PwC installs its first Chief Data Officer: Sunil Patel

15 April 2021 2 min. read
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Signalling the growing strategic importance of data, accounting and consulting giant PwC has created a new role in its Board – Chief Data Officer.

Appointed as PwC’s first Chief Data Officer is Sunil Patel, a London-based partner at the firm. He brings over three decades of consulting experience to the role, gained at the intersection of management consulting and technology.

“Data is intrinsic in everything we do, and using it responsibly is essential to making informed business decisions and creating more value for our clients,” said Patel. “The use of technology in its various forms is accelerating, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. Data is crucially at the heart of all of this.”

Sunil Patel, Chief Data Officer, PwC

Indeed, according to a recent survey, data-driven working is now one of the top strategic priorities for organisations across the UK, and as a result, more than 80% of business leaders expect to increase their spending on data science and data management. While data spans a range of wide-ranging segments, spending on the advanced analytics segment alone is estimated to top £25 billion this year.

Patel has been tasked with developing PwC’s overall vision and strategy for the use of data, both internally and externally.

On his prior area of focus, he said, “Building a data-driven culture and increasing data literacy for all of our staff is key to the growth of our business.”

To this end, he will now lead PwC’s digital upskilling programme which will equip 22,000 staff across the UK with the digital skills required for the future.

Supported by a newly formed Data Office, Patel will also assess how PwC can boost its service offerings through the use of data, across the firm’s business lines of audit, advisory and financial advisory.

Patel has been with the Big Four firm since 2010, having previously served Atos Consulting for three years (responsible for the Public Sector business) and Accenture for seventeen years (latterly as leader of the Government Health practice).

Before taking up the new role, Patel was Chief Operating Officer for PwC UK’s Technology and Investments group where he focused on building PwC’s capabilities in emerging technologies. Earlier, he was the Clients & Markets Leader for PwC’s Consulting wing.