5 Dumbest Reasons People Were Fired from PwC

Michael Stephens by Michael Stephens Last modified on May 24, 2017
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Reason #1: Stealing printer ink and selling it on eBay

We’ll start with the most ballsy effort. When I had just started my career at the Big 4 there was a quiet kid who one day got called into a partners office right by me, had a severe dressing down and was then escorted out of the office in tears.

No one had a clue what had happened, but it was obviously fairly bad. It turned out that the kid had a scam worked out whereby he’d tour the office picking up printer ink cartridges from the stationary cupboards and then list them for sale on eBay. He’d been doing it for a good few months apparently.

This wasn’t the best bit though. When the ink cartridges sold on eBay, he would take them from his stash and mail them from the work mail room. Yep, he was shipping out the stolen goods from the exact place he’d stolen them from. He was only caught when one of the facilities staff noticed a leaking envelope.

I don’t know what he was thinking, but you’ve got to give him credit for trying!

Reason #2: Taking questionable photographs on work cell

A work phone is for calling clients, A work phone is for storing your boarding pass for a work flight. A work phone is NOT for taking photos of your girlfriend. A work phone is DEFINITELY NOT for taking certain types of photos of your girlfriend and then leaving said photos on the main screen while unlocked in full view of a group of senior partners.

That guy amazingly wasn’t fired right away, but he didn’t last much longer. I think he died of embarrassment when the IT department sent an email to the entire office reminding them of the work phone policy, including “no use for personal or inappropriate photography.”

Reason #3: Sending the right instant message to the wrong person

Instant messenger is an amazing invention. It means you don’t have to get out of your seat for the entire day. And if you’re a manager you can boss around our team while you “review” Youtube videos.

It is also a recipe for disaster.

It is VERY common to accidentally message the wrong person. Particularly when you are intently thinking about them. I even did it once. When I was a consultant I accidentally messaged the manager sitting near me and said “[manager] sounds so annoying on the phone”. I was horrified when I noticed. Luckily she took it with good grace and we laughed about it!

What isn’t a good approach, however, is doing the same thing to a partner. A particularly bad approach is messaging a partner with detailed reasoning about why you hate them. It doesn’t go down well.

Reason #4: Facebook

Facebook is 10 years old. Crazy, right? What’s even more crazy is that people so often forget that everyone can see what they are posting.

Going on vacation? Great! Good for you. Going on vacation and skipping work? Questionable. Going on vacation and posting loads of photos with the comment “Can’t believe I am supposed to be in work! Sun is fun.” Sun is fun? That made me laugh. What also made me laugh was the fact that 90% of our office was friends on Facebook with this person.

One performance review later and they were no longer there.

Reason #5: Client Love

Now this one is more of a warning. Love is great, we all agree with that. So is client independence, that’s also great (in a less romantic, more corruption-busting way). Unfortunately those two things can’t go together.

What happens when two consultants hit it off and get together and eventually get married? That’s fine. What happens when one of the consultants leaves the Big 4 and later in life becomes CFO of the largest audit client for the office in which the other consultant is on partner track? Bad things happen, that’s what. Regulators get involved, it’s not pretty. Luckily in this case marriage was stronger than career and the partner-track half moved on.

So when you’ve been working 80 hours a week and you have an eye for the new consultant, just ask yourself whether you want to become partner one day!


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