Interview Joram Prinsen - PwC

Since doing his master thesis at PwC  in 2013, Joram Prinsen has been with the company ever since, growing into the function of ‘Manager Audit & Assurance’. His function at PwC allows him to combine his passion for the digitalization of the accountancy profession with his drive for personal development.

Joram his main focus is on ‘digitize and grow’. How will PwC reach its goal to standardize more and more of the manual, respective tasks? This is done in several steps, where the first step is standardization. This relates to creating efficiencies in the standard workflows. One way of doing this is by requesting the client to provide their audit deliverables in a certain format, or by outsourcing a large part of the work to delivery centers who are specialized in executing specific tasks. The next step is automating the work. One of the short term goals is to avoid sampling, working towards continuous auditing. Joram enjoys the continuous process of the digitalization of accountancy, thereby increasing efficiency, getting rid of standard and repetitive tasks and increasing the fun

What have you noticed over the last year related to these changes in accountancy?

We are in a continuous transition process with the client. Clients ask more of PwC than just executing the audit, and PwC tries to help the client in further digitizing their administration related to the process described above.

Which qualities does one need to become a manager?

Social skills are much more important in the accountancy profession than most people think. It is important to keep the right balance in the relationship with the client, and to make sure team members are happy. As a manager, I show empathy and I need to work together with many different personalities and cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, social skills are important in handling clients, some clients are more difficult than others. It is also important to handle unexpected impracticalities in team staffing due to illness or other unexpected personal situations.

What soft skills are important in your work?

A digital mindset is important, new employees have more of a digital mindset and the mindset of current employees is changing. You should not be afraid to continuously ask questions, give input and give your personal opinion on how your daily job could be improved and automated by using software tools. Furthermore, Joram stresses the importance of strategic thinking, something which is not learned in your studies. “I learn a lot by doing as well, sitting at the client, working with different people, having new projects all the time. That’s why I like PwC.”

Each year, I change my client portfolio with at least one big client, and I work on different projects. Currently, I have one full day per week in my planning to focus on innovation within our business unit. For example, at the moment we are bringing together audit teams with technical colleagues to built workflows by making use of the software Alteryx. With this software, we automate repetitive, manual tasks to decrease the workload and enable people to focus on the fun parts.

What does your average workweek look like?

“It sounds a bit silly but as a manager, I manage.” Because Joram his personal focus is digital, he has the chance to work on this one day a week where he is the link between the engagement teams and the digital associates. Furthermore, he is responsible for the planning of his teams on clients. “An audit is always very dynamic, and there are always situations within the team or at the client which are not as expected. Staffing the right people at the right place, keeping the client satisfied and the team members happy is always a challenge.” Furthermore, he continually evaluates the projects.  “How many hours did we budget, how is the quality of the deliverables from the client, and most importantly, how are my team members feeling? Are they feeling alright or do they need extra support somehow?”

In relation to PwC’s focus on the individual, Joram is also a performing coach for several less experienced colleagues. He reflects on how people do their work and how they could develop. He also coaches other people on the job. On the other side, he also has a coach himself, and his coach also has a coach, and so on. Even the partners and the members of the board have a coach. At PwC the focus lies on personal development and growth. You never stop learning, even when you are working at PwC for 30 years or longer as some senior partners do. Everyone learns more each day.

What are your goals?

“I would like to say in a year: By creating a digital mindset with our colleagues, and by providing them with the right technical support, we have increased our quality,  we saved a significant amount of hours and we have increased the fun.

What else can you tell about PwC?

“PwC has a special focus on the individual. Look at the logo of PwC which contains the colors Red, Orange, and Yellow. These are warm, friendly colors and this is reflected in the workplace. We find diversity very important related to gender, cultural background, sexual orientation and people with disabilities.

In the office, PwC uses an “Activity Based Working” concept. This means no one has his own office anymore and different areas are created for different purposes. Your workspace  is based on your activity. There are areas for when you need to call, want to work with a team or special quiet zones for the ones who need to focus for a couple of hours.

This open workspace makes it less of an obstacle, physically as well as mentally, for people to talk to for example more senior colleagues and it is more easy to speak to all different departments you work with during engagements.

Furthermore, PwC offers a lot of room for personal development. Joram has around 100 training ours a year in technical as well as social skills. He also has the freedom to work on another project every half year making the work divers.

What does the profile of the ideal candidate look like?

There is no ideal candidate, we are hiring many different people with many different capabilities, personalities, and backgrounds. Because of the digitization of the accountancy profession, we are also actively recruiting people with another than ‘standard’ background, like students with a STEM-profile like data-analytics or mathematics. We are looking for diverse profiles. PwC wants to become a tech company, and for that, you need colleagues with different insights. The curriculum of studies like accountancy will change along.

What does PwC offer to students?

PwC offers working student jobs, internships and facilitates that students would like to write their thesis at PwC. During this process, students get the possibility to experience everything PwC has to offer.

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