Ivan Clark CA: lessons learned from 35 years in Brazil

Brazil night city lights
By CA Magazine

3 July 2018

Ivan Clark CA on the rewards of living in Brazil as a Partner with PwC.

When did you qualify as a CA and who did you train with?

I trained with Deloitte, Haskins and Sells in Edinburgh, qualified in 1982 and, in the same year, joined Price Waterhouse in Rio de Janeiro.

What have been the key points in your career?

For 15 years, I headed up the Capital Markets group in Brazil and throughout South America, with a seat on the global PwC Capital Markets Group board. Being well placed in this fast-moving market, we were able to participate in most of the IPOs of Brazilian companies in New York and accompany the Brazilian Stock Exchange in developing new governance standards which led to a boom in listings.

What does your job involve?

I am responsible for risk and quality in Brazil and Ecuador and am on the Board of the Brazilian firm. I am retiring in July and moving to London to serve Brazilian companies in the UK, British companies seeking post-Brexit opportunities in Brazil and to serve in a iNED capacity.

What appealed about this career path?

Guiding the firm through turbulent waters requires a level of scepticism and business acumen to be able to mitigate reputational risk and promote quality. A healthy professional practice cannot survive and grow without an effective “risk and quality” function.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The satisfaction, through hindsight, of having made the right decisions.

…And the worst?

Easy decisions, driven by a propensity to say “no”, can stifle the firm’s ability to provide constructive professional solutions in a challenging environment. Achieving an acceptable balance of risk requires an acute decision-making process, which can make for uncomfortable relationships.

Proudest moment so far?

Achievements in the IPO capital markets, promoting the junior markets and contributing to the overall development of the economy and GDP growth were particularly rewarding.

What’s great about living in Brazil? What’s challenging?

It’s a fabulous country with limitless opportunities for the adventurous traveller. Brazil is also a fantastic business school. Most professionals who come here from abroad leave with new skills and an unparalleled competitive advantage which serves them well back home. An emerging country, with growing pains, makes for a roller coaster ride. Surviving it is a challenge and a learning experience.

How’s your work/life balance?

Brazilians enjoy their vacation time and the generous number of local holidays throughout the year. Working hard (the professional working day can be long) and playing hard (planning is a must) have their rewards.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy travelling throughout the country with the family – the wonderful beaches in the north-east (a well-kept secret), the Amazon rainforest (covering 30% of the country) and Pantanal wetlands (the size of France) provide great getaways.

How has your training as a CA helped prepare you for this role?

The CA training provides a broad learning platform upon which the professional can build his/her career and take command of his/her destiny. The sky’s the limit.

What single piece of advice would you give for a CA looking to pursue this career route?

The world is your oyster – be bold. Break out of your comfort zone. Learn a new language and share your professional expertise.

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