Name: Mansoor Ahmad
Degree and university: Accounting and Finance (BA Hons), University of Kent at Canterbury
Work Title: Associate working in the Assurance line of service at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
What do you actualy do? My main job is to provide financial audit services to clients within the technology, telecoms, entertainment, and energy sectors, alongside studying towards the ICAEW’s ACA qualification.
Were you always interested in this as a career? My ambition whilst at university was to embark on a career in finance where I would be able to train towards a professional qualification, as this would provide me with a good foundation for enhancing my career. If I feel I want to further enhance my promotional prospects, then there’s no harm in taking a year or two off of work and going back to university.
How did you find out about this job/career? Throughout my time at University I attended various career presentations both on and off campus, which enabled me to get an insight into what a career in assurance involved, and more importantly provided me with an opportunity to get a feel for what the people were like at the various firms.
Have you ever experienced any prejudice against you in your work life? I have personally never experienced any gender or racial prejudice in this sector. I feel that individuals should be judged on merit and this I believe is echoed throughout the sector. As a physically disabled person I am aware that there are challenges faced by disabled people in the workplace as well as by their potential employers. However, many firms have come a long way in assessing and catering for the needs of people with a wide range of disabilities. From my experience at PwC so far, there have been challenges which both the firm and I have overcome. Even in the workplace my colleagues are more aware, for example when arranging external social events they always take the initiative to ensure the venues have suitable wheelchair access. The world is moving forwards in leaps and bounds, prejudice in all respects will merely slow this progress down.
What do you like most about your job and are there any downsides?
People – I think people are the most important aspect of any job, and at PwC the diversity of people in terms of culture and background makes getting the train into work in the mornings worthwhile! Also training and Development – The abundance of training and development programmes on top of the ACA course is very important for me, as it ensures that the employees are given the opportunity to develop key transferrable skills and are also provided with the necessary technical expertise in line with career progression.
The work can sometimes be quite demanding in terms of hours and pressure, especially during year end audit work. However, I enjoy working under pressure as it provides me with a good challenge, and I usually tend to thrive in such an environment.
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you do? Two of the main skills/strengths I have developed and feel would be essential for making a success of what you do are:
Empathy – The work involves working in teams and is also client facing, therefore you need to have a strong sense of empathy, as team members and client staff will all be very different, and so it is important you recognise how to handle each individual appropriately.
Professional scepticism – Within this role you should have an inquisitive nature. When dealing with audit clients you need to approach them with an enquiring mind while at the same time being tactful, this quickly gets picked up with experience.
What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to come into this sector? PwC and other firms in the sector have many graduate career fairs on campuses throughout the UK as well as off campus events either at their offices or other locations. So I recommend finding out more about this sector by visiting these events, which provide a great source of information and enables you to network with staff from the firms and get a perspective of their experiences, and ask questions which you may not be able to find answers to on websites. Also, students and graduates wanting to study for a professional qualification should be prepared to work hard as any professional qualification that you do will be challenging but definitely fruitful in the long run.