My full name is actually Zacharoula, but when I was younger, my next-door neighbour decided Zac sounded much cooler and was easier to say - and it stuck. It’s a Greek name, and my parents came to Australia before I was born in the late 1960s. They were both children of farmers in Greece and neither went to high school, so they were adamant that my brother and I receive a good education. They saw it as the pathway to a better life and they worked incredibly hard to ensure we could go to university.
My parents valued public service and when I think about my career path, it was definitely their influence that led me to work in government in public policy development for over 10 years. When I announced to them I had a new job at PwC this was met by shock and disbelief. My Mum said, ‘you can’t work for a profit driven organisation!’. I explained that I believed my role at PwC would provide a more powerful way to influence policy reform to transform industries that I’m passionate about, particularly early childhood and education.
My work in reforming early childhood education and other social policy areas is a passion that has come from my parents and I’ve definitely changed their view of PwC! Our team has made fantastic progress over the past few years. I take the view that ‘from little things, big things grow’ and this is what happened with the Federal Department of Education and Training.
We started out doing a small piece of analysis for them about their funding arrangements for rural and remote early childhood services and then continued to connect, building the relationship and their appetite for the more significant reform they needed to pursue to make the arrangements more equitable and better linked to community circumstances.
We’re now working with them as part of a PwC and PwC Indigenous Consulting collaboration on three large projects to improve the funding arrangements for remote and indigenous early childhood services that we hope will have a significant and positive impact on children and, ultimately, society.
I have two children of my own, aged 12 and 9, and their education is very important to me. I was lucky enough to be able to access a high quality early learning and child care centre when the kids were younger, so I was able to come back to work and know that they were in a caring and stimulating environment. We need to make sure that early childhood education can do the same for the next generation.
Zac Hatzantonis is a Director at PwC based in the Economics and Policy practice in Melbourne. As leader of the national social policy group, she regularly assists Federal and State Government clients to assist them with business case development and complex program evaluations.
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