In the business of education

Experiences on a PWC Scholarship

The PwC Experience

A long-time yet quiet supporter of further education for Caymanians in the field of accounting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cayman Islands currently has seven full-time scholarship awardees all busy working towards their accounting degrees and then on to full CPA qualification. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull speaks with PwC staff to appreciate this ingrained culture of learning and reports.

Some of the most prominent members of the Cayman community received their further education grounding with PwC, including the Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson, the Education Minister Rolston Anglin and DMS boss Don Seymour. These senior members of society are but a handful of the many successful individuals who obtained professional designations through support from the firm and went on to achieve great things.

“Offering scholarships to enthusiastic youngsters looking to forge out a career in accounting has been an intrinsic part of PwC’s culture for around 30 years,” partner Frazer Lindsay explains. “In recent years we have offered approximately two scholarships a year to the right candidates, mostly for young people to study accounting overseas as well as at the University College of the Cayman Islands.”

PwC has found the provision of scholarships the perfect means for rooting out the best focused individuals for their own specific work culture.

“When an individual comes to PwC we are not just looking for straight A students,” Jaslyne Bridges, director, comments.

“They must display a strong personality that fits in with our culture and philosophy. They have to be self starters, able to work on their own initiative, be happy to start at the bottom with a view to working their way up and have the confidence to deal with clients. They also have to have a good attitude within the workplace, enjoy socialising with their work mates and have a general respectful attitude towards everyone with whom they work.”

Lindsay says such individuals have definitely stepped up to the plate in recent years, with some excellent candidates applying for scholarships.

“And it’s interesting to note that the quality keeps getting higher and higher each year that we offer scholarships,” he adds.

PwC scholarships are comprehensive – all study for a degree in accounting is paid for plus additional expenses – at a cost to the firm of up to US$30,000 per year per individual.

Lindsay says:

“It’s not an inconsiderable sum and we think long and hard before committing to any one individual. We in turn require the individual to commit to work with us for three years post qualification. During this time we will pay for the individual to obtain their CPA exams, offering at least 12 weeks study leave in addition to expenses paid. The CPA exams are preceeded by the Becker Review course, which each candidate undertakes in a bid to get them fully prepared for the exams themselves.”

Partner Sean Parchment adds:

“I have had the unique opportunity of watching the scholarship programme grow and develop over my 18 years with the firm. My own accounting degree was funded through Coopers & Lybrand – one of the precursor firms of PwC. In the intervening time the programme has become an excellent recruitment tool. We regularly meet with groups of high school students to encourage interest in accounting as a profession. For some of those students, our scholarship programme then becomes the means to facilitate their entry into the field.”

In addition to its scholarship programme, PwC also takes in a slew of summer interns, usually including those on scholarships, but also offering other young people from the UCCI or the high schools who are interested in pursuing a career in accounting. Youngsters from the high schools can also take part in work placements programmes, sometimes coming to work at the firm for a few weeks at a stretch or perhaps every Friday for a set period of time, depending on the schools’ programme. In addition, PwC participates and supports the Passport 2 Success programme, started through the Ministry of Education this year. 

“We think this is a great way for youngsters at an early age to understand what it’s like working in an office environment and whether it’s the type of career they would want when they finish studying,” Lindsay says.

In addition to all of the above, he says the firm listens closely to the needs of its staff and assists where possible with extra education that might be requested. For example, at the time of writing a Caymanian member of staff with a hospitality degree was being sponsored to obtain his accounting degree.

“Accounting is a great profession because once you have mastered the necessary qualifications there is a huge variety of career choices that accountants can make. A scholarship with PwC sets a strong career foundation for life.

The PwC Experience  

These are the core behaviours and values that PwC promotes for its people:

  • We enhance value through quality;
  • We put ourselves in each other’s shoes;
  • We share and collaborate;
  • We invest in relationships.

Front row, from left, Brianna Ebanks, Kadi Merren, Sean Parchment, William Hinds. Back row: Kurt Bulgin, Janeen Welcome (Passport 2 Success student), Arlond Brooks, Ashley Soto, Jodi McTaggart, Alex Gordon, Raymond Hydes, Niall Flynn.