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I have been working at PwC full-time (More than 5 years)RecommendsPositive OutlookApproves of CEORecommendsPositive OutlookApproves of CEO
There is a lot about the firm that is great. It is a great culture that values collaboration (below the partner level), that truly values diversity of its employees, and that is very collegial. The Advisory business has grown significantly over the past 5 years since reconstituting a consulting arm with the acquisition of BearingPoint, followed by other large acquisitions of PRTM, Diamond and most recently Booz & Company (Strategy& - which is, actually, a dumb name for a company that garners eye rolls and open chuckling among the staff). The firm has also made smaller tuck in acquisitions as well to fill in small, but important strategic capabilities such as Ants Eye View (for social marketing, social media strategy, and social listening), and BGT (for digital marketing agency work).
It is a place where you can build a great career if you can deliver great work, excel at networking across the firm, and can build partner support. Exceptional employees are the "average" here, so if you aren't knocking it out of the park all the time then you can expect to only be rated in the middle of the pack, and receive nominal raises and performance bonuses.
It has a strong brand in the market. The firm's latest brand health index rated it at the top of the other "big 4" firms (Deloitte, KPMG, and EY) as well as other non-audit/tax firms like Accenture. The Strategy& acquisition added significant strategy consulting capability to position PwC to compete with the likes of BCG, Bain & McKenzie (who have little to no post strategy execution capabilities...meaning they are good at telling you what to do, but aren't really able to stick around to help you do it).
Bob Moritz (Senior Partner) and Miles Everson (Advisory Leader) are great leaders who do a good job at inspiring staff to provide great, differentiating client service. They are personable, approachable, and genuine (if they are not, then they deserve an Oscar for their performances - oh, wait, we audit the Oscars...maybe a Tony then). They have a strong vision for how we will shift the firm to a global operating model over the next few years (today, we are a collection of member firms with each territory representing its own firm structure) which will enable us to better serve our clients, most of which operate globally today.
All in all, it is a place that I am proud to work at.
As noted by many, and as inferred by by comment around individual performance above, if you want to get ahead here you WILL work your rears off. Late nights and weekends, with minimal complaining, are the norm for those who are successful. The firm has tried to add in concepts of "flexibility" into our work force - but that is generally ignored in practice by those people actually delivering client work (great thought, poor execution).
I know that many complain about what they see as the professional equivalent of "sweat shop rates" when it comes to compensation - but I honestly think that is over blown. Sure everyone would love to make more money, but you can make 6 figures as a Senior Associate and almost $300K as a Director PLUS bonus...so, to me, the pay issue falls on deaf ears. The one area that I think we could really improve on is in the area of our 401K matching percentage which is currently $0.25 on the dollar up to 6% of your contribution. Many of our industry clients match dollar for dollar, so quarter for dollar is a bit of a slap in the face.
The technology that we use as practioners, for the most part, is terrible with the exception of some of our new web enabled tools for pricing engagements and managing engagement economics. For the last few years there have been many hints and encouragements that we would be replacing the much hated Lotus Notes (that's right boys and girls, we are still using the best of 1990s technology for email and calendaring). There was a great deal of excitement and buzz in the firm - until we were told that we would not be moving to the standard...Microsoft Outlook. Instead - we are "Going Google". So, not only are we replacing one terrible system with another, we are not actually getting rid of Lotus Notes at all because 1) the Federal practice can't use gMail (the Feds won't certify the security of gMail's cloud) 2) certain accounts (like Microsoft) won't allow the use of Google products (Microsoft was so angry that they lost the replacement of Lotus Notes that we almost completely lost the account), and 3) the rest of the global firm won't be switching. So we will be having to manage two separate email accounts and will be forced to use the terrible Google Docs over what everyone else in the world uses and likes - Microsoft Office. Why did we select Google, one might ask. The answer varies based on who you ask. Some say it is because Google's cloud based tools will allow us to work in ways that we can't today for collaborating on the creation of documents and through Google's "Hang Outs"...this is ridiculous because Google's user experience is horrible (else, Microsoft would be losing market share to them in spades), and Microsoft already has the standard for collaboration through Link and Jive. Some say it is because Google's cloud based services provide a lower total ownership cost - which is also ridiculous because Microsoft has Office 365 available through the cloud with Azure. Some say it is because our technology isn't cool which is impacting our ability to attract talent on campus - which is the most ridiculous reason of all because who really joins a company because they can have a gMail account? Also, I'm honestly not sure how we will be expected to use these fabulous tools in an offline capacity when we don't have internet connectivity (such as on a plane that is not equipped with WiFi).
The firm is also replacing its current performance management system (and process for handing out annual performance ratings and subsequent merit increases and performance bonuses) with a new system called the PwC Professional. Basically, they are replacing a tried and true system of documenting written performance feedback (which is good for not only developing people but also for serving as a record of what people don't do well in the event an adverse action needs to be taken against an employee) with a mobile app that captures a rating against five dimensions and which replaces written feedback with oral feedback that has no memory and no record. The "coach" who used to be responsible for representing their "coachees" at the Annual Review Committee time now has almost no role in the performance outcome of their staff displaced by the "relationship partner" who has responsibility now to personally know each and every staff member that they represent so that they can represent them to the other partner only "performance roundtable" discussions. Partners today have very little time for junior staff, let alone demonstrated interest in their individual careers. So now, a process that was cumbersome but was overly fair (you could only talk about things during ARC time that were documented - if it wasn't documented it was if it never happened and you had at least one person who knew you and advocated for you in the room when your performance was being discussed in the form of your Coach) and very transparent is being replaced with the equivalent of a papal conclave supported by a popularity contest. Additionally, this mobile app (Performance Snapshots), only requires commentary if a staff member is not meeting expectations or is partially meeting expectations...so if you are meeting expectations you can't even comment on performance unless you are highlighting a performance differentiator that they only expect less than 50% of staff to have. Lazy reviewers are incentivized through the design of the app to give everyone a meets expectations on all five dimensions and move on. Our attrition rate has been very low for a professional services firm - it will be interesting to see what happens to attrition after the next round of annual reviews using the new PwC Professional.
Advice to Management
There are so many good things about this firm, but this obsession with being "different" isn't always good. It is good to differentiate on the things that matter, but you hobble us with terrible technology, put performance measurement systems that are tied to our compensation in place that are nothing more than a popularity contest, and then expect us to work our hinds off for you with big huge smiles on our face. You have not once asked the firm what they think of these new changes in any way that would allow honest, but confidential feedback - because in truth, you don't really want to know. Stop trying to "sell" us on these new tools. You have never had to do that before. When the value is obvious, you will have an entire firm that will support and adopt the changes. Right now it feels like a used car salesman who has to over sell on the paint color to make up for the terrible interior and under powered engine. If you have to do this much selling to get us to use something - is it really THAT good to begin with?
Differentiate on the things that matter - the additions to our capabilities though the amazing acquisitions we have made, the deployment of the value exchange, our positioning with the analyst community, thought leadership that allows us to carry a strong point of view into the market place, the significant investment you make in the training and skill development of staff, the relationships that we build with our clients every day through the amazing work we do. You have a ton of people who are proud to work here and who trust and value you as leaders, but these decisions you are making now make us question whether that trust is well placed.