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Robert Coard

Forty Under 40 winner, 2019; Partner, PwC, Age 39
Chung Chow Photo

When PwC offered Robert Coard a career-advancing opportunity in London, England, he initially didn’t want to go, but gave in to the idea.

Two and a half years later, when he was offered a job that would bring him back to B.C., he didn’t want to leave.

“I really didn’t want to go overseas but I was really encouraged to do it,” he said of the offer to take the London job. “I had some really strong encouragement from one of my mentors at the firm.”

After high school, Coard worked full time during the day, selling cars with Carter Auto Group, while going to school at night to earn a bachelor of administration degree from Simon Fraser University.

After graduating in 2004, he went to work for PwC, where he earned his chartered accountant designation. In 2010, he took the London job. The first six months overseas were rough, he said.

“I was a kid from North Burnaby. I go over to London, I’m working with guys, and they’re all from Oxford and Cambridge – British blueblood. It was the first time I felt like a fish out of water.

“I got to work with some really world-class people and clients. I never expected that I would have been sitting in London next to a member of the Rothschild family working on financial things with them,” he said.

His clients in London included the Economist magazine and Wimbledon Championships organization.

When he was asked by the firm to return to Canada, he was reluctant to leave. But, again, based on advice from mentors, he returned to Canada, where he now has a wife and two young children, and one more on the way.

When PwC was looking to expand its satellite office in Surrey he was put in charge, and over the next three years he doubled the office’s head count and revenues. He was also responsible for introducing a new hiring model.

He worked with universities, industry organizations and other firms to change the recruitment model. The result is that it is now easier to recruit good prospects.

In 2015, Coard was made a partner.

Birthplace: Vancouver

Where you live now: Vancouver

Highest level of education: Bachelor of business administration, Simon Fraser University

Currently reading: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Currently listening to: “Nevermind” by Dennis Lloyd

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: I grew up watching detective shows, so I always wanted to be a police officer

Profession you would most like to try: Commercial pilot

Toughest business or professional decision: The decision to move back to Canada after working in the U.K. for a few years

Advice you would give the younger you: I had a mentor who encouraged me to do things earlier and sooner than I would otherwise have thought – taking the leap on things before you might be ready, getting out of the comfort zone before it’s too late. I sometimes wish I had known that earlier in my career and I may have tried new things sooner

What’s left to do: At some point, live and work abroad again, spend more time in the community giving back to those causes that need support the most, and mentor more young professionals as they start their careers

Join us to celebrate the 2019 Forty under 40 Awards on January 30, 2020, at the Westin Bayshore. For tickets and event information visit