‘As an international student, being away from family can be tough’
My Career Path: Sipho Zincume is a third year PwC associate
Sipho Zincume: “My mentors have been valuable to me in so many ways”
What did you study and when did you graduate?
I studied BA (Honours) in Accounting and Finance at National College of Ireland. I graduated in 2018.
What attracted you to your current role?
The people, their care and friendliness. It has always been my dream to qualify as a Chartered Accountant as it is a career that opens a lot of opportunities. Based on my research, PwC, Ireland’s largest professional services firm, attracted me the most with their superb track record and great focus on developing talent. The graduate team was so welcoming, they displayed so much enthusiasm, excitement and care, answering my never-ending questions with patience. They explained in detail all the various departments within the firm, the roles, the culture, benefits and opportunities beyond my training with PwC. I immediately submitted my application and the rest is history. I am now enjoying the experience of learning, fun and continuous growth in a really supportive organisation.
What did you find most challenging about the working world?
What I found challenging was managing time between working and studying. As a student registered with CAI, you are expected to attend lectures, sometimes midweek (evenings) and on weekends. This becomes challenging especially during our busy period when there is a high expectation to deliver exceptional results to our clients. This means that time management is key, as is prioritising and taking ownership of your responsibilities. However, there is a huge amount of support available in PwC such as a generous study leave policy and in-house tutoring amongst other things which have really helped me to adapt.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what is their value to you?
Yes, I was assigned a personal mentor on the first day of onboarding. However, I have been fortunate to have seniors who have also informally become my mentors for different aspects of my journey. As an international student, being away from family can be tough but they have made it so easy. My mentors have been valuable to me in so many ways, for example, for guidance (career and general life matters) when facing challenges with exams, coaching (on roles and tasks on the different jobs), understanding every milestone of this career path, and significantly, my career development. By having someone who always believes in your potential, pushing you to grow, I have grown my knowledge, skills and drive to make a difference. During this difficult period of the pandemic, I have received so much support and care and I can confirm that PwC is definitely the employer of choice. The care for their people is highly commendable.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned since you joined the workforce?
That I am capable of handling whatever complex demands I face and is down to PwC’s fantastic support, training and experience. I work with teams of major clients and I am trusted with the tasks that I have been assigned. Our leaders continuously support you to unleash your potential and re-imagine the possible. I was enrolled in the PwC Digital Academy. This academy not only ensures that PwC is one of the most digitally enabled firms in the world but it has helped me improve my own digital skills/literacy. I have become more efficient and effective in my work and I have learnt to appreciate and grasp every opportunity that comes my way.
How has Covid-19 affected you/your working life
COVID-19 has had a minimal impact on me. There were changes to my exam sittings and I was not able to travel home as planned, but the support from the firm has been great as “my family away from home”. In terms of my working life, PwC was ready for the changes. The IT structures and the firm’s digital enhancements are world class and we continue to deliver super service to our clients, while working from home. Although it is human nature to want to physically meet your colleagues, our platforms and channels have helped us stay connected in a virtual world. PwC heavily invests in employee well-being and we have lots of support such as online workout and yoga classes, mindfulness, meditation and virtual coffees, etc.
What is one piece of advice you would offer new graduates?
My advice to new graduates is to make sure you seize every opportunity provided. There are enormous opportunities to grow and make your mark in the world. PwC provides great training, enhancement of skills, opportunities to explore/display your innovative skills and all of this in a fun and exciting environment. So go for it.