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Photo courtesy of Sasha dos Santos
“The business community is now confronted with the problem it has feared for years: many people do not have the digital skills needed to perform the work of the future,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “And with the unprecedented pace of technological advancement across industries, the future is upon us now.”
As a top professional services network of firms — and one that just had its biggest year of growth, at that — leaders of the PwC network see the stakes of this technical gap not in a way that’s removed and impersonal, but as something they have a real ability to impact.
“As a global organization, we have a responsibility to help people adapt to the future, not just at PwC, but in the communities in which we live and work,” said Bob Moritz, Global Chairman at PwC. “How do we keep up with the skill sets required to create and use these new technologies to their full advantage? How do we upskill our people to harness innovation in new and different ways?”
The firms in the PwC Network’s immediate answer to this lies within its landmark initiative, New World. New Skills.: A $3 billion commitment to continue digitally upskilling talent on a global scale. PwC firms’ 276,000 people are slated to benefit from this initiative. The investment, which was announced on October 1, 2019, focuses on digitally upskilling PwC people, developing digital training tools and upskilling the communities PwC firms operate within. PwC US is investing in technologies supporting their clients and communities to help make the world a more capable and inclusive place.
To get a sense of the digital transformation that’s already occurring, we spoke with Sasha dos Santos, a senior manager in PwC US’s Assurance practice. We asked her about the ways the firm supports her development as a technologist and helps prepare her for continued success in an increasingly digital future. Here’s what she had to say.
As a Software Engineer, why did you choose PwC?
I joined the firm in 2016 as a senior associate in the Assurance Innovation & Technology team, where we worked to automate and implement workflows of manual tasks. The work my team performed helped in reducing the hours of manual work and notable cost savings. Since then, I have been promoted twice and currently act as a development lead on a team of 15 people. What I really appreciate about my team is having the freedom to choose our technology stack and build technology solutions from scratch.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy working with the Assurance team to translate requirements into actionable items for the developers. I work with my Product Owner, Business Analyst, Scrum Master and other development leads to confirm that we have thought through the business problems, defined our requirements, and have some sense of the technical design required to implement a solution.
Can you please share what your day-to-day looks like?
No two days are the same; each day goes by very quickly! At the firm, we use Agile as our software development methodology. We start each day with a daily standup moderated by the Scrum Master; as is typical, each developer discusses what was worked on yesterday, what will be worked on today and highlights any impediments. The rest of the day varies depending on where we are in the sprint. For example, the day may consist of attending sprint planning (once every two weeks), backlog grooming (twice a week) and bug triaging (once a week). I spend a lot of my time interfacing with other internal development teams and helping to design solutions. I also carve out time to assist the developers with any issues they may have, as well as to work on code reviews.
What type of projects do you have the opportunity to contribute to and is there much variety in the type of work you perform?
My career with PwC has been focused on the development of internal solutions versus those that are externally client-facing. The emphasis is to help transform the way our professionals perform their day-to-day responsibilities through innovative software development. The first project I worked on for the Assurance practice is now being used in other areas across the firm, such as the Tax practice. What started as a focused solution for a specific problem has become a platform for the extraction of data. Since April 2019, I shifted focus to work on a PwC Labs project that acts as a portal for a larger data platform that the firm is currently developing. There are many different projects available. If I ever get to a point where I feel I’m no longer growing, I know I can reach out and express my willingness to work on something new.
How has the firm contributed to your personal and professional development?
PwC has supported my development in three major ways.
I’ve been able to attend professional conferences in my area of interest (front-end development).
The firm supports career development, and provides a Development Team which includes a career coach and a relationship leader — people who I can reach out to for help with my career and development through the PwC Professional framework. Likewise, I coach more junior developers on the team.
I’ve been given the opportunity to network with other people throughout the firm, which can take place in the office, at conferences, and at recruiting events and social events.
Please share a project or initiative you're proud of working on at PwC.
I’m very proud of my involvement in a product that automates the extraction of important data from unstructured data sets. This task was previously completed manually and would take a large number of hours for large datasets. Now, that same individual can simply review the results of the algorithm. This was the very first project that was completed by my team that resulted in resource and time savings for the firm.
Can you share an example of how you have been able to bring your whole self to work at PwC?
PwC has been accommodating by providing me the flexibility with how and where I work, allowing me to decide how I can effectively accomplish my tasks and responsibilities. At PwC, we use a hoteling system to reserve desk and office space, which allows me to decide what makes sense for a particular day. I may want to sit next to a certain developer or within a certain team one day and with a different set of people the next. It’s all about flexibility.
What advice would you have for someone joining PwC in a technologist role?
I would recommend being aware of the changing technology landscape; even if your current project doesn’t use a particular piece of technology, it’s important to know what is out there. At PwC, there are new projects, and it’s important to be aware of what is happening in the world of technology and how it may relate to the problems the firm is trying to solve.
I appreciate working at PwC. It provides you the ability to grow your career at a firm that allows you the flexibility to work on a variety of projects and presents opportunities to interface with people from around the world.
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