Paula Loop, who travels around the world to recruit talent for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, told Lehigh business students that the most important quality they can possess—the one that turns a great career into a phenomenal career—is having an opportunistic mindset.
“This means taking advantage of every possible opportunity that comes your way, every single day,” said Loop, PwC’s U.S. and Global Talent Leader. “Say ‘yes’ more than you say ‘no.’ Try different things and get out of your comfort zone. That attitude creates the kind of career that will set the world on fire.”
In a presentation at Rauch Business Center this week sponsored by Lehigh’s accounting department and the Office of the Dean of the College of Business and Economics, Loop offered advice to students about how to prepare for the world of business, how to set themselves apart from their peers around the globe, and how to apply their passions to today’s employment market.
Loop talked about the qualities students should bring to the table when beginning their careers. The first is a solid foundation of technical expertise.
“Whether it’s accounting, economics, finance or engineering, you need those fundamentals,” Loop said. “You can’t lose that core bedrock of your skill. That’s your personal brand, what sets you apart.”
The second is a set of strong communication and project management skills.
“You need to be able to lead teams, to understand team dynamics, and to give honest feedback,” Loop said. “There’s a lot of virtual communication today, but you still need face-to-face interaction.”
‘Your career is a journey’
Lehigh has strong ties with PwC, and recently was the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Corporate Award given by Lehigh as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The Big Four accounting firm was recognized for its longtime commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Other employees of PwC took time to share their insights during Loop’s appearance.
“When you go into your first job, you have to have an eager, open attitude,” said Karen L. Stuckey ’75, a partner at PwC. “Don’t complain about having to work this weekend or having to travel—look at everything as a great opportunity.”
Loop also talked about the lifecycle of a career, touching on her more than 20 years of experience at PwC.
“Your career is a journey,” Loop said. “Don’t sweat the small stuff—because there’s going to be a lot of small stuff.”
Following Loop’s presentation, students had an opportunity to ask questions and have a discussion with Loop and other PwC partners. One student asked whether Loop would change anything about her career.
“I would’ve lived overseas,” Loop said. “I give that advice to my children—go live in another country. Go live it, go breathe it, as soon as you can. It’s such an eye-opening experience.”
Paul R. Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics, also stressed the importance of having a global focus.
“Before graduating from Lehigh, I want each of you to have an international mindset,” Brown said. “International consciousness is at the heart of a successful career in today’s global marketplace.”
Photos by Christa Neu