Working in unexpected places

Meet Dan Meara. Dan is an Associate at PwC, within the Digital Trust Team of Assurance. Recently, we sat down with Dan to chat about his career with PwC to date - and boy has he been to some incredible places!

Technology is at the centre of business and Australia

Dan’s typical role involves fieldwork and reporting. He describes his role as one that ‘helps businesses improve operations, and to identify and/or fix issues that relate to or involve information technology’.

Whilst Dan’s role sits within PwC’s Assurance Business, he’s definitely not your typical accountant. Dan studied a bachelor of Commerce with a double major in Information Systems and Accounting, and it was his technology background that is now helping him solve important business problems for his clients.

There is a common misconception that Assurance = accounting. In some instances, that’s absolutely correct, but with the way we do business changing, and technology advancing, the concept of Assurance has made leaps and bounds in terms of what its professionals can offer clients.

“If I started a conversation saying I am an accountant, people would think I do tax returns, journals or financial auditing, and that's not the case. The guts of what I do is assess business risks that arise from the use of different technologies.”

To give you more insight into the work being performed for clients of our Assurance business, Dan’s recent engagement took him to the Red Centre, highlighting the inevitable technology revolution that has, and will continue to, transform the way organisations operate.

“We were engaged by a client that operates in the electricity generation industry. Operational technology has changed significantly over the years. What was once a big red or green button that started and stopped turbines back in the 60’s, has changed to being a computer with software that talks to the turbine instead..”

What may seem like a simple technological improvement actually brings about a serious threat to companies that operate their processes remotely by computers and the internet.

“This posed the problem of exposing the client’s power station to potential viruses, hackers and other cyber threats that could basically shut down the turbines for extended periods, or otherwise damage them. These are threats that weren’t present in the industry before, but now, it’s something our clients are having to prioritise’.”

Like all projects, Dan learnt a lot during his time in Uluru, particularly about how the emergence of new technology in business has created many challenges that traditional business models simply cannot accommodate.

"The biggest take away was developing my understanding of the accountability and governance that sits behind how technology is managed."

“The biggest take away was developing my understanding of the accountability and governance that sits behind how technology is managed. Traditionally speaking, on one hand you have a computer network that is used to send emails or place purchase orders - these processes are managed by the Chief Information Officer (CIO). On the other hand, the computer that reports machine stats or operates equipment are ultimately managed by the Chief Operations Officer (COO).”

“So who is responsible for information security then? Is it the CIO or the COO? You could have two separate sets of computers, infrastructure and information security staff - the problem with this is that it adds costs, and means that both departments will have different processes when it comes to information security. Who has control and who is held accountable in the event that things go wrong?  Surely it would be more economical and easier to manager both of these networks as one. This is where we come in, to help our clients work through these complex business issues.”

Dan’s extraordinary experience in Uluru helps to shed light on the complexities of the vast and ever expanding Assurance business and their capabilities at PwC.

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