Interview: PA Consulting, UK IT Industry Awards finalist

'We believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future'

clock • 4 min read
Karen Byer, Lead Project Manager, PA Consulting
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Karen Byer, Lead Project Manager, PA Consulting

Information technology is a vital part of modern businesses today, helping all corporate sectors to achieve goals, generate revenue, and reduce inefficiencies.

The UK IT Industry Awards are the largest and most well-known event in the technology industry calendar. Owned and operated by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Computing, the awards enjoy a level of professionalism and industry knowledge not seen at other shows.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Wednesday 8th November in London.

PA Consulting, this year, is a finalist in three categories: Rising Star of the Year; Security Professional of the Year; and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader of the Year.

We caught up with Karen Byer, Lead Project Manager at PA Consulting, to find out what makes her company different from other technology companies and what are they working on this year.

Karen Byer has worked as a Project Manager for over 20 years. Her "strengths of organising people, creating plans, and bringing concepts to life" has meant she was "destined to be a project manager".

"I set out to make the complex understood and for people to recognise the value they can add," Karen says.

"Here at PA, I am fortunate to be able to follow my passion for Inclusion and Diversity issues in my capacity as the UK Chair of the RISE employee network. I am involved in sharing people's lived experiences, developing safe spaces, and creating plans to effect strategic change."

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers.

Karen Byer: We believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future. As strategies, technologies, and innovation collide, we create opportunity from complexity. Our diverse teams of experts combine innovative thinking and breakthrough technologies to progress further, faster. Our clients adapt and transform, and together we achieve enduring results. We are over 4,000 strategists, innovators, designers, consultants, digital experts, scientists, engineers, and technologists. And we have deep expertise in consumer and manufacturing, defence and security, energy and utilities, financial services, government and public services, health and life sciences, and transport. Our teams operate globally from offices across the US, UK, Ireland, Nordics, and Netherlands.

What makes you different from other companies?

We're the only company to deliver end-to-end innovation, not just talk about it, but really do it. This is evidenced through multiple 'world-firsts' and other breakthrough moments in the 80 years we've been helping our organisations to go further, faster - from the first ever disposable pregnancy test to the world's first intelligent pay phone; a pioneering IED detection device; the first smart metering rollout; breakthrough, life-saving medtech; and leading the UX development for Europe's largest Sitecore implementation for a Tier 1 bank. Amid complex challenges, we bring the experience, culture, and unique capabilities to turn innovation into a reality for our clients, and give our time and expertise to serve our communities.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

PA migrated to a new HR system across the firm in nine months, which really showed the enthusiasm, commitment, and support given across all levels of management for this project. We were working with a new partner who followed an expedited implementation approach that required a coordinated team effort across our functions. Not only did we deliver a HR system that utilised self-service functionality, the ability to facilitate continuous 360-degree feedback, and support customised learning, but the migration project showcased the expertise of our people and their determination to get the job done. With the new HR system in place, we are exploiting this opportunity to promote the completion of ethnic diversity data across the firm. We already have made great strides in data collection for gender but now want to extend this to develop a truly comprehensive diversity dashboard.

What are you working on this year?

I am involved in the rollout of AI capabilities within the firm. This is such an exciting space to be in right now, and I get to take part in our pilot to get first-hand experience of what could potentially be a firm-wide initiative. We want to understand the capabilities and identify opportunities to provide an offering to our clients. In addition, in the Inclusion and Diversity space, we have recently established some faith-specific community groups, including the PA Jewish group and PA Hindu group. We are in the process of launching a further two communities this year that provide a safe space and an opportunity for colleagues to learn and embrace what makes us different yet unites us.

Why are events like the UK IT Awards important to the IT industry?

It is a real opportunity to see the great achievements being made in the industry at firm and individual level whilst also renewing the enthusiasm to do and be more. I am really pleased to see some new categories added such as the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader of the Year as IT touches on so many aspects of the world we live in today so to see this being acknowledged is fantastic.

The UK IT Industry Awards will take place on 8th November in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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