Friday, February 19, 2010

Professional Profile: Candice Furman - PricewaterhouseCoopers

Candice is a recent graduate that is currently employed as a Knowledge Management Operations Specialist at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Toronto. In this position, she is responsible for three main areas: taxonomy and control vocabulary, search engine content, and metrics analysis. Her primary responsibility, which involves all these facets, is helping to manage the company’s intranet site and its searching function. Her regular functions include providing information architecture on the intranet portal, and various projects regarding the search functions when they arise. The controlled vocabulary aspect of her position is ongoing, and includes adding new terms or removing old terms based on the requests of her clients. Candice’s position is very specialized, as she is the only performing this function in all of Canada. Furthermore, Candice is also currently part of an international PwC team that is implementing a new search engine for use on their intranet.

Describe your educational background.
Candice completed an undergraduate degree in philosophy and political science at the University of Windsor. Her experience working libraries before entering the program was restricted to a single summer position, but it was enough to let her know it was a possible career choice. She always loved books, and chose Information Studies over a possible career in law. Candice decided to attend Western because of the co-op program and the opportunities it presented.

Describe your first job as a librarian or information professional etc. and subsequent career path.
Candice got her start working in knowledge management through her co-op at Western. When she started there was a large cohort, and therefore she applied to a lot of different placements to keep her options open. She applied to 12 and was interviewed by 11, mostly government and private companies. This was how she got started at PwC. In her co-op, Candice was responsible for content management for the portal, which included a lot of meta-data maintenance. She held this position for 8 months, at which point she went back to finish her degree while staying their part-time and working remotely. When her degree was complete, by chance someone was leaving the company. She applied for the job position and was hired upon graduation.

How did your information training and background prepare you for the job you now have?
The position that Candice currently holds includes a mixture of duties that required specific skills she learned in school and some that did not. The metrics analysis involved in her position involved on the job training since it is not a typical library position, and she never took courses in controlled vocabulary and taxonomy. There were, however, many courses that helped prepare her for the role she has today. These include enterprise content management, web usability, and web design. Although she does not create them, Candice also said that the database design course was incredibly useful since it gave her an understanding of how the databases she utilized are running in the background. The co-op was also helpful, as it allowed her to be comfortable with the firm before working there full time. Most of her training and preparation, however, came from her experiences at the job.

What advice would you give someone who is currently doing his or her Master in Information?
“Use your networks as much as you can” is the advice that Candice gave as the most important. Her supervisor was very helpful in advancing her career in these early stages, and she advices that the people you know are very useful when you are staring out in the workforce. She also gives the advice that it is good to try different things while you are in school, and not to limit yourself to the one stream that you may be following. Restricting yourself at the early stages of your career can be limiting.

Any general advice for new information professionals?
“Take everything as learning opportunities”, Candice says. Large companies like PwC have a big knowledge management community, and it is important to take advantage of opportunities like it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to call people and ask for help. Finally, when looking for a place to work, the most important aspect you can search for is a good organizational culture. Finding good people to work with is essential, and it can help improve jobs that may otherwise be less then exciting entry level positions.