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30 June 2008

Feeling proud

Hello again.  I’ve been thinking about the emotion of “pride” over the last few days.  It’s one (the original and most serious, apparently) of the seven deadly sins, it’s also said to “go before a fall”. Wikipedia tells me that “it is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others” – but today, I humbly beg leave to disagree, because I am feeling a huge amount of pride in PwC.

At the time of writing, the “Power of Ten” fundraising effort has raised over $3.3 million to build schools, train teachers, and provide educational supplies for 20,000 Darfur refugee children. So I feel very proud that I work for an organisation which can devise and implement such an amazing accomplishment in just ten short days of fundraising.  Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this incredible campaign. I’ll report back in my next blog entry on the final amount raised.

And an interesting thing happened to me one day last week.  I was waiting to cross the street at the end of the day, carrying my cotton PwC “What Would You Like to Change?” shopping bag.  While I waited for the traffic lights, an elderly lady tapped me on the arm and asked me for directions to the railway station.  I explained where it was and, as it was on my way, walked part of the route with her.  While we walked, she asked me if I worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and gestured towards my bag.  I replied that yes, I did. She responded:

“I thought that you must work for them because you were carrying their bag, and that’s why I decided to ask you for directions.  PwC were the auditors of my late husband’s engineering company and they were always such an honourable firm – so I knew that one of their employees would be able to help me get to the station.”

This encounter left me feeling even more pride in the firm.  And is also proof that interesting things can happen to you when you carry a PwC shopping bag!  Don’t forget to email me with your ideas about change and sustainability if you’d like to be in with a chance to win a PwC bag of your own.

I wrote last month about the forthcoming collaboration between the Tanzanian organisation SELFINA and the PwC Ulysses programme, and thinking about the great work that our Ulysses participants do in so many countries was what prompted me to start considering the notion of pride.  I finally caught up with Dyan Decker just before she left for Tanzania, and here’s what she has to say about her forthcoming trip.  Dyan, who joined PwC in 2002, is based in our Los Angeles office, and I’ll be chatting with her again later this year once she’s returned from Tanzania.

Dyan“I was admitted into the partnership in 2006 and sit in the Los Angeles Advisory practice, where I focus on the Forensic Technology practice which provides our clients with technology-enabled solutions for their dispute and investigative needs. I’ve also recently been asked to coordinate the global activities of the Forensic Technology practice.  In the Los Angeles office, I am the Advisory Diversity leader, driving diversity-related initiatives in the practice. And in the community, I serve on the board of Public Counsel, a large non-profit organisation which provides legal services to the under-privileged in the Los Angeles area.

I was attracted to the Ulysses programme for two primary reasons: the opportunity to give back to the larger global community and the opportunity to further develop my leadership abilities in such a unique environment.  I will be spending two months immersed in the Tanzanian lifestyle and helping to contribute to the growth of SELFINA, a micro-credit organization that leases equipment to entrepreneurial women, as a team with two other PwC partners from Mexico City and Paris.  SELFINA has an aggressive goal of growing from serving 9,000 customers today to serving 100,000 in five years.  We will be working with them to build a plan to enable such growth and to support SELFINA in that transformation.  My skills in the technology and business advisory areas should complement well with the assurance and transactions experience of my fellow teammates in the development of SELFINA’s strategic plan.

With the programme just about to begin, I have many hopes and expectations.  I imagine I will be challenged every day in dealing with multiple facets of diversity and with achieving our ambitious goal in the short time we have.   Each person with whom I will be interacting (between our Ulysses team, the SELFINA management team and SELFINA's customers) brings a different and unique perspective to our efforts.  I expect to enhance my cultural dexterity and communication skills in this environment.  I also hope to bring back a much greater understanding of the every day challenges of the Tanzanian people and how we can contribute to enriching their lives. 

Having time to reflect on and visualize the type of leader I want to become in the slower-paced environment is quite important to me as well.”

Thank you Dyan. Watch this space for her update at the end of the project.

And while we’re waiting – consider what has made you feel proud, lately?

Cleo

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