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Back to Schools

(aged 13-18)

Our pre-recorded Business Back to Schools session offers students aged 13-18 an insight into the world of business and raises awareness of the different entry routes into PwC. The session lasts approximately 45 minutes and is delivered by PwC employees. Watch the session below.

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28:37

Business Back to Schools session

Transcript

Good day everyone. Welcome to the PwC Back to School session. I'd like to welcome you on PwC’s behalf. As this is a recorded session, what I would like to say is if you have any questions following this session, please feel free to email the events mailbox that you can see at the bottom of your screen there, which is uk_schools_recruitment@pwc.com.

So what's this session all about? So what we're going to do is we’re going to get to know PwC, your hosts and our business. Then we're going to develop your skills, work on developing your skills. And lastly, we're going to think about your options.

So your hosts today are myself (I'm on the left) and my name's Simon and my colleague Haley. And we're just going to start by telling you a bit about our journey with PwC. So my journey, so I've been with the firm for 27 years, which is a long time. While I was at school, I was fine at school. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed some of the lessons, but not all of them. I was part of the football team, which I really enjoyed and I had a good community of friends. I wasn't worried or anxious about anything while at school. I was kind of quite confident and relaxed. So yes, school was pretty, pretty good for me. My kind of dream was obviously to be a professional footballer! That didn't materialise for whatever reasons. So I'm pretty happy with that. The challenges overcome, probably for me would have been staying on the right track. So basically coming from my kind of background stuff, I think what helped me was the fact that I had football and the fact I got a job working with PwC quite early on in life. That's what kind of helped me. Probably similar to some of you guys, when I was at school, I hadn't heard of PwC or other corporate firms in the city or the west end. So I wasn't aware of what was out there career-wise and going. When we did kind of career days, and you look through newspapers but you don't see careers. So you’re kind of at an advantage already by having probably us hosting this session for you and sharing what we can with you. What my career means. My career means everything because it’s given me opportunities that I probably didn't have as a child growing up, the opportunity to travel, to buy a home, kind of provide for the family, not through any fault of my parents or anything, but it's given me a very good life. It's easy for me to switch off and manage my work life balance because obviously once I leave the office and I've done my day's work, I can switch off, go home and relax and enjoy that with my family. There's nothing I don't like about PwC. I love every day that I’m in, because every day is different. And our office is a very diverse and inclusive company, which is really great. So no matter what background you come from, your race, religion, PwC kind of caters for all and welcomes everyone. And basically, when I show up for myself, I’m kind of approachable, honest, try and be positive and try to do my best. Some of our strengths would probably be my calmness under pressure and I try to develop by stretching myself, trying to improve myself every day and kind of carry out training; the firm do provide a lot of training. So that's it for me. Over to Haley.

Hi everybody. So I kind of went back and thought about what I was good at in school, what were good subjects, what I enjoyed, and I was always into Art. So how I ended up as an accountant is questionable, isn't it? I was really unsure what I wanted to do as a job at school. And I suppose that carried on through college and sixth form, still really unsure. And I actually trained to be a lifeguard just as a “just in case” job, just in case that’s where I ended up. I went to University and studied International Business. I was supposed to do a year abroad but that didn't end up happening. So after university, I was still in the position that I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I tried teaching. I worked with primary school children for nearly 4 years; I decided teaching wasn't for me, I couldn't take that step to become an actual teacher. So I applied for PwC. It took me a couple of attempts actually to get in so don't feel like you're going to get the job you want straight away and don't be worried about applying again. I knew it was the sort of firm that I wanted to work for, so I just tried again and I'm two years into my role in Forensic Services and I'm a Senior Associate. And that is my journey really so far. Obviously, I'm only two years into the role so quite early on in my career.

Excellent. Thank you.

So who are PwC? So we’re a firm of professional advisors who help clients solve their business problems. What we'll do is, if you want to pause the video here and give yourself a moment just to write down or discuss between yourselves your thoughts of “what do you associate with PwC?” and then we'll come back afterwards and discuss those points.

So welcome back. So what might be some of the things that you guys might have written down? What I would do at this point is probably move over to Haley who is in what we call the Lines of Service. Myself, I'm part of Internal Firm Services. So I'm not actually a fee earner with the business, I’m part of the workplace management team. And I basically help to manage the day-to-day operations of the building. So that's basically when people like Haley come into the offices around the country, they’re welcomed by our security teams, our front of house teams. We've got our engineers on site, housekeeping teams, print and post room guys, engineers, etc. So I'll give Haley a chance just to talk about the kind of Line of Service sides from PwC's point of view.

Sure. So I suppose the first thing most people associate with PwC is that we’re just, everybody's an accountant, which yes, there're a lot of accountants at PwC, but we also have so many different lines of services but also so many different specialists. So one thing, I don't know if you knew this Simon, but we actually have a drone team. Don’t know if you knew that? That was something I learned very recently. But we also have technology specialists; we use a lot of technology at PwC so there's a lot of work in that. Things like Consulting as well who aren’t normally all accountants but have a different skillset.

We’ve also got sustainability teams. So PwC over the years, have worked a lot to kind of reduce our carbon footprint. So we've gone from having maybe 30 plus offices around the country to kind of down to 26. Part of that is obviously renewal of leases and we have a real estate team as well and that also helps kind of manage our carbon footprint. We did sign up in 2007 to kind of reduce our carbon footprint by 2017, which we did achieve. We’ve done that by introducing new buildings. One new office in London Bridge, More London, where I am today, in 2010. This building’s won awards and we've got many other buildings around the country that have won awards, which are part of BREEAM (which is Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) and that basically helps to verify and rate buildings for their sustainability. So there are key things that, if you don't want to be or don't get to be an accountant, you can obviously apply for similar roles in real estate, finance or in one of our ONE team service partners, whether that’s in our AV or catering, or print and post, we've got a multitude of services that are available to you.

Right, so PwC. So in the centre of that, the dark orange cloud, that's PwC’s purpose. So our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. So that's kind of what our purpose is as PwC. What we've also got are purposes of other large companies. And you’ll see in the bottom left-hand corner to match the industry. So again, you can pause your video here and just basically try to match up the orange clouds and the purposes for those specific industries and I'll come back.

So if we start. “We believe in what people make possible.” So this is a software provider and that's Microsoft. That’s Microsoft's purpose. If we continue clockwise: “Our purpose is as simple as it is ambitious: we connect for good”. So that's a telecoms provider and that is BT. “Serving shoppers a little better every day”. So that's a supermarket, and that's Tesco. At the bottom: “Our mission is to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful”. And that's a search engine, and that's Google. And lastly, we've got: “Accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy”. And that's an automotive company, and that's Tesla. So congratulations to those of you who matched and found the company that was their purpose statement.

So now we're going to move on to developing skills which Haley is going to take you through. So in this part of the video, we're going to find out more about what our teams do and the sort of work we might get up to on a daily basis. So to do this, we're going to have a look at a case study if you like. We're going to pretend our client is called Freshways Supermarket. Just to note here you might want to make a few notes. Freshways Supermarket is the fourth biggest in the UK. They have a 12% market share, which is currently in decline due to competition from other budget competitors. At the minute they’re looking at expansion through a newly launched clothing range. Sustainability is really important to them and their goal is to reduce the carbon footprint by 20% in five years time. Logistics: they do online delivery through regional companies. And they have 435 stores across the UK with a recent European expansion.

So here we're going to go through different decisions that we might be making in different teams at PwC. So again, you can give yourself time to pause and read through the slide. I won't read through it, but I'll give you time to pause and read through and then we'll come back and discuss it.

Okay, so what we're going to do here is basically going to consider the pros and cons of each of the options A through to D. So possible discussion points you could have reached. Before I start obviously, just to let you know there's no right or wrong answer. Because in reality, PwC might be brought in to help a client investigate and weigh up each one. That process could take a matter of days or it could take weeks. And that's the kind of thing our consulting teams might do. So the things we could have talked about are: the nature of consulting usually being project based and its focus around an organisation wanting to make a change. So the consultants tend to look at potential solutions to challenges in the context of a client business and the key is to listen to the client and their people before forming a view. The need to bring staff with you on a journey in making a change to a business and that's the people impact which sits alongside the commercial. And ways in which we might weigh up different options is understanding the risks versus the opportunities.

So for option A, so for recycling, you've got the pros of waste being recycled, liquefied, and then used to create as fuel. Getting something valuable which could be profitable. Cons could be, assume there will still be waste, and there will still be burning. So there is a carbon footprint. It’s neutral for brand reputation.

To donate. So the pros of donation, it’s a socially acceptable, beneficial activity. It’s good for the brand and reputation. The cons are it’s unpredictable as it's based on free time of charities to pick up food waste. It’s non-profitable and you can't donate anything that is over the use by date. So this will still be waste.

Option C to reduce. So the pros of that it could potentially eliminate waste for the supermarket. Improve profitability. Doesn't require external parties like a charity so it's easy to implement and control and helps people on lower incomes with their food shop. Again, the cons could be food waste may occur at the end-user as people who purchase and reduce products only have a short amount of time to consume.

Option D: additional staff. The pros could be the good quality of produce on shelves which might encourage additional sales, and obviously the waste is reduced. Cons could be the cost of employing stuff is expensive. So again, there's no wrong or right answers. But again, that's kind of the thing that you do as part of our Consulting teams.

Thanks Simon. So decision 2. Here again is a good place to pause the video and have a read through the slide and we'll come back and see what your answers are.

Right so, considering what some of the answers might be. Again, in this situation, there's no right or wrong answer. For this decision, this is something our Tax team might look at. The Tax team is generally helping clients with complex tax laws and regulations, and they might help to come up with the best options for companies.

Looking at option A: reduce prices. We could reduce prices and pay the extra tax themselves. This should help them get their sales back, but really is it in the spirit of what the tax is aiming to do? Because if you think about the sugar tax, it’s trying to get us to stop buying these products, so we can all be healthier and drink less sugar. Even though it might increase sales, it's not really in the spirit of what this is trying to do.

Change recipes again could work. Reducing the sugar would be in the spirit of this tax and getting people healthier and to think about what sort of sugar intake they’re having. But if you think about the sugary drinks that you might know of, changes to the recipes is a big deal and would take a lot of investment and is not going to help with their reputation straightaway.

They could reduce, so reduce the product size and cost to cut prices and sugar at the same time. So this is still the same product, but with less sugar and a smaller size. Now we all know how we feel about when things get smaller and we're still paying the same price. So this could have a massive impact on reputation. This is whether the company wants to do that. And it would have to really look into whether it would get the right result that they’re aiming for.

They could expand into a low sugar range, creating a marketing campaign for this as well. But again, think about when you do buy something with sugar in it, you buy it because you like it and you want it, you don't necessarily think about the healthiness of it. So even though this might be something that is becoming more important and more popular, it still couldn't work. So again, there’s good things and bad things about all these options. This is something the Tax team would consider and work through with the client.

Decision 3, Simon, would you like to take this one? Yeah. Go for it.

So hello again, guys. So before I ask you to pause, what I will say on this section is, this time there are some wrong answers. So because of the sensitive nature of what you're dealing with, this kind of scrutiny, weighing up evidence and use of professional judgment is exactly the sort of thing our Audit teams are involved with. So again, at this point, I want you to pause, obviously look over this slide and look at some of the options - A to D - then we'll come back and review those.

Okay, welcome back. So I hope you enjoyed looking over that slide. So what I'm going to look at is basically what is an audit? So it’s providing an independent check on the health of an organisation, checking that things are as everyone believes them to be in order to give peace of mind to different stakeholders, so investors, staff, and customers etc. So this is a core part of our purpose of building trust in society and Audit is arguably what we're best known for. Because it's such an important role, quality and impartiality are absolutely essential. Being an auditor provides a fantastic reputation for any career in business because you'll be seeing lots of different organisations from the inside and understanding in great detail how they work or don't work. You qualify as a chartered accountant too, which is truly an international business qualification.

So looking at option A, so breakdown. This would be a sensible first step. And a big part of our audit work has to do with examining different types of evidence to work out what is a true and fair representation of the situation. A bit like being a detective, so for any of you budding detectives, Audit might be for you.

B: doing nothing. So our auditors are trained to use professional skepticism, which means always keeping a mindset of looking out for anything unusual. It should alert you to a potential issue that this transaction does not follow the usual pattern and that the sign off procedure as a result is different. Regarding whether or not it's around the right amount, this is where materiality comes in, whether the variance to the expected amount is material or not. In this case, it would be. But you'd learn more about this in our training and you will always be working as part of a team.

Option C: to report. You definitely want to, at the very least, talk to your line manager or your team. Potentially this could be a suspicious transaction, so it needs to be handled sensitively and follow a correct process. That's your responsibility as the person who spotted it. But your team and manager are there to support you.

Finally, D: the client. You definitely wouldn't do this. If there is something suspicious going on, your conversation could alert the people involved, which would then be regarded as tipping off, something which would carry some heavy consequences for you personally. So I hope that helped and we'll go into the next slide.

Decision 4. Here, I’ll give you a clue: there are no wrong answers. So here’s a good point to pause the video and we'll come back in a couple of minutes.

So let's consider the potential answers. This is something our Deals department might look at. There are so many different departments within Deals, but if we’re thinking generally, they might come in and look at the different options and weigh up each one. The big question here is weighing up risk and reward. So the amount of risk the company is going to put in could mean they're going to get more reward out of it.

So if we look at the first one: investment. So, use the same model as they did for the clothing range for roll out, but look to seek external investment to fund the trial. So this would be good because they're not going to have to invest their own money. So the risk is going to be low, but then the reward might be quite low as well because that investor is going to want some of your profits.

Option B: existing brand. So to introduce homeware into Freshways with an existing external brand as a collaborative venture. Again, the risk with this would be quite low. We know that the external brand has already got customers. But again, this brand coming in is going to want some of the profits too.

C: Self start. So use their retained profits and introduce the new line themselves. Here, you're taking all the risks and rewards. So it could be quite high risk. But if it pays off, it may be the best option.

And then D is a pilot. So to choose a store to act as a pilot or concept store to see if it works. And then if it does, roll it out into the rest of the stores. So kind of like a self start but trying to reduce that risk and investment that they’re going to have to put in. So all options have their benefits. It just depends how you explain them.

Moving onto the next section, which is thinking about your options. Just before we move into this, a lot of the options that we have at PwC, others companies have. So if you do think that PwC isn't for you, it's still important to have a look at these options and consider whether there’s something you'd be interested in taking further.

So if we look at our opportunities. So one of the opportunities in Year 12 is an Insight Week. At the minute, this is work experience that is done virtually. Then if we move a bit further down, we have school leaver programmes. This is after you’ve left school, you can join as an apprentice and come to PwC. This may involve gaining a qualification, taking some exams, but obviously without the added worry of going to university and taking on debt and things like that. We also do have a university option, where PwC sponsors certain courses. We have these in Accountancy and Technology. And throughout these, you'll be gaining not only qualifications, but work experience at the same time. A lot of them, they come into PwC at certain points in the year to do a bit of experience with different departments as well. And then there's the usual routes for students at university, whether that's a placement or internship, or then potentially joining as a graduate after your degree. All in all, there's a lot of opportunities in a lot of ways to come and see what we're about and see what sort of work we do. If you do want to find out any more information, please have a look at our Careers website because that has a lot more information and contact details to get in touch with us.

So just looking at our school leaver programmes. We have school leaver programmes across the different lines of service, so in Audit, Deals, Tax and Consulting. These are two to four years, you will have a full time salary so you are getting paid whilst getting a qualification. Some people, after school, they just want to get into work. So if that’s you, this might be something you want to have a look into it. And a big plus of no student debt.

So that's the end of our presentation. At this point we'd say, have you got any questions? But as Simon said earlier, if you do have any questions, please send them across to the e-mail address that was at the beginning of the presentation and we will get back to you. Excellent, thank you guys.
 

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Hollie Crompton

Social Mobility Lead, PwC United Kingdom

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