So this business trip idea came about in October, but due to the demands of coursework,exams and other commitments,our team could only start executing the plans for the trip in January-with help from our President’s Mentor,Isaiah Baidoo (he is the man in the picture).
Let me start with how the idea even came to mind. So, I wanted to do something big for the society…something beneficial and challenging and I thought a business trip in London, organised solely by five girls would be the perfect challenge for us.
It was stressful, I will not lie. As it was the first official business trip for the society, there was a lot of pressure to execute really well, because if this went well we would definitely be offered another opportunity to come back and that would be a big deal for Women Empowered and its future members.although it was stressful,it was so rewarding at the end of it;that warm feeling of accomplishment alongside the gratitude and joy expressed by the girls made all the stress worthwhile.
Although it was stressful,it was so rewarding at the end of it;nothing beats that warm feeling of accomplishment, alongside the gratitude and joy expressed by the girls at the end of the trip really made all the hard work worthwhile.
We arrived Thursday evening …
…immediately as soon as we dropped our bags, being the serious professionals that we are, we thought it was only right to go and get a manicure! It was a very amusing way to bond with each other, whilst we chatted away about our excitement for the work shadowing day at PwC, what we would wear, the women we would be work shadowing and what we would have for lunch! After that we all had some KFC for dinner and then had our briefing before bed, then everyone hit the snooze button soon after.
Friday Comes-D Day…
The Work Shadowing day. I was nervous but really excited! Nervous because the girls were in different PwC offices in London, therefore I was not physically able to oversee what the girls were up to. Now you have to understand this was the first time some of the girls had been in such a high-profile environment, so everything was new to them;from the business attire, the use of correct grammar at all times and trying not to get lost in these huge offices. However, I am glad to report that the feedback from the female leaders at PwC was that everyone was well behaved and they were great ambassadors for the society and the Universty of Hull.
Also, some of our girls were not familiar with London so I was worried that they would get to their locations late or worse- get lost in London alone! Every Londoner knows that feeling of frustration and utter confusion when you realise you should have gotten off at Bank to get the DLR to Canary Wharf and now you have found yourself in zone 4-Lewisham.Every Londoner knows how that morning rush hour can leave your heart pumping faster than Usain Bolt’s races.By the time you jump on the tube you’ve sweated a ton,then to add to your discomfort the tube is packed full of other workers so there’s no space to rest you aching back and legs.Oh, the joys of the morning rush hour! Nevertheless, our members were smart enough to just use Google maps,so they all got to their destinations safely and on time!
When my group arrives at the More London Office, we whip out our smartphones and start snapping the attractive architecture around us, the pretty restaurants lined up neatly in a row ready for the consumers to prowl inside and have a gander, the fountain sprouting out water and the tourists walking up and down in awe just like we were..the whole atmosphere , in general, was lovely and added to the excitement for the work shadowing day.
As everyone was split up into their different locations every girl had a different experience, so I will present the experience of the girls at the More London office, on their behalf.
First of all, wearing that Red and White PwC badge made me feel so special and then when I tapped on the metal entry barrier to enter the offices,it felt like I was one of them-like it was meant to be.I had now become a PwC professional for the day…well until you glance on my badge and you see ‘visitor’ in bold black letters. My mentor, who had organised the work shadowing day on my behalf, takes me to my female leader for the day and she greets me with a pleasant smile,an air of elegance and self-assurance.She spoke eloquently about her working background, from when she was an undergraduate like myself until her current role now at PwC and I was very impressed. I am not allowed to regurgitate too much about her,personal file,but let me say she did impressively well for a young girl with big dreams from Australia.Additionally,I listened to her and her assistant prepare for a presentation with one of the male directors, if I recall correctly they were preparing a proposal to win over another big client.Again I am not allowed to divulge into full details but just know the client was in every newspaper headline in 2007 till 2009.
Afterwards,when they were done with their prep, we headed up the flight of stairs, into the massive office room space, then turned into the director’s office.Now contrary to popular belief,accountants,analysts,consultants,do have a personality and they even know how to crack a joke! The director greeted me with a big good morning,we joked about the highs and lows of freshers week at University and engaged in conversation about my life, even though he didn’t need to do that. No really he did not need to,as they were on a twenty-minute time schedule before he had to go to his next meeting, but instead he wanted to know about my future career prospects. He seemed pretty impressed by all I said, especially the part where I confessed that I was working really hard to work at his firm. So we continued the conversation and he told me about what he did in his spare time (a bit of polo, going to the theatre with his children and flying out to Asia every other Friday or so… regular people stuff). As this riveting conversation was going on,my female leader and her assistant sat bemused at the whole thing, maybe because they were surprised that the director would take such interest in little old me…after a while though they went back to business and I sat there with my pen and paper analysing a company’s product portfolio,using PESTEL with a very convincing, ” I totally know what you guys are talking about face.”
To continue with the process of the day, my female leader literally had back to back meetings,as we flew from one meeting to the next, I could have sworn I was five pounds lighter at the end of the day. At the end and start of every new meeting she would brief me abut their agenda and if I was understanding the process so far, take the time out to simplify the language they were using in the meetings and the technical things they were tackling currently in the firm.For me, her taking the time out of her busy schedule to do that showed me that there is real understanding between colleagues at PwC, because she never made me feel like I was just a student, but rather a colleague and I really appreciated that,as it gave me the real insight of a day in the life of a working professional woman.
As lunch time was approaching, we had to round up the last meeting, therefore, she had to relieve me of my duties for the day…that sounded so serious, I was just walking behind her and taking notes.
Lunch time with everyone…Julie clearly enjoyed her meal
The girls at PwC Legal at Embankment then joined us at the London Bridge, More London office. Of course they travelled over to us in style…as you can see below
After lunch, everyone congregated at the reception to talk about their day so far and everyone seemed to have the same positive experience. Then we waited for a few PwC professionals, who had recently graduated from University,to come and speak to us about the graduate schemes and their experience so far at the firm.
Needless to say, the discussion was informative and we were given exclusive tips about the interview process when applying for a job with them.If you have not noticed yet, the girls in the society are of ethnic backgrounds so we had to discuss the issues ethnic minorities may face in the workplace especially in regards to the opportunity of career progression. For example, the fact that there are few women,or more glaringly women of colour in these world-renowned firms is an uncomfortable and alarming fact that people tend to avoid discussing. It is made even worse when you realise that out of four of the Big Four Global accounting firms,only two have female CEO’s.The most recent appointed female CEO is Lynne Doughtie of KPMG and this was only last year!
So, Dara Kirton,who is pictured below in the floral print was talking about how we can overcome barriers in the workplace, that could hinder us from achieving more out of our future careers.
At the end of this session, we rounded up the day, said our thank you’s to all the professionals and proceeded to take even more pictures!
Saturday Comes and we just chillax…Some of us headed to Westfields for some retail splurge, some of us went sightseeing on Bond Street and the rest of us just slept at the Hotel. I did not want to stress out the girls too much, so I just let them have the freedom of doing whatever they wanted to do with their evening…
Sunday Morning Mania on our way back to Hull…
That morning was too hectic, just imagine trying to get a bunch of girls who love doing their makeup and hair in the morning to St Pancras by 9am and we were all awake at 7.30am …OH and we were sharing bathrooms so we had only 3o minutes each to get ready. We made our train though so we were not stuck in London!
Overall, the trip was a huge success and this blog could only encapsulate half of its greatness, so I encourage you to join the society next year, in order to get the opportunity to go on more business trips.
Comments from members:
Praise and Julie– “The day was very informative;shadowing a director at PwC was a great experience. Our mentor for the day outlined a normal 9-5 working business day and we shadowed Mrs Vohra throughout our day where we got to attend meetings with her. Being in meetings and observing what goes on in an office, was a great insight into a busy working day of a director.We were also involved in auditing some of the client’s profit statements, which felt like a pretty big deal. At the end of the day, the whole group was made aware of the inclusion and growth in the number of women and people of different ethnic backgrounds. Overall, it was an eye-opening trip that would add volume to, not only to our CVs but to our view to the world of business.”
Lisa-“The weekend trip to London was a good personal experience. I had the opportunity to be part of the work shadowing event at PwC, which was well structured and organised. I gained an increased knowledge of the job role I would like to apply to in the future and my motivation to work at PwC increased due to this work shadowing experience. Additionally,the graduates gave me a lot of advice on interview techniques and guidance on how to prepare for assessment centres. Additionally, through this experience I have developed my networking and communication skills. I am so glad that I attended this weekend trip to London with the society.”
Ife Sarumi, President of the Hull University,Women Empowered Society
“There is strength in Diversity ”