Two minutes with: Abby Laybourne CA, PwC Director

By Robert Outram

22 September 2015

Robert Outram interviews Abby Laybourne CA, Director, PWC, and Boccia enthusiast.

When did you qualify as a CA?

I qualified in 2004.

What is your career history?

A rollercoaster of opportunities – I've spent the past 14 or so years working across a range of large listed multinational organisations (predominantly retail and consumer), most of which have gone through significant change programmes. I've had the good fortune of spending six months in Berlin as part of PwC's global leadership development programme, working with colleagues from around the world and in different lines of service. I've been a people manager for more than 10 years, am involved in recruiting our graduates and lead our diversity efforts in the business unit in which I work.

What does your job involve?

Mostly managing people and teams, building strong working relationships, solving problems and seeing the bigger commercial picture. Importantly it's all about ensuring we provide a high-quality audit to help keep businesses safe (from a financial perspective).

Who do you report to?

Some truly inspirational partners.

What appealed about this career path?

If I'm honest I initially saw it as an extension of university with a fantastic qualification at the end. But it soon became about the variety of work, the people I interact with and the flexibility it brings, which is important to me being a working mum of two.

What's the best thing about your job?

The people both at PwC and at client companies. Doing the right thing.

…And the worst?

It can be emotionally exhausting… especially juggling work and home life.

Proudest moment so far?

Being told I am a role model and mentor by some of our younger female talent.

What's your next challenge?

Hopefully being promoted to partner.

How's your work/life balance?

Depends on the day/week/month. But overall good. I work four days a week and work flexibly to ensure I am home to put my boys to bed at night. In quieter periods I take long, relaxing holidays.

You are a board member of the GB Boccia federation – can you briefly explain what Boccia is and why you are an enthusiast?

Boccia is a Paralympic sport for athletes with severe impairments (typically cerebral palsy) and has no Olympic equivalent. It is a target ball sport similar in principle to bowls but it is played indoors with soft leather balls. It is a sport of intriguing tactics, incredible skill and nail-biting tension. Once you see it, you will be hooked. I got involved as I wanted to do something that gave back to the community, supported my passion for diversity and also gave me wider development opportunities in terms of board experience. Boccia is growing in popularity and Paralympic success – I'd like to continue to be a part of that.

How has your training as a CA helped you prepare for your role at the Federation – if it has?

It's given me both the financial skills the board needs as well as a strong network.

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

Be agile and open-minded – opportunities come in a variety of forms.


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