Bull Bear Report Feb 14 2011

PwC's Paula Loop on Hiring 45,000 and the Firm's Big Change

By kyle stock

At the Big 4 accounting firms, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC, hiring seems to happen on two scales: a lot and even more.

PwC, until recently known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, is currently in the latter category. The tax, advisory and audit shop, which currently has about 161,000 employees, plans on hiring 45,000 people this year. And it's hoping that a new branding campaign and push into social media will help it land talent, particularly from U.S. college campuses.

FINS sat down with global and U.S. talent leader Paula Loop, who is in charge of finding and managing talent in the U.S. for the firm, to discuss PwC's new partnership with LinkedIn, the company's push into consulting and why it has overhauled its culture of late.

Kyle Stock: Give us a 30,000 foot view of PwC's hiring at the moment?

Paula Loop: We have been very busy. The great news is that we're in a growth mode, both in the US and globally. We're expecting to hire around 45,000 in the next year -- that's going to include all of our interns, campus hires, as well as experienced hires. Most of the growth is going to be in the U.S., U.K., China, Central and Eastern Europe and India.

KS: It seems like the firm is always hiring, how does that 45,000 compare with 2008 and 2009?

PL: It's certainly higher than it has been in recent years. For the US, we're hoping to hire around 10,000 this year. Those numbers are about 60% higher than they were for 2009 or 2010. About 6,000 of those are campus hires and 4,000 are on the experienced side.

KS: Will all of this work out to a net gain in headcount?

PL: They'll net out to growth. Our business model is such that we do have a fair amount of turnover. But we're in a growth mode, so we're looking for accretion. There are a lot of growth areas -- probably most notably in financial services, healthcare and our Washington D.C. federal practice.

KS: What is average turnover at PwC?

PL: Our business model is such that some turnover is built into it. If someone leaves PwC, they will more than likely end up as clients someplace, so we like to think of it as a long-term relationship.

KS: How about in the consulting practice?

PL: We're definitely seeing more growth in the consulting and advisory practice. But frankly, there's growth all across.

KS: You announced the big LinkedIn partnership in the fall, what else is happening with campus recruiting?

Editor's note: PwC sponsored a new tool on LinkedIn this fall called Career Explorer. College students at 60 campuses chosen by PwC are prompted to enter some basic information about themselves and their career aspirations when logging onto the site. They are then shown a list of jobs relevant to their answers. PwC branding is on some of the new tool's pages.

PL: We had a great fall and a lot of it had to do with LinkedIn, but coincidentally the same day of the LinkedIn launch was our new brand launch, PricewaterhouseCoopers changing to just PwC. It's a big deal within the firm and outside the firm.

We're doing Personal Brand Week 2.0 right now. There's videos, there's checklists, there's articles, there's worksheets. There's a contest for the best elevator pitch.

KS: So you're really engaging these kids huh?

PL: Yeah, that's really one of our areas of focus. We've always wanted to focus on helping students and experienced professionals get ahead, but we obviously have a vested interest.

KS: When PwC announced the LinkedIn deal, some articles said PwC has been slow to embrace social networking -- is that accurate?

PL: Well, we were waiting for the right place at the right time. LinkedIn was a really good match for us.

KS: 4,000 experienced hires this year -- is that an increase in pace?

PL: That is definitely higher than in the past. It's about twice as high as it's been in recent years. And it's primarily in the areas that I mentioned before -- financial services and healthcare.

KS: Is that driven by the recent legislation -- the Dodd-Frank law and healthcare reform?

PL: Some of it is that. Some of it is just financial services companies are starting to spend money now and they have needs that we can meet.

KS: Is the market for experienced hires tight?

PL: Talent gets to be tougher and tougher right? I think when things really started to free up six or nine months ago, it was easy in the beginning. But, in general to find the right talent it's going to continue to get tougher and tougher and finding that perfect candidate is getting tougher and tougher.

KS: Have you changed recruiting strategies as a result?

PL: We've got more recruiters on staff. There's more use of agencies and all that. We were still hiring people during the recession, but the numbers are just much, much higher now.

We also have a lot of international opportunities right now. I think some of the people we're looking at today are really interested in that. We probably have 2,000 people around the world who are deployed on short-term or long-term assignments.

We've also relaunched one of our top talent development programs called Genesis Park. We send some of our most-promising employees to 10-week programs in either Warsaw, Singapore or Boston.

KS: Was that put on hiatus during the recession?

PL: We repositioned it during that time and now we relaunched it this year. It wasn't in as many outside countries. The concept now is that every year it will change locations. We'll have at least 150 people in that program for this year, but we plan to increase that going forward.

KS: I always try to ask about poaching. Is PwC hiring from competitors much these days?

PL: Because I think we are hiring more people, there's more activity there. That's always been a place we like to stay competitive.

KS: Is PwC doing anything new to increase retention?

PL: We've had some great stuff on the retention front. We had an annual shutdown between Christmas and New Year's where we closed our firm. That's a terrific thing for us. I can tell you, you really get a chance to disconnect. Not only are you on vacation, but no one else is working. It gets people rejuvenated.

And we're always doing stuff. Our new brand was a really great and exciting thing. We all have new bags for our computers that have our new colors for the new brand.

KS: It seems like PwC is really undertaking a major cultural shift. What's the driving force behind that?

PL: People are really our biggest asset, so we're always trying to be innovative and thinking outside of the box on keeping our people happy and engaged. And we have a very young population. The average age in the U.S. is probably somewhere around 27, so, you know, you've got to stay on your toes.

This is a generation that likes change and doing things differently and we're trying to acknowledge that.

KS: So how does the culture differ from a company like Deloitte?

PL: It's hard for me to say on that, because I haven't been a part of their culture, but I would say our new brand launch this fall really defines our culture. The colors are really vibrant and warm. We took that really long name and shortened it up. Our new logo can be really animated. I think that's really what we're trying to bring out in our culture.

Write to Kyle Stock

Play the new finance career game from FINS!

Financial Dream Jobs - Sign Or Decline
You just got an offer for your dream job,
instead of stairs and elevators, your office has fire poles and ladders.

  • Copyright ©2014 Dice Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.
Log in 
FINS Login
*Indicates required field
User Name*
     Forgot Your Password?
Or log in using your Facebook account:
Connect with Facebook