Tuesday Transformation - Corey Sobers-Smith
Who is Corey Sobers-Smith?
I’m the kind of person that likes to “shine from the background”. It might sound contradictory, but it will start to make sense as I explain more. I’m the quiet type; I like to keep my distance and usually prefer cool, chill scenes. Yet I know how to put myself out there, and express myself when I need to. I like to call it being ‘selectively social’, as my good friends know I can be anything but dull. I also like to plan ahead to make my ambitions and goals a reality. Just because I am quiet doesn’t mean that I am keeping quiet. All in all, I suppose it’s true what they say about the silent types.
What does your day to day entail?
My full-time job is never standard; something new or different (but still familiar) happens daily. I sit within a department that operates in the Caribbean region as an extended arm of the client-facing Audit and Advisory staff at PwC. Our aim is to support the teams in maintaining optimal risk management practices, and also helping staff to maintain quality standards within their client service, engagement documentation and office conduct. A broad job description like that carries many facets which are divided amongst a team of 15. Generally, I prepare and review periodic quality controls, help perform ad hoc compliance reviews for Audit and Advisory engagements, assist in maintaining and updating regional methodology, answer methodology and technology queries posed by staff, and perform a variety of monitoring activities which assist with pinpointing any inconsistencies and executing trend analyses.
How did your interest in Risk & Quality Management develop?
Through experience: undoubtedly one of the most invaluable personal assets any professional can ask for. I run the risk of a cliché response but it’s what tied everything together for me! Of course, the path never starts with experience; you first need that interest to commence your journey. From what I can remember, even though it didn’t click back then, being in a primary school classroom taking in what teachers were sharing daily had to have imparted much more than the answer to 2 + 2 because some days, I was going back over materials I learned the same day by writing on the blackboard after class as I waited for my grandparents to pick me up. However, the interest to teach didn’t exactly register then.
I juggled between computers, chemistry, music, mathematics and for a short time, even goalkeeping in football, but leading up to university, my original passion to help others and impart knowledge streamed into offering lessons to friends, which even helped me to better understand the content I was learning as well. Teaching always prevailed in a way; however, being good with numbers since secondary school was undeniable and the accounting track became a priority as opposed to a diploma in teaching (also, trust and believe like in any Caribbean home, my father made that choice clear for me by informing me, “Teachers doan get treat good - try and stick wid de numbers boy!”
Being mindful of my father’s words and fighting for the education my grandmother invested in me brought me into the auditing field with PwC for 7+ years following university. Over such time, without any planning, I discovered further strengths and opportunity in advising others in work-related matters and championing the audit technology we use. It seemed the untapped desire to teach from primary school days naturally transitioned into my current career even though I did not take a direct teaching path. The way I honestly feel about it now, my experiences shaped the path I feel practically destined to be taking. Whatever is meant for you will come!
What do you love most about this industry?
Working in risk & quality management is always exciting; from working with unique client circumstances to focusing on audit trends and behaviours, which are highly influenced by changes in standards at the international level and even global factors like COVID-19. The work is never dull! The job definitely keeps you on your toes and I would say being able to adapt quickly is a key asset.
How would you advise a budding professional to enter the field?
Start the good fight from the classroom: physical, virtual or own self-learning. I’m not saying this for the sole purpose of getting the highest qualifications to get the attention of employers. Great grades help but they are certainly not the only factor an employer will consider. I think if you push yourself generally in class, and try to do extracurriculars, you become more well-rounded and you really feel the purpose of the fight. That fight helps to build your personal brand that sets you apart from other candidates.
My path is particularly specialized; that is, it’s not a typical risk management position. My combined auditing experience and my unique skills brought me into my role. However, any good career goal has to start somewhere. I’d research and plan ahead for where you could see yourself shine and prosper. It took me a while to connect to my hidden childhood passion, but maybe not for you readers. If you know your genuine passions, nurture them.
After finishing UWI, I personally started with reaching for my professional accounting designation (the current popular ones are ACCA and CPA Canada) followed by my MBA in Strategic Management. Whatever qualification and job opportunities you believe is a good start for you, aim for them. A lot of the qualifications out there are accessible virtually now more than ever. Research what you think your potential path is, then take it and keep up the good fight to follow that path through.
Tell us your most memorable achievement to date.
Honestly, I make the most of all my successes and progressions: big or small. They’re all equally special and memorable. If I had to reply based on the first thing that comes to mind, it would be the opportunity I had been extended by PwC to join the Risk and Quality team, working across our Caribbean region network of firms.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I also tutor part-time at UWI Cave Hill, offering students assistance with intermediate and advanced-level Accounting courses and also give sessions on financial literacy best practices. Also, a few random facts: I enjoy still-life photography, can sing well, and am one of those travel-happy persons they say you should check up on every now and then: thanks to COVID-19, we aren’t coping well at all!!!