Analysis: Over 40% of PwC Australia staff now work in tech

11 April 2023 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read
Profile

Having built its brand as one of the world’s biggest accounting and advisory firms, PwC has evolved to such an extent in recent years that now more than two in every five of its Australian employees work in tech.

The Australian branch of professional services firm PwC has turned the microscope on itself to examine the changing face of its business, finding a remarkable 291 percent rise in its number of tech-related workers in just a little over four years.

Of the firm’s 10,600-strong local headcount (up 28 percent in the same period), this equates to more than 40 percent of its staff now working in tech-related roles, up from just 13 percent at the end of 2018.

Role-based breakdown of PwC's headcount in Australia

A member of the so-called ‘Big Four’ accounting and audit firms, PwC has been riding a global digital transformation and consulting boom. Looking closely at its local employment figures shows that around a quarter of its consulting roles in December 2018 – or a shade over 600 out of 2,360 employees – could at the time be considered tech-related. That figure now stands at 80 percent of all consulting positions, with an overall team of 2,785 tech consultants.

“Demand for technology services is skyrocketing in Australia, in both the public and private sectors, which is prompting our firm to accelerate investments in and create contemporary tech-driven roles,” commented Rohit Antao, PwC Australia’s Cloud & Digital business leader. “This is fundamentally being driven by the need to digitise to drive economic growth, improve customer outcomes, and make businesses more globally competitive.”

Antao adds that the firm doesn’t envisage the trend slowing, and so will continue to up-skill its people in cyber, cloud and digital. But it’s not just up-skilling, the firm has clearly embarked on a significant tech recruitment drive over the past year or two, both at the entry-level and among senior ranks.

Bucking the current trend of job cuts among peers, PwC even appears to be accelerating its hiring, particularly as to its Skilled Service Hub in Adelaide.

First announced in mid-2021 with the promise of 300 new jobs over the coming eighteen month, PwC’s Skilled Service Hub surpassed that target within a year, and by some 50 percent, before promptly revising its numbers upwards to 2,000 new jobs within five years from launch. PwC expects to be half way there by the middle of next year. Notably, the average age at the hub sits at well below 30, while more than a quarter overall have relocated to the state.

Antao makes this point as well, the firm’s shift toward digital also serves to attract and retain talent, and that extends to the senior ranks. Natalie Mitchell, former AWS head of strategic enterprise; Nikhil de Silva, who rejoined the firm after stints at Sayers and AWS; and platform engineering lead Matt Cudworth, who crossed from a cloud CTO role at DXC, provide just a small sample of those to have recently joined PwC’s partnership in tech leadership roles.

While the firm has exploded in the number of its cybersecurity professionals, there has also been many new functions added since 2018, including, as to consulting, data and platform engineering and product innovation. In terms of ‘enabling functions’, a staffing category which has also more than doubled to over 40 percent as a ratio of tech-related workers despite an overall reduction in numbers, the inclusion of a Chief Data Officer is the most telling.

Revenues

A more simplistic, but ultimately primary measure of the evolution of PwC over the past five years is to look at the firm’s revenue breakdown. While detailed statistics for the firm’s Australian practice are generally difficult to access, at the global level Assurance still ruled supreme in 2018, contributing around $17 billion of the firm’s around $41 billion take at the time.

Driven by digital transformation services, the Advisory segment had already just about overtaken Assurance just three years later.

In its last financial year PwC cracked the $50 billion revenue mark. With 24 percent growth, Advisory contributed more than half of that figure, easily eclipsing Assurance by almost $3 billion. From the horse’s mouth: “This growth has been driven by strong demand for technology-enabled business transformation, both enterprise-wide and within specific business functions – including helping many clients migrate to cloud environments.”