Day in the life of PwC's Keith Hassard

  • How does your day typically start?

    What excites me about working for PwC is that no day (or start of) is “typical”. My role has national responsibility meaning I’m split between Belfast, working from home or else across the water.  But PwC’s “everyday flexibility” allows me to have “life balance” vs a “work/life balance”, without having to go through the process of formal flexible working arrangements. It’s hard to put a price on that. With a 2.5 year old and 1 and a bit year old it’s really important to me that I’m there and visible, and I’m fully encouraged and supported to do so.    

    (Apart from coffee….) What is it that motivates you in the morning and gets you energized about your role?

    It may sound like an old cliche but our firm never stands still and with that brings lots of exciting variation (and associated challenge). But when I look back to times when I wasn’t enjoying previous work or roles it was because it was repetitive and predictable. With such a focus on technology as it’s now embedded in all our Lines of service and teams, this means our need to recruit top tech talent keeps on growing.  The exciting part for NI is that Belfast has always been a major tech hub for PwC, and we’ve plans to make it even bigger.  A big part of my role is working to shift perception out there that “PwC is only for accountants”.  Yes we’re a large professional services firm and finance, accountancy and tax are a core part of it, but tech is the lynch pin to our continued growth and our clients’. We’re recruiting and will continue to recruit across the tech spectrum, from Machine Learning, Data & Analytics specialists and Developers, to solution architects, forensic technologists, ERP experts and those helping clients shape their digital business strategies, to name a few.       

    What does the ideal day look like?

    An ideal day for me workwise is one where I see progress in the various work streams and projects I’m involved with or driving.  But it’s always important to remember that when you’re really close to something and in the day to day detail it can sometimes seem that progress isn’t happening as quick as you’d like, but when you take a step back you’ll actually find you’ve achieved alot. Similar to the Bill Gates quote “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”

    If you could change one thing about your daily routine, what would it be?
    Lessen the emails. I’m guilty, we’re all guilty. #keyboardwarriors

    How do you cope when the pressure is on?
    You can’t beat a good old to do list right? Nobody wants to be a busy fool. For me it’s about identifying the drop dead activities that i need to make happen. My biggest coping strategy lies with spending time with the kids though, nothing better to take your mind off the day to day stuff than an episode of Peppa Pig or Mr Tumble or a hop across the fence to the farm next door to see the cows! But I do have a great support network in work including a couple of close mentors who I can bounce off when needed. 

    What tech or apps do you use to plan your day and stay on top of workflow?
    We’ve moved to google for Work about a year and a half ago. It’s a game changer. No more incremental versions of docs being sent around with lots of colleagues being able to work on the same piece of work at once, fire up a hangout in a matter of seconds, greatly reduces the need to travel...

    What gives you a sense of accomplishment?
    For me it’s about thinking up different or new ways of doing things and going about getting them in place. The sense of accomplishment then comes after you see a piece of work or idea you’ve been involved with start to take traction. Take the fully funded Technology Degree apprenticeships that we’re launching in September in Queen’s Belfast, Leeds, Birmingham, Edinburgh and St Andrews, I’m proud to have been involved with them from day zero. The other piece for me, and why I’m enjoying my role so much is the people side, it allows me to work nationally with people from all our Lines of services on a daily basis. I also set myself a personal objective to connect with someone new every week, either internally or externally.    

    What does the next 6 months look like?

    Busy! Only joking, everyone’s busy. We’ve got some ambitious plans to make our already large Tech practice even bigger, so I’ll be working across our Tech hubs in Belfast, Manchester/Leeds, London and Scotland. As a global organisation we’re working closer and closer with the PwC firms in other territories so I’m looking forward to seeing how we can develop those relationships.    

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