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Andrew Cameron, Data and Analytics Lead Partner, PwC

Describe your career to date 

I began my career in the City in the late 1990s, trading equities for a start-up that was bought out by a US firm. More by luck than judgement, I got involved in a very early digital project to automate some front-office trading functions. I became fascinated by what tech could do, but realised the biggest challenge to our ambitions was getting the data right.

 

After this I moved to consulting and PwC, who had a very mature data team back in 2001. I helped write our first data governance methodology – I still have v1.0 at home – in 2002 and have spent the rest of my career working with clients to create value with and from their data assets. I’ve had the privilege of working with many iconic clients and some brilliant people over the years in many industries.

 

I left in 2008 and spent a number of years leading the UK data and analytics team at Capgemini, but returned to PwC in 2016 and am now privileged to be a leader of the data and analytics capability at the firm. 

 

It’s a great place for a data geek like me – we have remarkable access to our clients and, as a multidisciplinary firm, no shortage of very knowledgeable subject matter experts. Our ability to combine data and analytics capability with deep domain and industry expertise is, in my experience, unparalleled, and at the heart of the value we create for our clients. 

What key skills or attributes do you consider have contributed to your success in this role?

I’ve always been fascinated by data. My natural curiosity as to why data didn’t have the profile of people, process or tech in business led to a career looking for the answer. Persistence, sticking to my instincts and willingness to take a risks have helped. And I’m a people person before a data geek and I love building amazing, diverse teams.

 

What level of data maturity do you typically encounter across your client base and what tends to hold this back? 

It still varies widely but has progressed significantly in recent years. I’m delighted to see the growing professionalism of data and analytics and the networks and communities like DataIQ. I’m proud to have been a pioneer of data science apprenticeships way back in 2010 (I hope some of those people are reading this now) and helped bolster that community of specialists, some of those apprentices from back then are becoming true industry leaders now which is making a difference. 

 

Above all, data and analytics is a hot topic in the boardroom these days. PwC’s 2023 CEO survey saw data and analytics as the highest priority capability for investment in people and technology. At PwC’s non-exec director network, deep-dive sessions for board members on data and analytics and also cyber are by far our most oversubscribed topics. 

 

I think the most important maturity step I see my clients taking is building a strong link to business value of their data and analytics strategies, and describing the value and benefits in ways that the business can engage with. It really isn’t a technology problem at its heart, true maturity requires a significant set of cultural and behavioral mindset shifts across the enterprise.

What trends are you seeing in terms of the data and analytics resources your clients are demanding from you? 

As a multidisciplinary firm, demand is high for data and analytics technical specialists who also have good exposure to particular industry or domain use cases. The ability to articulate outcomes and value in business terms is very important. 

 

As you’d expect, PwC is often heavily engaged in the development of business cases, monetisation and value-add strategies fuelled by data. We certainly are seeing a growing demand for support from among execs and CDOs to put a true value marker down on the investments they are making, and valuation of data as an asset is a big topic in the deals market as well. 

 

The move to the cloud is another big driver, and the challenges inherent in moving data platforms from on-prem installations to the cloud is one many large organisations are facing into. 

 

Finally, we’re seeing an increasing focus on the legal and ethical implications of working with and leveraging data – especially as organisations are looking outside at opportunities to leverage and monetise data. 

 

What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your clients and on the industry as a whole? 

With the economic headwinds we see today, there’s plenty of scrutiny and belt-tightening when it comes to investment. While we know that boards see the potential in data and analytics to unlock value, actually being able to articulate this clearly in an investment case that stacks up against a range of competing priorities is often a challenge. The increasing cost of running the CDO office and the ongoing war for – and cost of – talent will drive some to look for alternative delivery models, increased automation and behavioural change. 

How are you developing the data literacy of a) your own organisation and b) your clients? 

We work very hard on this at PwC. Our recent digital accelerators programme provided a significant level of upskilling in the core data capabilities and opportunities. And, as you’d expect, topics such as data protection form a core part of our annual training round for all staff. 

 

We’re fortunate to have a strong network of executives and non-executives who attend regular ‘masterclass’ sessions. Data and analytics is one of the most oversubscribed and very popular to demystify the topic. 

 

Finally, we are seeing increasing emphasis in client projects placed on the behavioural and change aspects of data and analytics projects and have just appointed our first leader in this space. 

 

How are you tackling the challenge of attracting, nurturing and retaining talent? 

For a people-centric organisation this is the number one priority. We take our responsibilities to our employees seriously. We know people in this sector want to work on projects that are intellectually stimulating, have clear purpose and combine commercial and social value, leveraging the latest thinking and technology. 

 

We see technologists who want to be able to engage directly with business stakeholders and play a key role in the problem solving process. ‘Human-led, tech-powered’ is how we describe this. Fortunately, we have a brand, client relationships and projects which enable us to fulfill these commitments and we strive to work with clients who share our vision and ambition. 

Andrew Cameron
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2023 (EMEA)