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A mistake for MBAs looking for M&A or Strategy projects

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Advisory Senior Associate  in  Chicago, IL (US)
Former Employee - Advisory Senior Associate in Chicago, IL (US)

I worked at PwC full-time for more than a year

Pros

Good brand name - I got calls from recruiters within a week of joining the firm
Numerous offices
Ability to see strategy projects carried through to implementation
Decent health plan

Cons

Lack of support for MBA new hires and Experienced Hires. PwC offers minimal training once you're more than a year past college. New Managers hired from industry aren't trained to manage clients, projects, staff, in the context of Management Consulting.

Low compensation compared to other Consulting jobs. PwC lags the market on salary. Performance bonuses for each performance rating are about half what you might expect from a Consulting firm. Retirement plan is minimal and has a 5 year vesting schedule, so the vast majority of staff can expect to never collect on the employer contributions. The health plan is decent but the employee contribution is pretty high for a professional services firm.

PwC's client relationships aren't as strong as they should be, so strategy projects are often sold on price, rather than value. Strategy projects are routinely underpriced, cutting rates and staff hours allocated without reducing the scope of work promised to the client. For staff, that means that you're working double hours and not getting rewarded for it.

Expectations around utilization and how many hours you can bill per day don't account for the substantial differences between M&A type projects (very long hours, high pressure, short duration, unpredictable nature of when these projects come up), Strategy projects (long hours, 2-3 months duration, somewhat unpredictable demand), and long-term implementation type projects (more reasonable hours, duration of 12+ months, highly predictable demand). Overall, the expectations set for staff are based on the long-term implementation projects, so you'll have to make a tough choice between doing strategic projects that offer growth and learning opportunities, and staff-augmentation projects that hit your utilization numbers to keep you employed.

PwC has some interesting projects, but you'll sacrifice your utilization metrics, because the strategic projects aren't as well defined. Directors won't communicate a clear end date for your current project, making it difficult to get seamless staffing onto the next project if you're not 100% sure when you'll come available. Some Partners will try to hold on to a particular staff member even when start dates are delayed due to client reasons -- but staff is accountable for utilization and during those days or weeks on hold, your utilization will drop off rapidly. Because despite PwC's focus on ethical practices, more often than not you will be pressured to under-report your hours by as much as 50%. If you don't comply, you'll be penalized in your reviews, and if you do comply, you'll still be penalized because your performance (billable hours) is less than that of your peers.

Your mileage may vary -- the organizational culture within Advisory is highly inconsistent. I've worked for some excellent Partners and Directors who really support their people, and I've also worked for some Directors who lack the ability to communicate effectively and treat staff as disposable commodities. If you can find a great Partner or Director to work with, stick with that person as long as possible.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

If you expect to recruit and retain top talent, make upward feedback a larger component of the annual performance review process for Partners and Directors. These folks have wildly inconsistent expectations of staff at any given level. The good ones realize they can't push staff to the point of exhaustion and burnout, but quite a few haven't made this connection yet.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
No opinion of CEO

4983 Other Employee Reviews for PwC (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    Great place to start a career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Experienced Audit Associate
    Current Employee - Experienced Audit Associate

    I have been working at PwC full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Smart coworkers
    Exciting opportunities
    Sr. Mgt. is pushing work-life balance
    Firm has name recognition world wide
    If you want to spend an entire career here you will end up being paid for it

    Cons

    Long hours
    Highly regulated industry
    For assurance, compensation is very average until you make manager

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Tax Director San Jose CA

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Tax Director  in  San Jose, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Tax Director in San Jose, CA (US)

    I have been working at PwC full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Excellent career opportunity for those who are willing to give all time and devote his / her and families life goal to supporting the firm. The sky's the limit.

    Cons

    You are a cog in the machine, so be careful not to get ground up

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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