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PwC’s CIO on the power of collaboration

Brian Watson | May 4, 2016
Sigal Zarmi’s experience leading a pan-European system rollout taught her valuable lessons in building consensus, working through cultural differences and implementing the right change-management policies.

Zarmi is a big fan of cloud- and SaaS-based services, because of the simplicity they offer. To use those tools, you get a license and get started — in many cases, there’s no need for an IT leader to initiate a big change-management process. 

The European listing system project was far more complicated. In addition to navigating cultural differences and a broad geographic scope, Zarmi and her team also had to ensure that employees across the various countries used the system the same way, which meant that the change-management process would be crucial. Throw in the overlay of processes and behaviors, and that’s where it gets complex. The technology, as Zarmi says, was not the challenge.  

That’s something Zarmi has realized — and has experienced time and time again — during her almost 20 years in C-level positions. And it’s an important realization that she believes every current and aspiring CIO must embrace. “My job is to work with business leaders to help them and the users of the technology understand how much influence they have into the technology — and into the implementation as well,” she says. “That’s what I worry about: Putting a wonderful technology out there but not getting the right adoption or benefits.” 

Today, Zarmi leads PwC’s IT strategy and operations, overseeing more than 3,500 employees in 157 countries. As part of her ongoing transformation of the company’s IT organization, she focuses not only on digitalization and increased effectiveness, but also on collaborating more closely with clients, and on building more competitive offerings. And she emphasizes how technology will “reveal and illuminate the strong culture we have, and how important it is to embed our culture in the implementation of new technologies.” 

That, she says, has a lot to do with successful cross-geography solutions — and the lessons she learned during her experience at GE in London have paid dividends. 

“The actual lessons I learned there are very applicable today,” Zarmi says. “I’m glad I learned them a while ago, so that I can apply them in much more complex environment.”


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