“Not even my family understands what my job is,” laughs Orla Fisher. “They know I’m qualified as a chartered accountant, but other than that, they’re not sure of the details.”

Certainly, as Deals Director at PwC, his role is unquestionably complex and fast-paced, involving large amounts of figures and data. However, speaking with her, what is perhaps most striking are her impressive human abilities.

As Orla explains, “Deals essentially helps people buy and sell companies. We guide them through the process and make sure that as much potential value is gained as possible, and likewise that they don’t lose any value in the process.” But in practice that means he can work closely with anyone, from a tech company in the Netherlands to a healthcare company in New York. Businesses can be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or multinational organizations.

“I know it sounds a bit cliché when someone says no two days are the same,” laughs Orla, “but if I’m helping a client buy or sell a business, it’s almost always in a different sector or industry. My work is very global, so you’re dealing with different cultures and mindsets, which makes it really interesting.”

Orla Fisher PwC
Photo: Melanie Mullan

As a result, “you have to adapt your approach to the people you’re dealing with, as well as different environments and cultures,” explains Orla. “Often it’s more about listening and less about talking. That’s how you learn more about someone’s business, but also about the people you’re dealing with.” She also points out that people are inherent in these kinds of arrangements. “Most of the time, the company’s management typically moves with it when it’s bought or sold. You’re not just buying companies, you’re buying people too. So people are such a big part of what we do.

Orla came to this role with a Bachelor of Commerce from UCD and a Masters of Accountancy from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and a graduate position in the Assurance Division at PwC. She joined Deals in 2007 and throughout her career she has looked for experiences that would enhance her professional experience as well as connect her with many different people.

She was a member of the Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society for around ten years and was one of the few women to hold the position of president. She now lectures for the Body’s Diploma in Corporate Finance and is incredibly passionate about imparting her knowledge to her.

“It’s a program designed for accountants and non-accountants, people of any age, working in a variety of industries, so you meet people from many backgrounds, which I absolutely love,” she says. It’s also something that keeps her busy and curious about her discipline. “Often it is the non-accountants who ask a question that makes me stop and think”.

PWC extension
Photo: Melanie Mullan

Orla also leads Irish recruitment for Deals internship and graduate programmes, so is constantly interacting with new hires at the start of their careers. “When I went from Assurance to Deals,” she says, “it was a steep learning curve, and part of the reason I got involved in recruitment, education and training, is because I was there myself and I love being in able to give someone else an edge, both in my organization and outside through my lessons.

She’s very candid that she’s still learning constantly herself, which is part of the appeal. “You’re learning from colleagues and your customers, and you’re learning about emerging technologies or business and revenue streams. You have constant exposure to financial, business and operational developments.

The technology has also dramatically changed work since it began, giving teams vastly greater amounts of data to analyze and factor into every transaction. “When I think about the amount of data we were getting 15 years ago, compared to what we are getting now, there is no comparison,” Orla explains, “so we put more emphasis on data and analytics, which has become a key part of our M&A offering.

It has also altered the way they work to some extent. In addition to the hybrid work option, Orla explains that he has helped reduce the overall amount of travel required. While the team will still visit companies around the world, previously these trips could last weeks, but now it’s possible to get a lot of work done without having to be in the same room. She hopes this development will attract more women into the industry.

“I love traveling a bit,” she says, “but now it’s a good balance. Not everyone wants to travel all the time: many of my colleagues have young children or care for elderly parents. It means more people can work in an area they love and not feel the need to leave because they can’t cope with everything else in their lives.”

Orla acknowledges that Deals has traditionally been quite male-dominated and says it took drive and determination to reach the high ground he has in his career. However, he is seeing more and more women working in the area and women who deserve a place at the table.

She also believes it was crucial for her to keep her personality to the fore. “It’s really important not to lose sight of who you are. In terms of me as an individual, as a woman, and as I, Orla Fisher, I bring a unique combination of skills and perspectives. She shows that, after all, it is the people within these companies, rather than the spreadsheets and numbers, who are at the heart of any business.

At PwC, they help close deals. Their multidisciplinary teams are technology-fueled and solutions-oriented. Whether it’s an acquisition, divestiture, fundraising or restructuring, they bring broad experience with a clear focus on realizing and protecting value, optimizing results regardless of the metric. To find out how they can help your business, visit pwc.ie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *