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Digital innovation in the cloud made real on the ground.
Where human meets digital, PwC brings the two together, helping clients focus on the business outcomes they’re looking to deliver at the intersection of human and digital. Key to this delivery is recruiting the right people, into the right roles. “We don’t have enough hands in the market that can combine these skills together, and that’s also where we see the broader opportunity”, says Rohit (Ro) Antao, Partner Lead of Digital Innovation and Cloud Engineering and a member of Consulting’s leadership team at PwC Australia. Ro has been with the firm for over 15 years, and joined the team in Melbourne from PwC’s Silicon Valley office, where he was the firm’s US Cloud Transformation Leader and a member of the US Leadership Team.
As the operating model evolves from a more traditional approach, to one that meets the needs of tomorrow, the conversation on people has never been more important for PwC’s Consulting Business. This new, contemporary consulting model values diversity in digital. That means valuing more than ever the unique experiences, backgrounds, and specialisations required to create career pathways that may not even exist yet. Because of this, “finding the right talent can be hard”, says David McKeering, PwC’s Australia Consulting Leader and Australia South East Asia and New Zealand (ASEANZ) Consulting CEO. “But an opportunity exists for people to shape their careers, their way, to the benefit of both themselves, and the business. And that’s exciting”.
Solving for the consultancy of the future.
Leading this change is David. In early 2020, David stepped into the role and took the opportunity to pause and consider how, amid an unprecedented time for the world, to build on the success of PwC Consulting and create a future-focused business. “Our focus was on moving from a more traditional, to a more contemporary consulting business”, says David. “A business underpinned by a true digital and technology mindset”.
A community of over 1500 solvers.
PwC Australia's Consulting business is proud to bring together a community of over 1500 consulting solvers, delivering meaningful transformation at the intersection of human and digital. The team has almost doubled in the past two years, as demand for PwC’s expertise in areas such as Digital Innovation and Cloud Engineering has helped shape a more contemporary consultancy for clients and communities across Australia.
Confidence through change.
To enable this change, a clear transition for the team was needed, moving the community of solvers from a supply-side operating model organised around competency, to one more closely aligned to the industries they work with, and the client’s priorities within them. “In many ways our previous operating model was flipped on its head, to face this new future”, says David. By aligning through industry, the team would be able to better understand and deliver to demand, while gaining a more in-depth understanding of the capabilities and skills required to meet an uncertain future with greater confidence.
Leading by example.
Of course, like so many businesses, the pandemic amplified the actions required to do so, including those within PwC Australia’s own ways of work. “Everyone had to reset and think how we’d work in the future”, says David. That meant accurately understanding what was needed to support the team through these times by listening to and learning from each other. Not only did this focus on getting through the worst of the pandemic together, but collectively shaping the new ecosystem coming out of it.
Bringing the top of Cloud, down under.
Delivering the difference with human and digital.
For David and the leadership they took a close look at the current capabilities across PwC’s Consulting Business, as well as opportunities to invest in building deeper digital expertise as a community of solvers. “We have incredible people across the business and so by investing in and improving their digital capability, we gain best of both human and digital”, says David. “At PwC, it’s not one or the other, but both together, that delivers the difference”. That also meant finding the right alliances and partners to go to market with, as well as understanding what new capabilities would be needed within the firm, for the future, particularly through areas such as Digital Innovation and Cloud Engineering.
From the US to AUS, introducing Ro.
Leading the charge in this space is Ro. Writing his first software application at age 12, Ro jokes that he hasn’t stopped since. In the US, he was part of the CEO's leadership team where he was responsible for bringing a disruptive tech viewpoint to help shape the firm's portfolio, offerings, and investments. In addition, he also led the growth of PwC's Cloud Transformation business across all industries served by the firm.
Getting comfortable with Cloud.
“One thing we see on the horizon is that with the proliferation of Cloud, Cloud’s footprint becomes much broader for businesses”, says Ro. “What a lot of CIOs and CEOs start to see is that many of the mechanisms they had in place, such as governance and financial management, were very capital intensive from a technology perspective. However, the move to Cloud changes this”. Ro says this presents unique opportunities, but also challenges, particularly for the technology buyer. Acknowledging that one of the most important aspects is for business leaders to feel comfortable conversing about the potential of Cloud. “Both globally, but especially so in Australia, within 10 minutes of a conversation, often CEOs and board members will jump to the assertion that they’re ‘not technologists’”, says Ro. However, he believes strongly that, “to thrive in the digital era, business leaders do not have to turn into engineers, but must get comfortable with solving problems and pursuing business outcomes with technology”. The key is to help clients “cross the chasm and become comfortable in doing so”. Ro feels this is a challenge, but equally so, an exciting opportunity for Australia’s business leaders. It means extending and connecting the required business experience, to meet the engineering and technology expertise necessary to succeed.
Ro’s own career pathway saw him experience the dawn of Cloud inception and popularity in Silicon Valley. “We were in the early days of that mystery, starting to explore what this technology was”, says Ro. Through these early experiences, the opportunity in Cloud was clear, and this led to Ro being at the helm of PwC’s US Cloud business. “Back then the business was niche, with a focus on the high-tech and media industry”, says Ro. “But as Cloud services gained momentum, we began to expand across a number of different industries”. Over the past decade, Ro has spent time investing in digital innovation and Cloud engineering skills, both individually and across the organisation globally, as well as at an industry level too. Throughout this time, Ro’s focus has been on enabling businesses to truly understand and embrace Cloud. Helping them make calculated decisions that contextualise, differentiate, and carve out their own place in this space, including specific territories. The emphasis to date has been on bringing to market what businesses really need, individually, in order to transform through Cloud, according to the context and requirements of their business. Shaping digital transformation to a client’s specific strategic agenda, and solving problems in unexpected ways.
Bringing humanity and technology closer.
Ro’s presence in Australia provides a strong signal to the market of PwC’s focus locally, in building world-class Cloud-powered solutions for clients. The firm, David mentions, has a strong reputation for its role as a business integrator with strong business acumen, particularly through the strength of its accounting offering. Many competitors on the other hand, have focused on their technology offering, and at low-value, disregarding the importance of people. PwC however, have brought the two together, and closer. Providing clients with a high-level, integrated offering between business and technology.
The New Equation in Digital Innovation and Cloud Engineering.
At the heart of this conversation is The New Equation, PwC’s new positioning. The New Equation brings together the community of solvers required to build, earn and share trust in unexpected ways, delivering sustained outcomes for clients and communities alike. For PwC’s Consulting Business, that means playing a leading role in helping clients solve some of society’s most important problems today. Bringing together the teams and technology of tomorrow to create solutions at this meeting point of human and digital. Recognising that we need the right balance of both in order to succeed, “when we think about technology, we don’t think about it in terms of replacing what people do, but rather in augmenting and amplifying our abilities”, says Ro. PwC has been making significant investment and progress in this, to create a leading technology play for clients and communities, that’s powered by its people. “The result is that when technology, values, and business come together in the way we work with clients, amazing things happen”, says David.
PwC’s Australia Consulting Leader and Australia South East Asia and New Zealand (ASEANZ) Consulting CEO
Coming together in unexpected ways.
“Connected execution between human and digital, is about putting in place the operational foundations for our teams, technology, clients, and the communities they serve, then coming together as one integrated experience”, says Ro. It’s this mindset that allows different teams at PwC, from engineers to creatives, to problem solve together, despite having different expertise, experience, and schools of thought. “This is how we end up with solutions, like a chatbot on a website, for example, that not only solves a customer’s problem correctly, but understands when they’re disgruntled or require human assistance”, says Ro.
Approaching the next normal.
As a contemporary, sustainable consulting business, this strategy is taking place at PwC today, while the thinking around it is evolving continually to meet the needs of tomorrow. “The reality is, the world we’re living in at present through the pandemic is not sustainable for businesses, or the ecosystem in which they’re operating”, says David. “Clients are looking for consultants like PwC to provide them with confidence about what needs to change, and why, unlocking competitive advantage for sustained value creation through change”. What this means for clients, Ro says, is that “everything is being turned on its head, and it’s no longer just an optimisation game but an innovation game, and a growth game. It’s about exploring new avenues”.
The multidimensional perspective.
Being able to bring this multidimensional perspective, at the intersection of human and digital, is what’s delivering the difference for PwC’s clients through the pandemic. “This approach was important pre-pandemic, but it holds true now, more than ever before. We’re not going to get through this with technology or people alone, but both”, says Ro. “At PwC, over the years, we’ve built this approach into the fabric of how we operate”. Ro recognises that The New Equation is not a marketing statement, but rather, PwC’s way of making a meaningful difference for clients, through the connected structure of its teams. “We’re wired to operate this way, and that’s what separates us from our competitors”.
Delivering meaningful value for society.
The team recognises that means understanding the value a human brings, then digitising around this to drive further value for clients, and society. “For PwC, it’s about solving problems and creating solutions at this intersection of human and digital that drives meaningful impact and sustained outcomes for clients, and communities alike”, says David. That means solving through challenges such as post-pandemic mental health and wellbeing, indigenous reconciliation in collaboration with PwC’s Indigenous Consulting, delivering diversity in digital, and last value creation through ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance).
Recognising that the firm’s capability will really help clients make the required leap into this new way of building business, Ro suggests “all companies right now need to be rethinking how they engage with their customers, employees, and partners”. From a Digital Innovation and Cloud Engineering perspective, “that means bringing product thinking to problem solving”, says Ro. “There is a window of opportunity in this market now, and as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention”. Clients need this perspective to help them succeed in this climate”. Ro says clients are seeking contemporary technology solutions to solve through the challenges and opportunities before them.
Delivering trusted transformation through The New Equation.
From creating a more diverse culture in digital, to having a more collaborative rather than competitive internal climate across the firm—the team understands it’s these differences that help deliver sustained success and meaningful digital transformation for clients and communities alike, backed by trusted relationships at every level. PwC’s strength in solving for society is a strong indicator of this, developing human-led, technology solutions for clients across Australia, South East Asia, and New Zealand. Working hard behind the scenes—David, Ro and the team are excited to share the “amazing but understated” advances between people and technology from PwC, and that’s where the work of The New Equation is bringing these stories together, as the firm celebrates the unique ways in which it’s solving important problems facing society today.
PwC’s Australia Consulting Leader and Australia South East Asia and New Zealand (ASEANZ) Consulting CEO