, I might take a few hours out of my work schedule because I can be there for the things that really matter to my kids - and to me. I get to live the things I might otherwise only hear about around the dinner table.

These things all fall in the bucket of: What I will not give up. I swim. I’m into drama and I’m studying at Second City right now (Saturday Night Live, here I come!). I love participating in my kids’ lives in and around school activities. Thanks to our flexible way of working at PwC, I can integrate all these things in my life. When I work, I am all in. When I am at Second City, I am all in. It can be done!

We’ve worked hard at PwC to build a culture where it is very safe to discuss and grant flexibility requests, and it’s acceptable to try different things.  

It starts with you, though. It may take a little courage at first, but be honest with your colleagues about what you’re passionate about. I like that we are open to trying new ways of working; breaking a bit of that “nine-to-five” mold.

We know you want more than to “just do work”. But we can’t guess at what else you might want… so ask! Look for mentors that can share with you what flexibility has looked like for them. You may be surprised about how this also informs your career trajectory. By building this network of mentors, you’ll not only be more comfortable in your understanding of how to be flexible at work, and you’ll draw from the career experiences of your mentorship circles. You might just get a glimpse into your future with PwC… so what do you have to lose?

- Penny

 Find out more about PwC's flexibility programs


From an engineering grad who knows why “PwC Rocks”

Jordan Downing, Senior Associate in Consulting

I graduated from Queens’ with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 2011. After traveling for several months I started to search for what I assumed I needed: a traditional engineering job. That’s when I discovered PwC and the opportunities it has for engineering grads in Consulting. The more I learned about the firm and about the fast-paced environment and learning culture, the more interested I became – so I joined the Consulting practice in the fall of 2012.

I love that I’m able to apply the critical thinking, and problem-solving skills I developed through engineering in my day-to-day work. Now, I apply them to businesses and organizations instead of physical systems or machines. But my love of music is also something that’s really important to me, so as soon as I found out about PwC Rocks – our internal Battle of the Bands competition – I knew I had to get involved. I’ve participated every year since.

The firm organizes a meet-and-greet for interested, musical PwC Professionals in the spring. It’s held at a rehearsal studio where everyone gets to know each other, discusses the types of music we like to play and jams to see which sounds gel. I’m a drummer, so after connecting with two guitarists and a bassist, we formed The Sunk Costs.

As a Senior Associate, being in a band with two Partners and a Senior Manager – all from different areas of the firm – was really cool. As one of the more experienced musicians in the band, it was almost like the dynamic we usually have in the office was flipped around. Instead of me learning from them, I had seasoned professionals turning to me and asking, “Okay, Jordan – how should I handle this transition?”

Balancing rehearsals with work, travel and family commitments was challenging for us – but we’re all involved with PwC Rocks because we love music, so we made it work! The feeling you get when you go on stage at The Hoxton to perform for your coworkers and friends is incredible – I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been! I will definitely be participating next year too, and I’m really looking forward to the Big 4 Battle of the Bands on October 21.

-Jordan Downing


How to impress at your PwC Professional Talent Centre

Ali and James at PPTC, Vancouver 2015
@voiceofjamesd with @ataylor_campus at
PPTC Vancouver

Over the last few years we’ve introduced PwC Professional Talent Centres (PPTCs) to our recruiting process for certain offices and areas of our business.  You can learn more about them on our website here.

Why?  We want to ensure that our recruiting process helps you truly identify our culture, provides an opportunity for you to show us your skills beyond your resume (which is statistically more reliable than just talking about them in an interview) and  us to assess those elements of a candidate’s performance that are more difficult to assess using interviews alone.

This approach isn’t “new recruitment science” and has been used by organisations in other fields, such as Consulting and Finance, and CPA recruiting in other countries for many years.  You’ll therefore be able to find lots of help on the web if you search ‘assessment centres’.

Before you jump on Google though, quickly review these tips from me:

  • Be your best authentic self. Smile and project confidence, even when you’re feeling a little nervous
  • Get a good night’s sleep and ensure you dress the part as this also helps with confidence
  • Listen to all instructions carefully.  Ask questions to ensure you understand next steps before proceeding
  • When approaching case-based information (such as in our written and group discussion exercises) be sure to consider both the quantitative and qualitative data
  • Speak up. If you don’t speak within the group discussion exercise, it makes it challenging for us to assess you, so ensure you get your points across
  • If you have a logical reasoning assessment as part of your PPTC, you should practice similar assessments on the web
  • Prepare for your Partner interview using the tips I gave in my interview blog

Making it to a PPTC means you’ve demonstrated some key elements of the PwC Professional behaviours we look for. Regardless of how you perform, we’ll provide verbal feedback to everyone who attends a PPTC, so there’s some valuable learning for you from the process.

If you’re coming in to meet us at a PPTC, a special good luck from me to you.







You got an interview!!! – What next?

JamesFirstly, a massive congratulations! Securing an interview is incredibly competitive. You’re over one of the biggest hurdles, but how do you ensure you do well and get a good feeling of our culture as you come through?

Be yourself

It’s critical that you’re yourself. On paper you look awesome, so now we want to spend more time getting to know you better. This is also your opportunity to get to know us even better too.

Cultural fit is key and if you pretend to be something you’re not, that won’t be an authentic interview or a good fit for you. We don’t look for one specific type of person, so embrace who you are and be passionate in articulating that to us.

Try to smile and enjoy the experience, this will help you project confidence – as will dressing the part.

Be prepared

Behavioural questions:

As I mentioned, there’s no one ‘fit’ for PwC. However, we will look for your strengths against the PwC Professional dimensions, against which everyone at PwC demonstrates and develops. You should spend some time reviewing this on our website and think about which examples you can use from your university, work experiences, sports, societies and volunteering experiences.

Remember to pick from a range of examples so you’re not constantly using the same experience to answer questions.

Are you a STAR?:

For behavioural interview questions, answer these questions as fully as you can:

  • Tell us about the Situation first.
  • Then tell us about the Task.
  • Follow this with the Actions you took.
  • Finally, tell us about the Result of your actions.

Technical questions:

We’ll also be looking for you to demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the area of our business to which you applied and your knowledge of what you’d do on a day-to-day basis with us. Our ‘What we do pages ’ are great for this, as is the job description and your prior interactions with us.

If the role includes completing the CPA either immediately or at a later date, you should know your pathway and what this looks like.

Ask us questions

One of the worst things you can do in an interview is not ask any questions.

First and foremost, it’s your opportunity to gain more detailed information from your interviewer’s personal experience. This helps you further assess us and our culture.

Secondly, asking some pertinent questions targeted to things you’ve read lets you demonstrate additional research and passion for us, whilst gaining your interviewer's point of view on this too.

Good luck from everyone at PwC.




Get your resume and cover letter past the first stage of the application process

James natasha and nidhi at talent academy
@voiceofjamesd, @natasha_campus, @NidhiBhasin_1

It’s a tough fact, but the majority of applications never make it past the first stage of a process, the resume/application review. Having a well-structured, clear and focused resume will help you emphasize your achievements and unique promise of value to an organization.


Will your CV put the recruiter to sleep or stand up and take notice?

Your resume and cover letter should make compelling reading. 

Your cover letter should have a clear narrative that demonstrates your knowledge and research on the organization you’re applying to. It should also highlight some of your key experiences. And here’s the critical thing: these experiences should tie back to the role to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the organization/role that you’re applying for.

If you can swap out one organization name with another organization, your cover letter does not demonstrate sufficient research and insight into your potential employer. This will likely land you in the ‘no pile’.

You should adopt a consistent tone and tense throughout your documents. There should be no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. These documents should demonstrate your best piece of work to an employer; one riddled with errors leads a recruiter to believe that your work would be too. 

Your cover letter should be no more than a page and your resume should be no more than two.

A checklist for what should be in your resume

Your resume should include: 

  • Contact details (name, mobile number, an email address, website or LinkedIn profile URL)
  • A statement/objective (tailored to the role you’re applying to)
  • Education and any additional training
  • Career history (name of the employer, job title, dates of employment, responsibilities and your achievements in the role)
  • Extra-curricular involvement, including sports teams, clubs and societies, and volunteering experience (much like your employment, this should detail dates, responsibilities and achievements)

 Focus on the impact you’ve made in a role or a project

All too often, I see resumes that list facts and responsibilities without a focus on an individual’s achievements. It’s a focus on achievements that will help you stand apart at this stage. 

Consider your work experience and extra-curricular activities, what did you achieve in these roles?

  • How did you add value?
  • Did you exceed targets?
  • How much revenue did you generate?
  • How effective were you at budgetary management?
  • How many new members joined?
  • How much money did you raise?

Ultimately, many students have similar experiences, whether it be customer service-type roles and sports and society involvement. Simply listing these is not sufficient to make you stand out. What will make you stand out is a focus on your achievements, in a clearly structured and well written cover letter and resume.

Good luck. Leave a comment below and @mention me your views or suggestions for future blog posts at @voiceofjamesd.