Some of the world’s biggest consultancy firms are household names, PwC among them. But do you have any idea what a consultant actually does?
Here, Robert Byrne, director with PwC technology consulting, gives us a rundown of a day in his job.
What is your role within PwC?
Director within the technology consulting team.
If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?
Part of what I love about my job is that no two days are the same. That being said, a ‘regular’ day always involves a combination of project delivery work, business development activities to secure new projects, meeting new or potential clients, and managing activities associated with running and growing the technology team – currently at 45 people – such as recruitment and resource management.
What types of project do you work on?
The official title is ‘CIO advisory services’. In plain English, this means helping PwC’s clients understand, run and improve their IT services to ensure they serve the needs of the wider organisation. At a practical level, this often involves projects in areas such as IT organisation design, technology strategy, IT outsourcing, IT project management and IT function transformation.
What skills do you use on a daily basis?
For client work, a combination of technical knowledge, commercial awareness and softer skills is required:
- Technical skills to understand the IT aspects of the problem, and to be able to implement relevant, current solutions.
- Commercial knowledge to understand the business context of the organisation, and to ensure that the IT solutions that we deliver align with the wider business aims of the organisation.
- People skills to listen to the people impacted by the problems PwC are helping to solve, and to ensure that the solutions we implement address their needs.
In all aspects of the job, the ability to listen properly and ask good questions is always essential.
What is the hardest part of your working day?
Delivering on multiple objectives to the required levels of quality while maintaining a work-life balance is difficult.
Specific to IT, there is an ever-growing range of technology areas that clients are interested in. The need to stay on top of technical developments and have a point of view on how they impact PwC’s clients has never been greater.
Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?
Use technology – phones, tablets, collaboration tools etc – to minimise time wastage and get the most out of your working day.
When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?
What has most surprised me is the level of challenge that our clients at PwC want – and expect – us to provide to them. Robust challenge to established thinking regarding the business problem to be solved – or the solution to address the problem – is often where we provide most value. In many cases, the end result provided to the client is not what was originally sought, but is the right solution.
How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?
IT has definitely ‘come in from the cold’ in recent years. Senior management and board members are far more IT savvy than ever before. Technology is recognised as an agent of disruption and also as an enabler of wider business objectives.
With the prevalence of cloud-based solutions, and the opportunities and challenges presented through a range of digital technologies, customers of our services often extend beyond the traditional sphere of IT. In addition to working with CIOs, buyers of our services can also originate from different functions within an organisation, such as finance, operations, marketing etc.
Our role has changed in that we now serve a more diverse group of customers. These customers are highly informed and ambitious regarding how best to use the range of powerful technology services at their disposal for business benefit.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
The variety of challenges that I face from one week to the next, and the fact that you never stop learning. This job provides a fantastic opportunity to work with and learn from some really smart people. I always try to take the most that I can from each project, client meeting etc.