11 Dec 2014
PwC Singapore was recently awarded the accolade of “Graduate Employer of the Year” in Singapore's 100 Leading Graduate Employers Awards 2014 (for the fourth consecutive year).
ISCA chats with Sam Kok Weng (Mr), Human Capital Leader, PwC Singapore to find out more.
1. What has helped PwC maintain the accolade of “Graduate Employer of the Year” for the fourth consecutive year?
Accounting and professional services industry as a whole remains relevant with graduates as they see that they can develop professional and business skills in this industry.
We are pleased to have won this for the fourth consecutive year. As this award is awarded based on votes by graduates and undergraduates, we feel they may have voted for us due to two main reasons. First, graduates believe in the development programmes we offer - whether it is the formal training programs, on the job training or the coaching culture we embrace. Second, staff and potential staff like the culture and the PwC work environment where work and fun are equally emphasised and a strong focus on nurturing relationships, maintaining quality and empowering the staff.
2. What helped PwC understand the expectations of the undergraduates and graduates?
We believe strongly in hearing from our target audience. Engagement sessions; conversations during outreach programmes with students, staff and career offices; collaboration with research units to understand millennials (Gen Y) etc. help us to stay current with the needs of the undergraduates and graduates. We also help those joining us to understand our proposition and through this create a career deal between us and the graduates/undergraduates.
Onboarding surveys, take stock sessions at end of internships etc., help us to understand how we have fared and to identify areas we can do better. For many of our graduate marketing and outreach events, we also involve our junior staff to form project committees and empower them to design and execute their own ideas to communicate to the market why PwC is an employer of choice. Ultimately they know the students' expectations the best, so we leverage on their knowledge and at the same time, they develop a sense of pride because they've helped to attract talent to the firm.
3. How did PwC decide on the improvements to your graduate programme?
Singapore's education landscape is dynamic and ever-changing, and graduates' attitudes towards work is also evolving. Our business focus also changes over time, together with new service offerings and regulatory changes. Having choices is an important expectation of the graduates. Such choices range from alternative work experience, fulfilling corporate social responsibility aspirations, ability to relate the work to self-purpose, stints/jobs overseas, ability to give ideas and drive change in the organisation etc.
We constantly review business needs and assess how new graduates fit into the overall picture, defining new programs as the need arises (e.g. non-accounting graduates in Audit, support program for SQP etc). As can be imagined, various stakeholders are involved, so when the time comes to evaluate success and whether to improve on certain aspects, we solicit feedback from the graduates, career coaches, partners and our HR and L&D teams. Being part of a global network, we also leverage on ideas from our overseas firms and benchmark ourselves against other leading companies to ensure we adopt global best practices.
4. What is the graduate outreach programme like in PwC?
We use a combination of both traditional and non-traditional channels which varies from career fairs, career talks, guest lecturing, open houses, sponsorship of student events/competitions to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. While all the talk has been about social media, we can't ignore the importance of having meaningful face to face interactions between our people and students.
And really, most undergraduates form their opinion about a company through what their seniors tell them. So the underlying driver is how your existing staff feel about your company. And from what we see, we're fortunate that without planning, our staff do feel pride in the firm and consciously and unconsciously sell the firm to their juniors. That's worth more than any fanciful campaigns.
5. What can a firm do in order to be a better employer?
These days, the expectations of what an employer should provide an employee has increased significantly, so it's about getting an understanding of what these expectations are, and embedding a culture that fosters creativity and innovation so that the employer is able to readily adapt to these changing needs. There has also been a shift from just wanting competitive financial benefits - individuals are focusing more on professional and personal development which means employers have to ensure they provide ample opportunities for their people to achieve this. Finally, I think employers have to move away from having a hierarchical culture to one that empowers all levels of employees to create and execute their own ideas. This will instill a sense of pride and ownership in the employee, resulting in an engaged workforce which understands and is aligned with organisational purpose and ambition.
For the original press release, please click here.
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