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PwC eyes Gen Y trainees
Andrea Zavadszky
update on Friday, September 16, 2011
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Generation Y members may want to give PwC's career prospects for recent graduates a closer look. The professional services firm has recognised that Gen Yers - those born in the late '80s and the early '90s - have different expectations than their elders, so it is working on new ways to engage and retain them.

"An important consideration for the firm is managing and adapting to the impact of Generation Y on the workforce," says Nora Wu, human capital leader of PwC Asia Pacific. "The fact is, we are a Generation Y firm. Frankly, Gen Yers' expectations are different. They expect to be engaged more, and we recognise this as a key retention strategy - to understand their needs and, ultimately, adapt our culture internally to meet their expectations."

While learning and development is a great investment and a strategic priority for PwC, the structured and well-planned training curriculum does more than take a new hire through the steep professional learning curve. "The aim is very much to develop our people on both the personal development and professional fronts. We aim to ensure our people develop their full potential," Wu says.

Newly hired young graduates are introduced to the firm's culture and global network through a four-week orientation. In their first year alone, they will also undergo about 120 hours of training, in the classroom and online, and in so-called sharing sessions on topics ranging from IT know-how and technical training to management and communication skills. There's even a training course in business writing.

The new hires are paired with career coaches and buddies through different stages of their employment. Training for both accounting and non-accounting graduates is offered.

Coaching is an important part of a person's development and PwC China and Hong Kong provide a structured approach under the heading, "Performance Coaching and Development". It calls upon staff to think differently about their and others' development and careers, and includes quality coaching and feedback.

When it comes to hiring, those with dedication and commitment stand out.

"We look for people who have passion for the industry and for serving people with excellent customer service. After all, PwC is a people business. It's about investing in relationships, sharing and collaborating and, ultimately, adding value to peers and clients," says Wu.

Teamwork and agility are necessary to get the job done in an industry where priorities can change quickly, she adds.

Cathy Chan, assurance associate at PwC Hong Kong, emphasises that communication skills, are extremely important in the field.

"For those starting out in auditing, I suggest that they further develop their soft skills as the job requires building up good relationships with clients, managers, seniors, and other team members," she says. "Also, knowing as much as possible about the accounting profession is a must. Reading newspaper articles that are related to the industry will also definitely help." According to Chan, the most difficult part has been to understand individual clients' business and the way they do things within the short time available, although that is necessary to perform the audit well.

Wu says that curiosity about other people and cultures is a big plus, as well as mobility.

"Since PwC is a global network, there are many opportunities for people to experience working in new cultures, to build relationships with colleagues and clients overseas as well as to enjoy new life challenges," she says, adding that fluency in Putonghua is an asset but not a requirement.

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