Global opportunities on local platforms

by Isabella Lee

Dave McCann, HR partner
Photo: Courtesy of PwC

Experienced accounting and audit professionals in high demand

The Hong Kong and China accountancy and professional services currently stand in an enviable position and the outlook is positive. This is reflected in employment opportunities, particularly for skilled and experienced candidates.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a case in point. The "big four" firm is recruiting across the entire spectrum of its service areas with a view to expanding business and maximising professional scope. According to Dave McCann, the firm's HR partner, PwC is focusing on maintaining superlative working conditions to attract and retain the best.

Regarding recruitment, PwC taps various sources to find the right people. This may include attracting people from overseas, whether from the global PwC network or externally. The firm similarly recruits staff from mainland China and also hires people who do not possess a traditional audit background. Having a team comprising individuals with different backgrounds, in terms of work experience or cultural diversity, complements local teams as well as creates an exciting and dynamic working environment.

Key competencies

To be in the running for a position with PwC, candidates should have experience and understand accounting principles, standards and audit methodologies. Those who have yet to complete their professional accounting designation, ideally the HKICPA for the Hong Kong office, are also considered. Additionally, other international accounting qualifications are well regarded, particularly if people join from overseas.

"We look for people with excellent leadership, language and interpersonal skills. The criteria are based on a number of vital competencies including innovation, business vision and motivation," Mr McCann points out.

According to Mr McCann, 2008 will be another big recruitment year for experienced personnel at PwC as the firm's expansion needs and client base grow. There will be opportunities across the key areas such as assurance, tax, advisory, as well as SPA (systems and process assurance), for people at a range of levels. Ample opportunities are also expected in some of the newer client service areas. For instance, in performance improvement, PwC is seeking people from a wide variety of backgrounds such as human resources, consulting, financial risk management, operations and IT effectiveness.

Upon joining PwC, new recruits go through a comprehensive orientation programme which covers background information about the firm, processes and procedures and technical skills in the relevant areas. Buddies are assigned to assist integration into the firm, and career coaches allocated to help drive recruits' careers forward.

"Joining a new organisation can be challenging and sometimes a bit daunting. Our approach to orientating new staff aims to ensure that they have a positive and exciting experience from day one," Mr McCann explains.

Recruits can expect a multitude of learning outcomes from PwC, all of which link back to its core values of teamwork, leadership and excellence. The firm is committed to ensuring people achieve their full potential. This is demonstrated through unique staff training and development, via a comprehensive career development and coaching framework known as "performance coaching and development", and through exposure to exciting clients and overseas secondment opportunities.

"Everyone at PwC participates in performance coaching and development which is how we assess, coach and develop our staff. Junior staff set clear development goals on an annual basis and are assigned a career coach responsible for helping them achieve these goals. Regular and timely feedback is also provided on work competencies so staff can continuously improve," Mr McCann notes.

At each stage of a person's career there are clear training and development requirements, whether they be technical or soft skills, and this training helps them prepare for the next stage in their career.

"A cornerstone of our corporate culture for both new joiners and existing staff is our 'We Care' programme," Mr McCann says. "Under the programme, we define our relationship with staff, promoting a caring culture within the firm and ensuring an open communication platform between management and staff."

Impressive portfolio

As the world's largest professional services firm with offices in 150 countries, PwC offers its staff members, regardless of their chosen industry focus, extraordinary opportunities to work in mainland China and overseas.

On the macro scale, PwC provides services to 83 per cent of the Fortune Global 500 companies. Such a range of clients provides an ideal client portfolio for the firm and its talent. Depending on the group area that employees join, they can expect to work with a range of established companies both multinational and local. This is important as it ensures exposure to a wide variety of challenges and issues, which broaden employees' skill sets.

"We have one of the largest global mobility programmes in the profession. This facilitates greater worldwide exposure for our high performers early in their career. Each year we send hundreds of people on overseas assignments. On top of this, we also have a wide range of international clients or clients who have operations overseas. Therefore, our people regularly have the opportunity to spend time in other countries on client projects," Mr McCann adds.


Taken from Career Times 18 January 2008
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