Open Panel with PwC: Q&A with a Professional and a Student

Whether you are just beginning your college experience or reaching the end, networking and working through failure are both important aspects of building yourself up as a leader. NAAAP’s “Open Panel with PwC” event was centered around practicing good interview techniques and what to expect as a professional. The panel was composed of Julian Pasley-Smith, manager of the Enterprise Systems Solutions at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Thompson Nguyen, Temple’s own Fox School of Business student who has a variety of internship experience. Being able to hear both a student’s and professional’s perspective gave us great insight as to how to succeed.


How can you do well in interviews?

Julian: Make sure to make yourself stand out against other people who are also being interviewed. You can do some very simple, yet effective things to do so. Have good interview basics: Dress well for the occasion. Put your student persona aside, dress as a professional and make sure to let the positivity in your personality shine through. We can always train you from a technical view, but we can’t teach you soft skills. When I bring you to meet clients, I need to know that you will promote a positive image of the company.

Julian told us about how he spent a whole day interviewing people and it was the last session of the day. There were two candidates left that he had to interview. One was a intelligent man but Julian didn’t give him an offer.  By the time the last person came in, he was exhausted. However, two minutes in and he fell in love with her positivity and enthusiasm. At the end of work day, you’re going to need this because you’re exhausted and you need someone to pick you up. She now works for the firm.

Thompson: Do your research for the company you want to work with. Know the current news and updates. Listen to what the employers have to say, and understand what they’re actually telling you rather than just shooting questions and not taking anything in.

How do you gauge if you’re doing well in an interview?

Thompson: If you’re able to turn the interview into a conversation between yourself and the interviewer rather than the interviewer just going down a list of questions. It’s always good to see that the interview can continue freely and a conversation naturally develops.

Thompson Nguyen


Thompson told us about an interview he had with PwC last year. His interviewer became interested in Thompson’s story about his data analytics competition. It went so well, that they went 40 minutes past the scheduled time. Thompson got the offer an hour or so afterwards. The bad signs are if the interviewer seems disinterested and is just running down a list of questions.

How do you distinguish yourself from other candidates who have done the same research as you and are applying for the same position?

Thompson: Be more personable. In order to differentiate yourself from other people networking with the same companies, make sure to gauge your conversation. Try to get to know your interviewers and get them to talk about themselves. Know who you are and your passions will show.

Julian: Enthusiasm. Show enthusiasm for the firm you’re talking to. It ties in with how you present yourself. If you’re working for something you’re passionate about, it’ll show in your work and employers will take notice.

What kind of questions should you ask the interviewer?

Julian: You should always ask a question. It’s a good rule of thumb to not ask about salary in the first interview. Make sure to ask questions about any opportunities or unique programs that they have within the company.
 Show you’ve done your homework.

Networking & Work

How can you get better at networking?

Julian says that he got his job through a partner who is now in charge of the team he’s working in. He worked with this partner before when he was working as an individual rather than for a big company.

Julian: Be true to yourself but adapt to where you’re aiming for. Find common themes within the company to connect on. Keep contact with people on airplanes – present yourself in such a way that people you meet will want to connect with you again. Get in through professional networking and stay in contact through emails and small meet-ups. Get on LinkedIn, it’s an easy way to connect with people and you’ll be updated with them. Use the LinkedIn messaging system. I sent a CEO an email and got a response that said he was at a stage of turbulence. The fact that I was able to get an immediate response from a CEO, a person who is near the top of the corporate ladder, shows how effective LinkedIn is.

How do you keep track of business cards?

Thompson: Make sure to write briefly about a point you both (you and the employer) went over and put it in a spreadsheet to display when you talked i.e. what event, where you had the discussion, and what you talked about.

Julian: Just try to keep them in a safe place and make sure to contact them within 24 hours if you are serious about working with them in the future or you’ll never do it after.

How can you do well within the work field?

Julian: Make relationships with people within the firm and start building connections again. Networking inside the company you work for is almost as important as when you networked outside of it. Another tip is to find yourself a mentor and to keep up to date with what is happening in the industry. Taking initiative helps to develop those leadership skills to see what opportunities are available. Put yourself out of your comfort zone. You can do a lot to help yourself become a leader. You don’t have to become the #1 leader in the world.

Julian Pasley-Smith

Leadership & Failure

How do you build your leadership?

Julian: One that’s overlooked is finding yourself a mentor. Find more than one; someone who has experience and someone to bounce ideas off of. Also, readingstaying up to date with what’s going on in your industry and knowing how to talk about it. Have people aware that you know these things – it’s building your brand.

Thompson: Put yourself out there and take initiative. NAAAP is a good place; become an officer. I was always shy and scared of taking initiative. You have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I joined ASCEND and then become an officer.Take it step by step; Become a leader to those of your club.

How can you come back from failure in an interview/ job offer?

Julian: Failure isn’t always a bad thing. If you look at the successful people in life, they’ve failed more than they’ve succeeded. One of the best things to do is ask for feedback. When you ask why you were not offered the job or why the interview did not go as well as you hoped, it shows that you care enough to do better, and you can learn from your mistakes.


After the panel, members were free to speak to both panelists and learn more about excelling as a student in order to make the journey into the professional world easier.


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