Being a tech specialist doesn't mean sitting in a basement coding all day.

After a PhD in theoretical particle physics, Cathy Wilks says her senior manager role at PwC offers the perfect blend of technical and interpersonal challenges.

Tell us about your role

I’m a Senior Manager in our Data Assurance team at PwC. There’s no normal day, which is what I love about my role. I’m out with clients the majority of the time, understanding their challenges and creating innovative ways in which data can be used to solve them. I also manage engagements that we are currently delivering, and provide coaching and mentoring to team members.

What made you want to work in technology?

I did a PhD in Theoretical Particle Physics and enjoyed the problem-solving and logical thought required, but didn’t feel there was enough tangible benefit or interaction with people for me to be satisfied. A career in technology gave me the perfect blend of technical and interpersonal challenges.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s difficult to choose just one thing. I really enjoy leading our team, seeing them develop and thrive. I also enjoy finding the right technical solution to solve a client’s issue, and seeing the positive changes in their business as a result of our support.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Having the time to be able to stay sufficiently up to date with the current technology trends. Technology is changing at such a rapid pace and we need to make sure we are aware of the latest developments and advances to give the best advice to our clients. That’s almost a full time job in itself!

How do you stay up to date with new trends and technologies?

Social media is a great way to keep up to date with new technologies. By following people that work in a similar field, you can see what articles they are sharing, giving you a flavour of what’s hot at the moment. In addition there are several tech sites that I receive regular newsletters and thought leader content from which are really helpful. Finally, you can’t beat the power of your own network and the insights that you can gain from informal conversations.

What have you achieved at PwC that you are most proud of?

Being regarded as a woman in technology leader, and achieving career progression in an industry which is arguably still male dominated. At times this has not been easy, which is why I try my best to support other women who are facing similar challenges. I mentor other women in technology and have set up “lean in” support circles in PwC and in Manchester.

Have you got involved in any tech initiatives at PwC?

There are so many initiatives I have had the privilege to be involved with. One of the most enjoyable was filming a vlog at the Science Museum for the Our Lives in Data exhibition. In addition, I have been involved in a lot of women in tech events, which are really rewarding.

What surprised you most about your role at PwC?

It’s what often surprises people joining PwC - that we are a group of supportive people that love to work in teams and get the best from each other.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about working in technology?

For me, the biggest misconception about working in technology is that you have to be a deep technical specialist that enjoys sitting in a basement in a hoodie coding all day. That puts a lot of women off and simply isn’t true. I am not the most technical individual but I have the right blend of technical and interpersonal skills that our clients are looking for.

What advice would you give women trying to pursue a career in tech?

It’s all about confidence. If you’re interested in technology and are hard working, then you’re likely to succeed, so get yourself some solid work experience and a strong support network of mentors, champions and peers to help you along.

PwC careers in Technology - Data and Analytics - Cathy

Cathy gives insight to her career in Data and Analytics at PwC. Watch this short video to hear the importance of human insight in technology, what excites her most about her career, and her proudest achievement.


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