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If you could build up three of your professional skills, what would they be? Perhaps data analysis might land on that list, to help you prepare as positions are becoming increasingly more data-driven. Or, digital storytelling to stay current with the latest business technology innovations. Maybe even automation strategies to help condense repetitive and time consuming tasks.
But, what if we told you there’s an organization out there that can offer you the time and training you need to bring those answers to life? At PwC, approximately 2,000 employees have joined the Digital Accelerator program, an experience that equips them with data analysis, automation, artificial intelligence, and digital storytelling skills. Once employees have completed immersive digital training, they bring these skills back to their teams and clients to act as catalysts, capable of steering the organization to new heights.
As #AuditorProud day approaches, we are looking at how audits have changed and developed so rapidly in such a short amount of time. In this day and age, a successful audit professional will be highly proficient in wrangling and analyzing tech and data, visualizing data insights, and explaining what it all means.
Laura Martinez, PwC Partner and Assurance People Leader, touts the Digital Accelerator program’s efficiency, stating: “The firm is committed to investing in the digital upskilling of our people and leveraging technology and tools to provide a very different digital experience to our clients.
“The skills we’re investing in now to prepare our people are very valuable,” and infinite learning opportunities, such as the Digital Accelerator program, is part of the reason she’s continued to develop her career at the firm for over two decades.
In addition to the Digital Accelerator program, the firm launched a Digital Badge program. The badge program allows PwC professionals the opportunity to earn, apply and gain recognition for the knowledge and skills that our business demands, including digital acumen, data visualization, business analytics and artificial intelligence.
We spoke to Martinez about digital upskilling opportunities at the firm, the digital transformation taking place in the assurance practice and how she achieves success in her dual roles.
Tell us a bit about your current role at the firm. What are your priorities at work and what does a typical day entail?
I have two main roles: I am the Assurance People Leader and a client service partner. As the people leader, I manage a team of individuals who oversee talent acquisition, career development, performance development, compensation, talent management and all the things important to the people experience.
My role as an audit partner includes serving large financial service clients. On a typical day, I could be working with my team to brainstorm how to automate a functionality that we used to do manually. Or, I could be working with a client engagement team on a transactional issue on an audit.
What has been your career path with PwC and how has the firm supported your career growth?
I started with the firm as an intern in 1990, and have had a fairly traditional career path within our assurance practice and worked my way up to the positions I hold today. When I was a senior manager, I remember sitting down with a partner with whom I was close, and he asked me if I wanted to become a partner -- a thought that hadn’t occurred to me until then. That simple conversation really opened up the possibility for me, and helped me move forward on my career path with PwC.
What do you enjoy most about your current roles? And how do you balance both of them?
I deeply enjoy both roles and the opportunity I have to make a difference for other people in the firm and our clients. One of the things I love most about the people leader role is meeting and connecting with others and exploring ways we can innovate, challenge the status quo and do things differently.
Why is it an exciting time to be working in assurance?
It’s a very exciting time to be working in public accounting and in the assurance practice at PwC.
We’re in the midst of a very transformational digital period — lots of things are happening to impact scale, speed and technology of the audit.
How has technology and the firm’s digital transformation impacted the audit practice?
A plan to execute the audit continuously is in the works. PwC has invested in establishing a “Modern Auditor.” The insights and perspectives of a “Modern Auditor” from working with data, people, quantitative analytical skills, coupled with digital upskilling, will allow us to provide more value to our clients as audit professionals.
What skills are key to a successful career as an audit professional today?
Technical accounting skills and a focus on quality are key priorities, supported by analytical skills, critical thinking and data analysis. These skills are all highly valued at the firm, as are clear communication and thoughtful leadership. We want our people to continue to learn, ask thoughtful questions and discover more. Having an infinite learning mindset goes a long way.
What career advice would you provide a female professional exploring a career in/or currently working in assurance?
PwC is a great place to build a career and develop professional skills. I often leaned on my coaches and mentors for advice on how to navigate things, but I would call that out as something I consciously did — and continue to do — based on my goals to grow my career.
I encourage our staff to take advantage of opportunities that are available to help develop their personal brand and leadership skills, such as volunteering to be part of a planning committee and mentoring junior staff and interns.
Why are you #AuditorProud?
We are #AuditorProud to embrace, not fear, the continued maturation of technologies. Technology enhances the human elements of being an auditor -- the emotional intelligence, sound judgment, professional skepticism and experience of the “Modern Auditor”. These skills, when combined with the deep analysis completed by machines, allows today’s auditors to become even greater strategic thinkers.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Change is hard, change can be scary, but it’s not to be feared — especially at PwC. Taking advantage of things you’ve never done before and stepping into leadership roles can help to advance your career and open the door for even more opportunities.
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