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Accounting

Conscientious objectivity

by Jeanne Creighton

Peter Ng, partner
PricewaterhouseCoopers
Photo: Keith Cheung

Combining leadership with teamwork promotes excellence in the workplace

Competition between multinationals in any industry is always stiff, so often the intangibles, rather than the profit margin, can set an organisation apart. When jobseekers consider joining a company, they should consider the organisation's corporate values, which influence all aspects of a working life, and largely dictate the level of job satistation.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) takes corporate values seriously. Peter Ng, a partner of the big-four firm explains, "Our corporate values are 'excellence', 'leadership' and 'teamwork'. These then form the basis of the PwC culture, where we create values for clients with passion."

Besides contributing to the company's culture, the corporate values form part of the "PwC Experience". "We invest heavily in building relationships with clients and colleagues. We share and collaborate, putting ourselves in each other's shoes. This gives us the ability to enhance value to both colleagues and our clients," says Mr Ng.

Buddy up

This philosophy is put into practice from day one of a new staff member's PwC journey. New joiners, whether fresh graduates or people with industry experience, are paired with a buddy once completing their training. This buddy system usually creates friendships for life, as the pair work closely together. Mr Ng further explains, "A buddy is usually a senior associate, someone who has been with the company for two to three years. Even after leaving the company, the relationship often lasts as usually they become very good friends. The buddy helps with a variety of things, from giving the new staff a tour of the office to helping out with technical skills."

Since the firm is account driven, associates (new joiners) have multiple supervisors. This special arrangement gives them opportunities to work on several assignments simultaneously. However, they must complete a month-long initial training period before receiving any assignments. This is especially important for new staff hired from outside the accounting and auditing industry. It is also a feature of the PwC culture that contributes to its success. "By hiring a variety of people from different backgrounds, staff have a broader focus so we can look at things from many angles. We support this diverse group of hires by providing exam training even before they start work with us. We have a friendly and open culture which helps to create a dynamic and creative workplace."

Integral integrity

Part of the training includes learning about the organisation's culture, which includes adopting the values of courage and integrity, which in turn help to maintain the company's unique synergy. Integrity is actually part of PwC's code of conduct, instilled in employees on a continuous basis. "Staff need to understand that it is not enough to just follow the rules but to also understand the intentions behind them. This is especially true because at this level it affects not just an individual but the firm, and from a macro perspective, the industry as well. We can't compromise on something just to gain a client," Mr Ng reveals.

This specific culture transcends the company globally and contributes to the branding of PwC as a powerhouse in the industry. However, the training provided to staff is on a country-by-country basis, as different places have different needs. In Hong Kong, where PwC employs about 3,000 staff, training opportunities are perpetually available, which in turn ensure personnel are qualified beyond the associate level. "People who have been with us for a few years enjoy international secondment opportunities under our global mobility plan. These can last from three months to two years. The focus of secondments is to allow staff to learn an alternative way of doing things, as well as experiencing a new culture. It's a two-way street as people from other PwC offices come to Hong Kong for their secondment. We have more than 300 people at this moment involved in the programme. Staff find this secondment experience very enriching."

Also contributing to the employee satisfaction quotient are PwC's efforts to ensure staff benefit from a quality work-life balance. From annual firm-wide events with mainland offices to sports activities with clients, the company involves staff in fun activities outside the office. This is linked to the firm's "We Care" programme. PwC is also proud to undertake a corporate social responsibility programme, which aims to offer an opportunity for staff to contribute to the community while also benefiting worthwhile projects that require much needed resources.

PwC knows how to take care of staff, which translates into business success by having a qualified and contented team providing superior services to clients.


 

Taken from Career Times 07 March 2008

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