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The utilities sector is facing one of its greatest periods of disruption ever and as CFO, Catherine Vandenborre, along with her team, has an important role to play in helping the firm navigate the increasingly complex world and prepare for the future. "Our people need to become more agile and dare to challenge the norm, that’s key to facing digitalisation and innovation," she says.
To investigate how innovation can support the evolution of her field, Catherine Vandenborre and around ten team members spent a day in PwC’s Experience Centre (EC) in Brussels.
"The finance function’s in transition," says Catherine Vandenborre. "While tasked with supporting corporate growth, we also need to become more efficient, more digital and more innovative. We need to reimagine the way we work and open up the world of possibilities," she adds.
Technologies are a key ingredient in offering people an amenable work environment. PwC’s already invested substantially in technologies that enable our people to enjoy greater work/life balance by being able (when appropriate) to work from their choice of location.
Our upcoming new offices – PwC House in Antwerp and PwC Campus in Diegem (our new Brussels office) – put an extra focus on mobility and quality of life. Already, and new for FY19, we now offer regular, free yoga sessions and pilates lessons.
Adyla El Hajjaji, a Manager in our Tax practice, believes, "initiatives like these make a real difference in retaining talent. It shows our core values in action and that they’re more than just words. Over the last eight years I’ve worked with PwC, I’ve seen really positive changes in helping people look after their health."
The difficulty of attracting key skills is something The Kobi Company, whose technology can turn almost any device into an autonomous robot, is well aware of. It competes for top talent by not only offering a workplace where curious minds are challenged on a daily basis while having fun, but one where "people’s achievements are not just acknowledged, but tangible," Steven Waelbers, Founder and CTO of The Kobi Company, enthuses. But he also understands the need to be an attractive employer from a financial viewpoint.
"PwC worked with us to set up an effective stock options plan to reward our people for the real value they’re contributing to our growth. They also helped us work out tax-beneficial packages that would help us attract the deep technical skills we need, from all around the world," he says. This includes the transfer of copyrights in a tax-optimal way, obtaining employment cost-savings for R&D activities, global mobility management and expat remuneration.
To make sure we stay on track with what people expect at PwC, we undertake a global people survey that allows everyone within the firm to share their perceptions on a variety of aspects that influence current and future policies.
At PwC, being an employer of choice is a strategic imperative and we believe it’s a critical differentiator of our market position. We also seek to connect with our potential future workforce to understand their expectations.
In 2017, PwC developed Tenzing, our chatbot that supports our graduate recruitment process. Over time, the bot’s been upgraded with a new look and additional functionalities.
"Just as we do with clients, we explored which technologies, such as voice activation, could enhance the bot’s functionality and selected to only implement those that make sense for this use case and are able to optimise the bot’s functionality," says Jens Devloo, PwC chatbot expert. We call on advanced technologies at careers fairs too with participants able to chat live with PwC experts in our offices via Google Hangout.
Final-year students also have the opportunity to interact with the technologies PwC works with every day at our annual PwC Digital Master Class. This year, we focused on AI, RPA, forensics and more. Interactive workshops showed how PwC embraces the way the younger generations in particular expect to be able to work.
Our focus on technology and making sure our people remain comfortable in a digital world continues long after they’ve been hired. We’ve been working for some time on an upskilling agenda to help everyone at PwC become more digitally savvy and make sure we all stay relevant and leading in what we do, resulting in a framework under the umbrella title of Your Tomorrow.
The framework facilitates the broad upskilling of everyone within PwC Europe, enabling us to establish foundational digital skills and raise awareness for digitisation, complemented by intermediate and advanced upskilling levels. Everyone within PwC Europe is taking part in the Foundation level that comprises the advanced initiatives already in place; our digital fitness app, Digital Bootcamps, D&A elearning offering and Vantage, our digital learning platform that’s driving a self-paced, learner-driven culture.
"We want our people to feel fully in charge of their future. They learn to access our learning and development system already during onboarding and discover what’s expected of them from the outset. Going forward, they decide on their career path – with guidance and support – and can then find resources to help them acquire the skills they need to move along this path. This includes technical and softer skills as well as digital capabilities – a key focal point for the firm," explains Ingrid Grupping, Learning & Development lead with PwC Belgium.
PwC’s focus on continual learning is one of the many reasons we’re considered to be the ‘Best business school in the world’," she adds.