An unexpected career in Data Assurance

Former Chemical Biologist and current Data Assurance Manager, Nicola Vinson, on how STEM studies can set an unexpected career trajectory.

Growing up Nicola Vinson had her sights set on becoming a Volcanologist, and whilst she thinks that’d still be a “pretty epic job” when it came time to go to uni she selected a course in Chemical Biology. After she took the “obvious next step” of pursuing work experience in the field of research, she realised it wasn’t the area she wanted to forge her career in after all. 

“I did a year industry experience in Singapore with GlaxoSmithKline, where I was involved in early stage drug discovery for neurodegenerative disease… I decided I didn’t want to go into research, and started looking at alternative career paths.”

Leveraging her science degree and passion for learning, Nicola made the leap into the innovative world of data and has never looked back! She took on multiple data driven roles within the tech industry, before joining us as a Manager in Data Assurance. But, what exactly is a ‘data driven’ role? And, where do they fit in with a Professional Services firm?

Data roles can encompass anything from “supporting audits through analytical production apps”, to “working with the Payroll Consulting team to create tools that assist companies in ensuring their employees are paid correctly”, and beyond.

Bringing the work to life is a team of people who hold a unique flare for harnessing advanced analytics and data to solve complex problems for both our clients and broader society. It’s this passion to make “a positive impact” combined with logical problem solving, says Nicola, that makes for a valued member of their team.

“We all take a logical approach to solving problems, are inquisitive and love working with data, and we’re all keen to learn new skills and try new things, be it a data visualisation tool or a new approach to tackling a recurring problem.”

More than working with information and technology, the majority of the projects undertaken by Data Assurance are also client-facing. This means the team are regularly present to see the meaningful impact their work is actually having.  

“In most, if not all, cases I see a wider impact on society. It could be through testing that a client’s payees are receiving the correct amount of superannuation, or through a regulatory response ensuring banks are taking sufficient steps to appropriately lend to their customers.’

Intricacies aside, for Nicola, it boils down to a genuine love for what she does that has her motivated and excited to turn up to work each day.
“For want of a better term, I’m a bit of a geek at heart and love playing around with data. I get the opportunity to live that out at PwC through working with data every day and using it to solve problems and drive outcomes...”
“...And it’s not just with clients, but also internally through developing tools that visualize data to make it more accessible and straightforward to interpret and interrogate, and through sharing knowledge I’ve learnt with others.”

Find out more about PwC’s focus on STEM here.

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