PricewaterhouseCoopers Central and Eastern Europe (PwC CEE) - actively performs as SDC in Central and Eastern Europe already for 25 years. PwC CEE is a network of companies that consists of separate juridical entities according to local laws and regulations. The company works to help its clients to achieve more success on local markets and become competitive on global level. Currently, PwC has more than 10 000 employees, including 281 partners in 56 offices and in 29 countries of region.
Iryna Maksymenko, Head of Service Delivery Center in Lviv, kindly responded to the initiative of being interviewed by Lviv Investment Office representative.
Interviewer: When and where did PwC started in Lviv and Ukraine?
Iryna Maksymenko: Last year, PwC celebrated 25 years of work in Ukraine. The company opened its first office in Kiev in 1993, and then began to develop a regional network. PwC has always considered Lviv as a promising region. Since 2008, the company is operating here in Lviv and in April 2018, PwC expanded its presence in Western Ukraine by opening a Shared Delivery Center (SDC). The SDC already employs 156 specialists and we continue to look for talented young people. The Shared Delivery Center is a regional PwC investment, meaning we are looking to provide services not only in Ukraine but also actively engage in PwC projects in Central and Eastern Europe.
Interviewer: What is PwC? What activity does it carry out and what services does it provide?
Iryna Maksymenko: PwC is one of the largest international networks of companies providing audit, tax and consulting services. A range of services served by PwC CEE in Ukraine is quiet wide. These are, of course, audit services; taxation services, for example, consulting on corporate income taxation, transfer pricing, international trade; as well as consulting services, such as operational efficiency improvement services, M&A transaction support, forensics. We work not only with the corporate sector, but also with many state institutions and donor organizations in Ukraine.
Interviewer: How has PwC developed over the years in Lviv? What are your future plans, goals and prospects?
Iryna Maksymenko: Now our priority is a further development of shared delivery center. Just over a year, we have formed a staff of 156 specialists. And this is just the beginning. We plan to double its quantity by December this year and by 2023 our goal is 500 people.
Interviewer: What are the opportunities for young professionals in Lviv?
Iryna Maksymenko: We offer work to students, graduates, as well as professionals who already have some experience in various fields. We always have a lot of vacancies open, since we plan to double by December, which means that we still have vacancies today. Why is this interesting? First, we bring in both students and graduates, that is, young people without even experience. We offer unique opportunities for training, development and work in a first-class international company. Our employees have the opportunity to work with our best experts from different countries. Such kind of experience is unique in Ukraine. Knowledge of English is important to us, and we are also looking for specialists with knowledge of Eastern European languages such as Czech, Slovak, Polish, Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian. Jobs are open in different departments: audit, accounting, transfer pricing, financial analysis, financial risk management and others. Moreover, we are also looking for specialists in global mobility (taxation in different countries), etc.
Interviewer: What is the uniqueness of PwC compared to other shared service centers in Ukraine?
Iryna Maksymenko: Usually, the Shared Services Centers sort through the accounting and financial processes, such as bank statements, payments, payments with suppliers and customers. Such operations are carried out in very large volumes and, accordingly, SSC staff very often is engaged in only one operation, which significantly limits their learning and development perspectives as they provide only accounting or financial services. What makes us different from such standard SSC’s is that we are engaged in the same services as PwC does in the whole world that is audit, consulting, tax services. This means that we have many different directions and the employee can try himself in the area that is most interesting to him and does not do daily routine work that gives him the opportunity to develop as a specialist.
Interviewer: How do you see the development of BPO / SSC in Lviv and Ukraine?
Iryna Maksymenko: I think that the direction is very promising and I know that many Ukrainian companies start to think of such service centers as they understand that to automate their business processes it is best to do it when everything is in one place. Today some of enterprises try to centralize accounting and human resources questions for further automation of business processes. On the other hand, the markets of Eastern Europe – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are very over-saturated with such kind of centers that is problematic to start additional centers there due to the small number of human resources. For Ukraine, this is a high chance to grab a place in the BPO / SSC market and develop this direction with dignity. Again, speaking of cities, Lviv is very promising and we have opened a center here, because we have seen many advantages – the presence of a large number of students with knowledge of different European languages and higher education institutions, not excluding a well-developed infrastructure here.
Interviewer: What changes do you think need to be made at the state or local level to improve the BPO / SSC environment and stimulate further industry growth?
Iryna Maksymenko: Remembering our experience – the best is when a little change occurs, because in fact, any business is not very into radical change, but prefers predictable processes. Undoubtedly changes must take place; nothing stands still in the public or political fields. But business needs to understand where the state is heading in order to prepare for it. Speaking about the changes that are taking place, in my opinion, currency deregulation, which is presently being conducted by the National Bank of Ukraine, should continue. This should support macroeconomic stability in the country. And again, we are talking about predictable macroeconomic indicators (GDP growth, inflation, exchange rate, etc.). The reform of the judicial system should also continue, so that owners know that they can defend their rights in court if necessary.
Interviewer: What difficulties did the company face when it started operations and how did it overcome them?
Iryna Maksymenko: Speaking of the service center in Lviv, we didn`t have any major problems during the opening and development of the center. The only thing to note is the quality of the recruitment agencies in Lviv, which proved unsatisfactory, and the students’ low awareness of the “Big Four” companies, large international auditing and consulting firms. On the other hand, thanks to these difficulties, we quickly built our own recruiting department to help us maintain the rapid growth of the center. In order to raise the awareness of students about our company, we have started working with universities. A lot of time was invested and talked about who we are and what we do, about the possibilities of working in our company. Now we are giving lectures at the largest universities in Lviv and helping university workers with practical tasks where we share real knowledge and cases with students. We are still holding Open Days and Excel courses in the office, for example, in May and July we had several events and those interested could immediately fill out the questionnaire and come for an interview. These were probably the biggest problems.
Interviewer: What should companies expect to do such kind of activity in the Ukrainian market?
Iryna Maksymenko: In our experience, they should be prepared to invest time in promoting their brand as an employer for a potential student pool. You also need to be prepared to actively engage your own experienced professionals for the first few years to train and develop your employees.
Interviewer: What are PwC’s initiatives in Ukraine addressed to solve global social and economic issues?
Iryna Maksymenko: At a global level, PwC aim is to build trust in society and solve important issues. For more details, here are some examples from our practice in Ukraine. We actively cooperate with donor organizations that implement projects to increase transparency of the activities of central and regional authorities, to resist corruption, to implement the principles of effective public administration and to improve legislation. We help businesses, both through individual client projects and through the creation of platforms for communication and exchange of experience. These are our conferences and other business events. We are actively working with universities to help develop curricula based on current labor market needs and global business standards. These are, first and foremost, lectures by leading PwC specialists and special professional events and programs for students. In addition, PwC has a social responsibility program. There are many initiatives – from financial support to charitable events to environmentally conscious day-to-day business.
More information about PwC is available at www.pwc.com.