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PwC Australia

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  • #3 in Accounting & advisory
  • > 100,000 employees

Susanna Su

I think the thrill of settling transactions and creating major commercial outcomes for clients is what keeps corporate lawyers going – it’s certainly one aspect that I find exhilarating.

Where did you grow up? 

I was born and raised in Sydney. I made the move to Canberra to study at the ANU and have since spent some time living and working in Beijing and New York. I returned to Sydney to start my grad role at the beginning of 2018.

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it? 

I participated in PwC’s Legal Clerkship program in Melbourne during the summer of 2016 and was offered a graduate position commencing 2018. I asked to be considered for the Sydney office and the firm was very flexible in granting that request! I was qualified as a solicitor in late 2018 and am currently a Senior Consultant with PwC Legal. 

How did you choose your specialisation?

While applying for grad jobs, I was tossing up between law and consulting as I was very interested in exploring both career paths. The role with PwC Legal seemed like the perfect chance to get a taste of each, as I’d be working as a lawyer in a firm with a strong consulting practice, with the chance to work on collaborative projects together. It seemed like a great opportunity to strengthen the skills I already had, while being able to create something more dynamic with my degree. I also resonated with PwC’s mission of helping to solve the tough challenges of society, and the chance to be able to use my unique skill set to drive real impact for our clients.

What was your interview process like?

Applying was super easy! I just needed to submit an online application (without the need for a CV!), which took only 10-15 minutes really, and this was followed up by an online assessment. I was then invited to record a video interview, which involved introducing myself to the camera and recording responses to some pre-recorded questions. I then attended an assessment centre, which was fun as it involved a number of individual and team tasks, and an interview with two partners. A lot of questions were asked over this process! The key ones that stick out are – ‘why do you want to work for PwC Legal’ and ‘tell us about your passions’ – they want to know what drives you and what makes you tick. The fact that there’s no CV really helped set the stage for bigger conversations on what my skills and interests were, and what I could bring to the role. 

What does your employer do? 

PwC Legal is one of the world’s largest legal services network by geography – we have over 3,600 lawyers across 100+countries. The Legal team at PwC Australia started on our growth journey fairly recently and now has over 110 lawyers with expertise across Corporate, Finance, Projects, Regulatory and Employment law. Also, PwC Legal was recognised as AFR’s Most Popular Clerkship Employer in 2019, which speaks to it being a pretty great place to work.

What are your areas of responsibility?

I am a lawyer within the Corporate practice, so my matters span private M&A (Mergers and Acquisition) and restructure (both local and global), public markets, financial services, and general corporate and commercial legal advice.

Can you describe a typical workday?

I’m usually juggling a couple of matters on any given day, so a typical workday might involve starting with an internal team call with our Melbourne colleagues on a due diligence matter, coordinating documents for an M&A completion, reviewing documents to prepare a due diligence report, collaborating with a Tax colleague to get their thoughts on a restructure, and setting aside some time to plan an event for our gender equality network. I love how multifaceted my role is and the chance to be able to work with people of diverse backgrounds and skillsets and learn from each other. 

What are the career prospects with your job? 

Legal is a great launchpad into so many career paths because so many industries value the analytical and communication skills you develop as a lawyer. If you want to stay in law, of course you can progress within the law firm hierarchy or go in-house. I’ve also heard of many

lawyers going into different industries – compliance and risk, finance and consulting are popular options, and some go on to set up their own start-ups.

Could someone with a different background do your job? 

Given that you would be working as a lawyer in PwC Legal, you’d need to have studied law at university as a minimum. It really doesn’t matter what other degrees you’ve studied, whether Arts, Commerce, International Relations, even Science, as we accept students with a diverse variety of double degrees. More important is how you approach a problem, whether you are a continuous learner and open to new challenges and whether you have a passion for the integrated legal services offering that we value so highly at PwC.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

I think I would have gone with option B which was consulting – I actually had a graduate offer with a consulting firm so I probably would have been working across tech-focussed projects with a social impact lens.

What do you love the most about your job? 

I think the thrill of settling transactions and creating major commercial outcomes for clients is what keeps corporate lawyers going – it’s certainly one aspect that I find exhilarating. It also helps that the people I work with at PwC Legal are such a supportive and cohesive team, so that makes me really look forward to my workday. The diversity of people, skill-set and background makes it a creative process, where there’s no one size fits all. Our collaborative approach to problem solving has helped me grow as a person and use my skills in more ways than I thought.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? 

Stress levels can certainly be high when it comes to crunch time and deliverable deadlines are imminent – but I think this helps motivate us to deliver optimum results to our clients and make sure that our advice and assistance is watertight. As a lawyer, I obviously feel like I need to take responsibility for the advice that I give clients!  Fortunately, the support we have from our managers and the leadership team helps us be strategic and respond with insight. In terms of work-life balance, PwC is all about flexible working, so I am able to work from home on a regular basis.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? 

  1. Go out there and live life. Get as many internships as you can across as many industries that you’re interested in, go work part-time at a few different places, and travel as much as you can – do an overseas exchange if your degree allows. There will never be another time in your life when you can do all of these things.
  2. Study smart. I’m sure you don’t want to be holed up in a library all day, so figure out how to study effectively to retain information and ace your assessments, because these skills will carry through to life in the workplace. And if you’re not loving your degree, try take some classes outside of your core major to explore some other interests – you never know what passion you might spark and how that may relate to the career path you choose.
  3. Put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Whether that’s helping set up a start-up, learning a new language, or even just getting past your shyness and organising and promoting events for a student society, getting out of your comfort zone is how you grow the most. Once you enter the workforce, you’ll realise that you will continually come across times when you need to step outside of your comfort zone, so making it a habit now makes it just that little bit less daunting when the time comes around!