As Marketing Executive for LoveLocalJobs.com and the LoveLocalJobs Foundation C.I.C., I spend most of my time sitting at a desk in Brighton. I was, however, lucky enough to be invited to attend a workplace visit with students from Ifield Community College (ICC) who are taking part in the Be the Change programme in Crawley. ICC is paired with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and made the trip to Central London to check out one of their many offices, for the fourth interaction in the programme. Here is my write up…
As the students began to trickle into the large conference room, they quickly stopped all conversation as they were all taken back by the view of Tower Bridge which greeted them. They joined their businesses guides for a quick catch up before Danielle from PwC gave us the agenda for the day.
First up was the office tour. How interesting could an office be, you ask? PwC has created an incredible working space which can hold up to 4,000 staff at one time. We met Pepper the robot, the first robotic member of staff PwC has acquired. She told the students 20% of jobs could be automated over the next 20 years! Next up we saw the tech vending machine which included charging cables and phone cases, which the students were disappointed to learn was only for staff… PwC’s modern office is full of technology to encourage collaboration between teams and support the wellbeing of employees. It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the UK! The building offers roof gardens and green walls which contribute to the building's ecology and is even powered by green gas!
Thankfully none of the students got lost in the 60,850m² across 10 floors the office occupies. The students regrouped with their business guides and were joined by the PwC careers team who ran a session on CV’s and career paths for the students. Laura, a PwC business guide, shared how she got to where she is now within the company. She discussed her school life, going to uni and the opportunities she has been given in at PwC, such as moving to Australia for 2 years.
Alex joined us with VR headsets. He demonstrated how PwC (and many other businesses) use both virtual and augmented reality in their line of work and how technology is evolving. His story differed from Laura’s as he joined straight from school as part of a Higher Apprenticeship scheme PwC offers. This is a brilliant alternative to going to University and something some of the students were keen to find out about.
After a lovely lunch from the in-house Benugo Café, we were joined by a very special guest - Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner at PwC. He joined the firm in 1984 on the graduate training programme and qualified as a chartered accountant (ICAEW). He shared what his role entails and offered advice on how the students could start their careers, exploring what characteristics and attributes were desirable in potential employees. He explained that soft skills and attitude can be more important than qualifications.
Mergim was the final business guide to share his career journey. He introduced the students to the graduate scheme and the Flying Start Programme and explained the many ways someone could join PwC.
The final session saw the business guides give examples of good and bad first impressions. They supported the young people to develop their elevator pitches, helping them with their body language and their tone of voice. Several brave students stood up and shared their pitches. Be the Change helps develop the young people’s confidence and it was very evident the programme has had a brilliant impact on these students already, especially those who plucked up the courage to talk in front of their peers and business guides.
Mr Birkenhead from ICC said “It was tremendous to see the students out of the school and into a workplace environment. Speaking to the young people on the way back it was clear that they had taken a lot away from the day and were immensely grateful”.
We’d like to thank Danielle and everyone at PwC for accommodating the young people and creating such a fantastic day which left the young people feeling inspired about their futures.