PwC’s Mark Cornish CA on challenge and change

Mark Cornish
By Michael McGlinchey, CA Today

13 October 2015

Mark Cornish CA, newly appointed Risk Assurance partner at PwC in Philadelphia, says meeting the challenges and adapting to change are central to his career progression.

Mark Cornish CA, who has just been appointed as a Risk Assurance partner with PwC in Philadelphia, has a compelling story to tell.

For any CA starting out on their career journey - or seeking a change in direction - a look at Mark's CV (or resume in the US) provides an insight into the passport the qualification can offer.

At just 39, Scots-born Mark has already worked in a wide variety of areas - including financial statement audit, internal audit, risk and compliance, and third party reporting, - and has successfully made the transatlantic transition from the UK to the US business environment.

When talking to Mark, it is clear that adapting to challenge and change are things which have enabled him to progress successfully.

He said: "I like to challenge myself. The only way we can continue to develop ourselves is by taking on new challenges."

Mark Cornish and Family

Mark, from Busby, graduated with a BSc in Mathematics and Economics from the University of St Andrews in 1998, and qualified as a CPFA before becoming a CA.

He started his accountancy career with Deloitte and worked in public sector audit in Glasgow and Edinburgh before a year-long secondment to Britannic Assurance (now Phoenix Life).

After returning to Deloitte, where he undertook more public sector work and some work in the financial services sector, the opportunity to move to PwC in Boston arose, just as he qualified as a CA in 2004.

Stateside, he continued to diversify and broaden his skillset, where the switch was primarily to financial services and areas including IT audit and risk, primarily for the asset management and insurance industries, with one of the biggest areas being controls and attestation reporting on behalf of companies for their clients.

His work broadened even further during those eight years in Boston and this included his decision to work in a senior manager role on fund audits for a large asset management client, where he developed skills in delivering the audits and strengthening his understanding of the "user perspective" for the controls and attestation reporting he performs.

The reason I did the CA in the first place was to broaden my skillset. When I did the CPFA I was primarily focused on healthcare but then I did the CA to broaden my accounting and business knowledge

He said: "Interests evolve, opportunities arise and I've been very proactive in broadening my skillset and continuing the education.

"The personal development aspects have always been very important to me and I regularly challenge myself to say 'okay, what's the next thing I need to achieve'."

He takes this philosophy everywhere he goes and, in his new and "exciting" role as a partner at PwC, it is equally relevant.

He said: "Now, as a partner I have to think, 'what will benefit the firm, and what will benefit me from a career standpoint, personally and professionally'.

In keeping with his positive approach, Mark saw the "perfect opportunity" when the chance to move to Philadelphia came along two years ago. PwC was seeking someone with experience in asset management and third party assurance, and he again rose to the challenge, eventually progressing to partner in spring of this year.

For Mark, his proactive approach and his CA qualification are a perfect blend.

He said: "The reason I did the CA in the first place was to broaden my skillset. When I did the CPFA I was primarily focused on healthcare but then I did the CA to broaden my accounting and business knowledge, in areas including risk management, for example.

"A lot of the work I do currently is internal control, risk and compliance orientated but to do that effectively and be an expert in that area you really need to understand business operations, the accounting and finance impact, and the risk impact.

"The CA qualification provided the core foundation for that, especially as I transitioned into the US environment and it benefits you in many ways. You can use the qualification in so many ways and I'm a prime example."

Now settled in Philadelphia with his wife Claudia and daughters Natalia (6) and Carolina (4), Mark continues to be proactive in his spare time. He keeps his "football affiliations going' as a member of the board of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, the local Major League Soccer club's community organisation.

"This is another thing that is really important to me. It's really important to give something back," said Mark.

Main picture: Mark with his wife Claudia at the PwC new partner celebrations in May.

Inset picture: Mark and Claudia's daughters, six-year-old Natalia (left) and Carolina, aged four, pointing to his nameplate on the partner board at the PwC offices in Philadelphia.


  • Development of the profession
  • Audit and Assurance
  • CA life

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