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CIO50 2021 #18: Rebecca Thomas, PwC

  • Name Rebecca Thomas
  • Title Chief Information Officer
  • Company PwC
  • Commenced role August 2017
  • Reporting Line Partner in charge of transformation
  • Member of the Executive Team No
  • Technology Function 40-50 staff, five direct reports
  • PwC New Zealand chief information officer Rebecca Thomas says there has been “unprecedented change” in technology enablement at the organisation. 

    “We have implemented SaaS including Salesforce, Google Suite, Workday, Fraedom for expenses and others. We have upgraded personal hardware, mobile phones and laptops. All our laptops have data cards, all our staff have a choice of the latest iPhone or Samsung phone,” she says.

    “We have strengthened our resilience by moving all our compute power to dedicated datacentres and we have kept up a rigorous programme of cyber security upgrades. Our technology landscape enables our staff to be productive, mobile and incredibly resilient. This was proven through the COVID crisis when the business switched seamlessly to remote working,” she says.

    Auckland office move

    Between COVID lockdowns, PwC moved from Quay street to Commercial Bay in Auckland, with Thomas describing the new offices “an absolute technology dream”.

    “We have implemented several game changing technologies to enable a workplace experience that is delighting our staff and customers alike. We have state of the art video conferencing and audio-visual facilities, desk occupancy software and several other innovations. Putting them all together means we have now have data on our workplace that is enabling future decisions about property and the future of work – it’s a very exciting area,” she says.

    In a staff survey following the move ‘technology’ was highlighted as the most popular improvement – even more popular than the harbour views! Thomas says staff are structuring their day differently, taking advantage of flexibility policies and improving their work life balance, while still delivering to clients. 

    Tech lounge provides innovative tech support

    “The innovation I am most proud of is our Tech Lounge. This is a physical lounge located in an area of the building that is accessible to both staff and clients. Our staff on the Tech Lounge are amazing. Every day I get a comment from our clients or staff that the Tech Lounge makes their day. Many people drop by the Tech Lounge for a chat, a catch up and to get their equipment sorted. This is not at all like the stereotypical IT helpdesk in the “IT Guys” television series,” Thomas says.

    The technology team is seen as an embodiment of the PwC brand and at the last annual Partner Conference the New Zealand PwC the IT team were awarded the annual partner award for values. Thomas says this award has never been given to a non-partner before, let alone a team and “it underlines the regard, respect, and affection that the IT team are held in at PwC.”

    She cites the annual survey where two dramatic shifts have happened over the last three years that show the value of all that we have delivered. Three years ago, PwC staff were only 64% satisfied with their technology enablement, while in 2021 that is now 85%.

    “Our IT team three years ago had a staff satisfaction score of 52%, attrition was high, diversity was low. In 2021 our staff satisfaction score is 96%, we have a team of more than 40% women, from 15 nationalities, including 16% Pacifica and we have people in all stages of their career. We have committed to developing the industry in New Zealand and have more than a third of our team in the first five years of their career.It is such a delight to support young people in their careers. It is this diversity of gender, culture and career stage that has created the magic,” she says.

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