Colin Hehir talks about what he enjoys most about his role in risk assurance and how technology has changed the risk and finance sectors.
Having graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in financial mathematics from the University of Limerick, Colin Hehir now works as an associate in the risk assurance solutions practice in PwC.
In his role, he helps provide insight and recommendations to clients based on analysis and assessments of data, business processes and information technology infrastructure. Hehir is also pursuing a master’s degree in computing at Dublin City University (DCU).
‘How we solve problems today has changed hugely compared to a few years ago’
– COLIN HEHIR
If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?
The great thing about working at PwC is that you work with different clients and on various projects, so no two jobs are the same and you have great variety.
Like many people, I’ve mostly been working remotely since Covid-19 hit back in March 2020. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of collaboration and virtual meetings and coffees with clients and colleagues. However, I do look forward to getting back to some form of new normal and some face-to-face interaction
A typical day might entail assisting and consulting with clients in addressing IT risk management to analyse and investigate a company’s data infrastructure, IT controls and processes. This, in turn, is to ensure data integrity and that the data used in financial reporting is accurately processed and reliable.
PwC’s huge investment in digital has meant that we can deliver client projects remotely and quickly using our data analytics tools. A lot of my day is spent also working in teams collaborating together to work out solutions for clients. I also work on proposals for new work as well as coaching junior members of my team.
PwC has also sponsored my master’s in computing at DCU and has been really flexible in allowing time off to attend lectures. PwC’s training and exam preparation is second to none – you are well-prepared and they ensure that you have the best chance of doing really well in your exams.
What skills do you use on a daily basis?
Specifically to the role, I use analytical and problem-solving skills as well as deep technical skills. More generally, the ability to multitask is critical when working in a dynamic and changing environment.
Also, communicating with clients in both a technical and non-technical way is important to ensure a full understanding of the recommendations made. Lastly, teamwork and project management skills are also used daily to meet requirements and client expectations.
What is the hardest part of your working day?
During busy periods, prioritising tasks can be a challenge, but there is always support and help within the team to help complete those tasks on time or help others do the same. Having an idea of what tasks need to be done in the morning and others that may pop up during the day is helpful for scheduling and that the most critical assignments can be dealt with promptly.
Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?
Giving yourself occasional breaks throughout the day allows you to recharge and become more productive at work while setting time aside to exercise or go outside for a walk helps with motivation and energy.
The ‘everyday flexibility’ initiative at PwC is excellent in that if you have any appointments or hobbies, you can tailor your day to suit those. I have used this at times by either starting work earlier or working through lunch to finish my day earlier to go to any extracurricular commitments I have.
Making a to-do list or a set of deadlines to complete tasks helps me stay focused and stick to my work schedule. Also, I find keeping distractions around you to a minimum helps you keep your concentration and become more productive.
When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?
What has surprised me the most about the role is PwC’s commitment to be a digitally enabled firm to deliver a differentiated experience to clients and the market, investing in the development of the workforce in the training of analytic process automation tools like Alteryx, data visualisation in Tableau, and UiPath to enable robotic process automation to make our day-to-day tasks more valuable and efficient.
As a result, I have begun to apply them to create workable solutions for clients. Being innovative and coming up with new ways to do things or complete tasks in a more efficient way is encouraged and, as a result, you can become skilled in a particular area very quickly.
How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?
The big change over the last year and a half has been working remotely. Moreover, technology is changing fast and how we solve problems today has changed hugely compared to a few years ago and is set to continue changing. Automation and data analytics will make a huge difference in what we can do and the speed in how we can deliver.
Also, risk management is becoming more critical due to the increase in risks including cyberthreats and the extraordinary surge of innovation and cost reduction sweeping the financial services sector from the emergence of new technology and regulations.
Blockchain, fintech, robotic process automation, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and cloud computing are just a few of the latest technologies anticipated and, in some areas, have already begun to alter the financial services sector and have a significant effect on companies of all sizes around the world.
Moreover, as technology changes multiple industry sectors and alters the risk environment, organisations must adapt their information technology risk management framework dynamically.
As a result, the role has included more responsibilities performing reviews covering information and cybersecurity, IT governance and compliance, emerging technology risks, business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning, business intelligence and alignment of IT to business strategy.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
I enjoy understanding different business environments since they are more complex and connected than ever before. I enjoy advising clients and making a difference by using diagnostic techniques, helping solve their complex problems.
Working for PwC is an excellent springboard for your career. The main focus is your development, and I liked that you get to work with clients from the beginning, offering your unique viewpoint and making an impact. Continued learning is provided to help you advance personally and professionally while you have the opportunity to also learn from subject matter experts.
Once Covid-19 passes, I look forward again to enjoying the many extra-curricular groups at PwC such as running and cycling as well as five-a-side soccer. Also, PwC offers a 3pm finish on a bank holiday Monday and summer Fridays. Having a gym on-site in our Dublin office that is open 24/7 is also really handy and is back open now.