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Career profile: David Lurie, business psychologist, PwC

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Get to know your peers in the global HR community through our career profile series. Today, we talk to David Lurie, business psychologist at PwC. He shares his career journey, what skills are vital for his role and living out his childhood dream.

Basic details

Name: David Lurie

Job: Business psychologist

Current employer: PwC

CV in brief:

  • PwC, business psychologist, July 2014 – present
  • PwC, talent management consultant (senior associate), 2012-2014
  • PwC, general consultant (associate), 2010-2012
  • BAE systems, project manager and communications coordinator, 2008-2010

A day in your life

Tell us about your job and organisation

PwC has 185,000 staff worldwide, of which about 10% are based in the UK. I lead PwC’s behavioural science community; a group of 300 people across the globe with an interest or qualification in a related subject (e.g. psychology, behavioural economics). My absolute passion is psychometric testing, so I do a lot of research and practice around this.

I sit within our consulting business department, and my role involves delivering talent management consultancy to a wide range of clients, although I predominately work with banks and the NHS.

Who do you report into?

I have a people manager, who is responsible for the performance management process, and I also have a group leader, who is in a pastoral care role. I’ll then be allocated different senior managers specific to the projects I’m working on. Plus, I have a number of partners that I report into on internal initiatives too. It’s a highly matrixed organisation.

Tell us about your team

My area of business is called ‘people services’. There’s about 400 of us, including partners and directors, who offer a full range of people related solutions – ranging from data analytics and pensions advice, through to board coaching and communications support. The behavioural science community sits underneath this, providing research-led input into our work.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Making a difference to people. My role involves training or coaching clients, or managing junior employees on projects, I’m in a position to see the ‘before’ and ‘after’, watching people go through their development journeys. It’s incredibly energising.

What is the most challenging part of the role?

I’m constantly learning in my role and it’s always being stretched. This is very much ‘challenging’ in a good sense.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Very different from the day before! I have an unusual amount of variety and autonomy in my role, so as long as I get things done by the deadline, it’s largely up to me what order I do things. Each day is unique.

Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?

PwC is one of the most successful and respected organisations in the world for its professional services, so I was drawn in by that. Now however, I stay because of the culture and the relationships I’ve built with my clients and colleagues.

Perks and downsides of your role?

Perks – The people, the responsibility, the variety, the training opportunities, the travel… and that’s just scratching the surface.

Downsides – No matter which of our offices I work from, I still have to take the Northern line in the morning. I really don’t like the Northern line.

What skills are essential for the role you’re in?

It’s vital to be able to engage with people and show a genuine interest in understanding what’s going on. While there are lots of skills that make a successful consultant, I really think it’s the ability to build relationships that leads to success.

Career path

How did you get to where you are now?

I had a long-standing dream of becoming a psychologist, but took a slightly convoluted route to it via a drama and music degree, and two years in defence. Once I joined PwC, I started studying part-time and have never looked back.

What were your best subjects in school? What and where did you study?

My best subjects at A-level were maths and psychology. I went on to study drama and music in Belfast, and now in the middle of my four-and-a-halfth degree (MSc Occupational Psychology).

What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?

I started as a project management graduate at BAE Systems working on the UK’s nuclear submarine programme. I got it by the typical graduate route of applying, doing tests and assessment centres. I accepted the job because it looked like fun.

Have you followed the career path you set out to?

No, but I’ve returned to my childhood dream.

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

It takes seven years to retrain as a psychologist part-time. Studying while working in a consulting environment is not easy, but I get a lot of support from colleagues, friends and family. I’m planning on starting a DOccPsych in 12 months, and that will be my biggest challenge to date.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Presenting to over 100 ambassadorial delegations at Farnborough International Airshow in 2010. It was amazing, but frankly, I’m proud everyday of the work that I do.

Do you have any career regrets?

Not really, I prefer to look forward than look back.

What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?

Don’t be afraid to join the organisation you want to – even if it’s at a lower level or lower salary than you’d planned – you can’t put a price on work satisfaction (and the enjoyment will help you catch up).

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

It’s OK to be ‘you’.

Either/or

  • Coffee or tea? I love both!
  • Jam or marmalade? Jam, I’m not a big orange fan
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Neither… I have an abiding passion for anything that Ben Folds has ever done
  • Mac or PC? Mac – I just like the way my many Apple products all work together without any issues!
  • The Guardian or The Times? The Guardian. I used to write for their website
  • BBC or ITV? BBC (it’s all about iPlayer Radio).

Favourites

  • App: IBM To Do, because it keeps my to-do lists synchronised on my iPhone, iPad and laptop. I would not be remotely organised or productive without it
  • TV show: Chuck, although it finished a few years ago
  • Band: Ben Folds
  • Song: Good Riddance by Green Day – not necessarily my absolute favourite, but it’s always been in my top 5, ever since I first heard it.
  • Book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. If you have the slightest interest in fantasy, it’s the best book you will ever read
  • Sports team: I have very little interest in sports, for which I am judged by my South African father and girlfriend!
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: Drinks after work, perhaps dinner. Thursday night is the new Friday night for me
  • Place to eat: Very tough, as I’m a foodie. My last great meal I had was a few days ago at Hixter Bankside
  • Holiday spot: Malta, I went there recently with my girlfriend
  • Piece of advice you’ve been given: My grandfather used to say that you should make the most of the brief moments of perfection that life gives you, as they are few and far between.
Sarah Clark

By Sarah Clark

Changeboard

Online features editor at Changeboard

Changeboard

Changeboard

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