Josh Irish (Class of 2012) Management Consultant, PwC
How did CLS get you ready for the world of work?
CLS was a great opportunity to not only gain great teaching in academic subjects but also to learn from others and understand softer skills and insights for the job market.
Furthermore, I had teachers and form tutors whom put a lot of effort into making sure I received any assistance I needed to get through my academic studies. Just before my GCSE’s I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit-Disorder (ADD), for which I then had extra assistance from the school. Additionally, during my gap year I retook some of my exams in order to gain my university place grades, for which a special mention goes to Mr Silvester. He continued to give me guidance, even whilst I was no longer officially still at the City of London School, which proved invaluable in reaching my targeted grades, and first-choice University place.
What was your first job?
My first unofficial job was working with my Dad, in his Window and Carpet Cleaning business. This started when I was at school during my summer breaks mostly. However, my first official full-time job was at PwC, joining the Management Consulting graduate program. This followed internships however, during my first and second years (also with PwC & others), as well as work experience during my gap year (Tanzania).
I joined PwC in September 2016, as a graduate. It was a great experience to start work, with PwC having a large intake of graduates (interns) at one time. This meant there was a large social element from day one, which always helps to make your first few days and weeks less daunting. The social element has remained to this day in fact, with networking remaining a huge part of my day to day job and career progression. Initially, this is something I underappreciated, so I’ve welcomed the fact I started this experience early on.
My graduate role came with the opportunity and also expectation, that I would rotate between the different disciplines of Consulting, we have at PwC. This ranges from Technology (where I now sit), to Operations, Finance, Strategy, and Portfolio & Programme Management, to name a few. These competencies sit across all sectors we work in, being Private, Government & Health Industries, as well as Financial Services sectors.
My graduate role lasted for around 18 months, and during this time I rotated between all sectors within varying competencies, which allowed me to gain a breadth of knowledge and experience within Management Consulting. As well a this being beneficial for personal goals, it also made my choice for specialisation (Technology Consulting), more targeted.
Your biggest professional achievement?
My biggest professional achievement is from the last Consulting project that I’ve worked on. For around a year and a half, I worked within a multinational firm, with operations in almost 70 countries which had taken on one of the largest tech-led business transformations currently.
My role centred around management of three separate teams (functioning as one), spread across the UK, India and Poland mainly. This concluded in me reporting back into the senior stakeholders at the firm’s HQ in London. The project demands meant that I had to lean on any current skills as well as learn new ones, around project/delivery management, working across different cultures/borders, working travel and team leadership.
In the end, I was able to take on a new role which stretched my previously known limitations, giving me more confidence to push on in learning and growing my Consulting skill set.
Your most challenging professional moment?
My most challenging professional moment also comes from the same project, as above. In general, I find that the most challenging part of my job is always the start of a new consulting project, with you being expected to be familiar with the company and project details very quickly. In addition to this, you also have to accustom and adjust to new team structures, team members and ways of working and methodologies. One example of this, was the use of Agile methodology for program delivery which was employed on my last project. Due to the size of the programme, the principles of Agile became extremely tested. It was on a constant basis that I needed to be on a drive to learn from any shortcomings in delivery and turn these around in time for our next checkpoint. I was able to build on this by taking additional Certifications and learning courses. For instance, I studied for and gained my Professional Scrum Master certification and well as further certifications in Salesforce, which was the technology used in the project. The result was that through focused learning, I could improve my contribution to the project, increasing my ownership and responsibility for client delivery.
What inspires and motivates you at work?
Furthering my learning to keep up with the pace of new experiences, is the major motivation for me at work. Within Consulting, the range of work you can get involved in is almost never-ending, and so the learning opportunities are constant as a result. As a management consultant, our role is centered around creating and implementing new solutions to new problems. This means that the day to day on goings of the job constantly change, meaning you have to be able to adapt alongside this.
One piece of advice for pupils and other Old Citizens about getting into your profession?
I would encourage you to be curious and inquisitive as soon as you can! This will give yourself ample time to try different things and find out what would most likely be your best fit, before making a full-time commitment. It also has the added benefit of relieving pressure in terms of time constraints when it does come time to apply for your dream position! You can use any saved time to relax and recuperate some more. All things learned now, no matter how big or small, will be there on your side in the future.
Joshua is registered as a mentor on Citizens Connect