7Q’s With: PwC Graduate Deals & Assurance Associate – Havish

Havish is an associate on PwC’s graduate scheme. He studied Geography with Economics at the London School of Economics.  

1. Why did you choose PwC over the other 3 of the big four?

I chose PwC for a few reasons – primarily people. I met people from the firm at many different events and each time I was left with an extremely positive impression. The people at the firm aligned with my personality and were very genuine. Furthermore, in the events I attended, the representatives avoided a lot of the recruitment buzzwords and were honest about the culture and the work they do which was rare in my experience! It allowed me to make the best decision possible, and represented the overall ethos of PwC. Furthermore, they were the only firm offering a “split scheme”. The scheme I am on allows me to work both within Audit and Deals, whilst also sitting exams towards the ACA qualification. For me, this was an unbeatable and winning combination.  

2. What do you find most interesting about working in deals & assurance?

In Assurance, I find understanding how a business really works the most interesting. A lot of jobs offer this exposure, but having spent time in Assurance I believe it’s unique in its learning opportunities. Whilst the work may not always be glamorous (as with many jobs!), understanding how companies generate revenue and evaluating the costs that go into this (as an example of one small area within an Audit) provides an unrivalled insight into business/finance. 

Within Deals (I work specifically in TMT Valuations) I find the context of the Valuation the most interesting part. We engage with clients for a wide range of purposes, from start-up valuations for investment opportunities all the way through to M&A and tax valuations. Projects are usually short in duration and therefore understanding the business and the context of the valuation are key in meeting the goals of the project. Valuations is a very subjective area and therefore produces really interesting (and sometimes heated!) discussions around the best approach. 

3. What’s been the highlight of your time at PwC?

There have been quite a few – when you join the firm it’s almost like university again as you’re in college (for the ACA) and within a year group/intake. Some of my colleagues have become my closest friends, providing a strong level of support given the long hours that can be worked and the numerous exams sat. I don’t think I can pick a single highlight – every time our intake gets together socially there are always highlights… 

4. What’s been the toughest aspect of your graduate scheme?

Studying for the ACA alongside working is tough. Although the firm does give study leave, most of the work is completed in your own time and therefore being disciplined and remaining motivated are key challenges – especially given there are 15 exams! Although do-able (I say now, I still have 3 exams to go!) this part of the job is easily the toughest.  

 5. Give us your number 1 piece of advice for interviews?

Be yourself. There’s so much information on the internet about ideal answers/what words to use etc. I’d say take it all with a pinch of salt. Use the interview as a two way conversation rather than a Q&A. The person interviewing you will have their own experiences and stories to tell, so try and explore them! Interviews are a two-way thing – it may feel like you’re being constantly assessed however take the opportunity to ask questions and decipher the culture/vibe of the firm. Assess the firm and interviewer as they assess you!

6. Is working in Deals as high octane as it sounds?

It can be! It varies from project to project. I’ve helped value an African telecoms company in a few days for a potential buyer, which was intense. On the other hand, I’ve been involved in projects which spanned a few months and are therefore less intense. Normally, you’re working on a number of projects simultaneously and are therefore always busy.  

Wild Card Questions – Unorthodox questions that candidates have been asked in real interviews

7. You can invite 3 people from any point in history to a dinner party. Who do you invite and why?

  1. Mahatma Gandhi. I would like to see his thoughts on how his principles of non-violence would apply in the modern world.
  2. Adolf Hitler. I would like to see how he matches up against Gandhi. I think it would be an interesting dynamic
  3. Jesus. If Jesus came it would be the second coming.

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