Vanessa Banh

University of Sydney
University of Technology Sydney
Vanessa Banh studied a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney graduating in 2012 and a Master of Information Technology at University of Technology Sydney graduating in 2016.

What's your name and job title? What did you study? When did you graduate?

My name is Vanessa Banh and I am an associate at PwC. I graduated from a Master of Information Technology at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 2016 and a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney in 2012.

Can you tell us about your education and career?

I grew up in Sydney and completed my HSC at Hurlstone Agricultural High School. I started my career in pharmacy but after completing my studies and a one year internship to become a registered pharmacist, I decided to change careers. I became a registered pharmacist in early 2014 and very shortly afterwards, started my Master of Information Technology at UTS.

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?

I started at PwC as a graduate and took part in the one year Graduate Program for technology consulting. My current role is an associate in technology consulting and I have now been at PwC for almost a year and a half.

How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?

I chose IT because I knew there were many different areas you could explore and when I started my IT degree I didn’t have a clear idea of exactly what I wanted to specialise in. After each semester, having studied something different, I would change my mind about what I wanted to pursue. To help me make my choice, I also did internships at J.P. Morgan and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

What I learnt about myself after my studies and work experiences was I loved to learn and try new things. I enjoyed the challenge of picking up something I had never done before and becoming skilled in that area. I decided that technology consulting with PwC would provide me with the variety and challenges to help me thrive.

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

There were two stages in the interview process: a case study interview and a general one. The case study interview was a mock case study that is similar to the types of projects or problems a consultant would solve. I was asked to provide a solution and highlight any risks or issues. The general interview was more of a casual ‘get to know you’ interview where the interviewer asked questions about my experiences, what I liked to do outside work, and what interested me in a career at PwC. In the end, it was actually the interviews which helped me choose PwC over my other offers. I was interviewed by a director and senior manager who I could really see myself working with so decided to join the team at PwC!

Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills it would beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?

I would advise them to study what they love and to pursue their passions. PwC does not hire based on what you study but looks at everything that makes up a candidate. Soft skills and previous work experience is really important but it can be in any area and doesn’t have to be with a large company. PwC looks for diverse experiences in their candidates because we want to be able to bring a fresh perspective to drive out of the box thinking. This means any experience you have is valuable so take some time to reflect on what you learnt from that experience and don’t discount it if it isn’t directly related to what you’re applying for.

What does your employer do?

PwC is a professional services firm and we aim to build trust in society and solve important problems. We help our clients achieve their vision and goals through different ways which could be by giving strategic advice or expertise to implement a new system.

What are your areas of responsibility?

My areas of responsibility change depending on the project and team. I have worked as a business analyst, data analyst, and test analyst for different types of projects.

Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?

My typical work day changes depending on the client and project. I am currently working as a test analyst for a large government organisation to ensure the system functions correctly and we are able to deliver a high quality product.

What sort of person succeeds in your career?

A person who is confident, shows a willingness to learn and is able to persevere when things don’t go as planned.

What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?

Your career is what you make it and it varies for each person. You could decide to specialise in a type of technology, go on to take up management roles, or even second to a different business unit or country.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Definitely! I started my career as a pharmacist and I now work with people from all sorts of backgrounds such as those who have studied law, aeronautical engineering etc. The important thing is a ‘can do’ attitude and a willingness to learn to be able to succeed.

What do you love the most about your job?

What I love most about my job is how I am able to experience different roles, projects, clients and industries. In doing so, I have been able to meet and work with all sorts of amazing people and have had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from them.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are the stress levels high?

The biggest limitation of my job (which could also be a benefit) is that you are sometimes required to travel for a project. Every person on a project bears a lot of responsibility as we work as a team to achieve the same outcome. At times, we may be required to work on weekends and stress levels might be high especially around project go-lives. PwC has a flexible work policy and takes an outcome based approach to how we work. This means although at times we may be required to do extra hours, there are times where I may have something personal to attend to but as long as I am achieving the outcomes required then that is all that matters.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?

I’d probably still be working as a pharmacist

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  1. Always give it a go even if it sounds scary and you don’t think you can do it. You might just surprise yourself!
  2. Have a plan. Really think about where you want to be and think about the things that will help you get there. Don’t give up even if things don’t go according to plan (they almost never will), just keep trying and adjust your plan on the way!
  3. Take a risk. If I hadn’t taken the risk of changing careers then I would not be where I am today. People will tell you not to do it but they are not the ones who will live the choice. Believe in yourself and do what you think is right.