Philip Garland is a Partner at PwC and serves as Chief Information Officer for the US firm. In this capacity, Mr. Garland is responsible for the design of an enhanced technology infrastructure for the firm’s future, improving the user experience and establishing technology that appropriately aligns with and enables the firm’s businesses and strategic support functions. He is also responsible for PwC’s IT team operational efficencies to facilitate PwC to be an early adopter of technology, respond to change with agility and create value for our clients.
Since being named PwC’s US CIO in September 2012, Mr. Garland has focused on enabling the firm’s business goals by developing and implementing a technology strategy based upon disruptive technologies in four key areas: social, mobile, analytics and cloud. Mr. Garland is leading PwC through a multi-year business transformational journey that includes: embracing the consumerization of IT with an emphasis on mobility, launching a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy, shifting PwC’s IT team to focus on data, analytics, and application programming interfaces (APIs) , and helping the firm embrace the cloud in a manner consistent with our values around security, agility, innovation, simplicity, and economies of scale, while driving the global alignment of IT services for PwC.
Mr. Garland has over twenty five years of experience in management and technology consulting.
We read about robots every week, from a leisurely scan of the Sunday paper, to popular web sites, to Hollywood films and ebooks. Robots and software seem to be “eating the world.” Their artificially intelligent (AI) systems are performing ever more complex tasks that we once thought were the realm of human beings.
The advent of cloud (C) has provided mass scale of computing at affordable cost. The explosion of data from social media (S), mobile devices (M), and analytics (A) provides an incredible array of digitized audio, visual, and sensory input. Taken together as SMAC, the vast quantities of data can feed millions of virtual neurons, creating an artificial mind. Academic curiosities in AI are fast becoming a reality.
The demand for people who understand these systems, can analyze data, communicate and map robot capabilities to business needs, and lead and motivate people to change is incredible. We call these people polymaths – they see all disciplines as merely languages to interact with the world. Leonardo daVinci, Steve Jobs, Isaac Newton were all polymaths; future success will rely on our ability to inspire and recruit these polymaths.
We are experiencing a significant supply shortage of polymaths. The industry fights over the same shrinking set of skills, often paying a significant wage premium. This further drives wage inequality and eliminates jobs.
PwC alone will aim to hire 100,000 professionals with these skills over the next decade. If we guess that one out of ten high school students who express interest actually graduate with a STEM degree, we need 10 million students interested in STEM-related work with the potential to become polymaths.
We need to address this shortage.
We began a research program code-named “DaVinci” in 2014 to address the skill gap caused by growth in SMAC technologies. We partnered with a startup founded by Chris Williams, a young leader dedicated to democratizing access to technology in many facets.
Our research team hypothesized that fun and engaging experiences that blend man with machine could ignite interest in STEM at any age. Chris and PwC saw this first-hand at professional technology conferences. People of all walks of life were excited, programming and controlling their environment with little to no experience or special tools. Engagement between parent and child was off the charts. We sought to bottle this up and scale it globally.
Together, we set out to create a program where anyone could coach a roomful of professionals, young adults, and/or students, building and controlling robots together. The experience would involve simple programming, manufacturing, design, mechanics and electronics – a rich brew of STEM and art. And when the learners complete the program, they would keep their robot creations, allowing them to continue their exploration and growth.
The cost point of $50 per student inclusive of all hardware and software allows the program to scale to millions of students and makes the program accessible to all socio-economic segments. Sponsorship of this program is an effective utilization of recruiting and retention resources, reigniting a passion for technology in the existing workforce, while inspiring the polymaths critical to the future workforce.
The “DaVinci” program is being piloted at three schools, ranging from tough inner city environments to wealthy suburbs. We are working with pilot schools in Virginia and California to map each of these components to Common Core Standards, Standards of Learning, and Career and Technical Education. The resulting lesson plans can be shared and modified openly, approved by academics for use in classroom settings.
The program has deeply engaged students that have historically been disconnected from traditional curricula. Students leave the class asking if technology can be a permanent part of their education. Parents are spending hours engaged with their children. Cellphones and computing resources move from passive engagement to active instruments of education and exploration.
We plan to share the results of these pilots more broadly in the fall, and to make the “DaVinci” programs available through open source. Our goal is to reach as many students and adults as possible, igniting interest in modern technology in a fun, engaging way. This program is an example of how the problems facing corporations, hiring of talented individuals, can be solved with mass societal benefit including the easing of income inequality and preparing a labor force for the rise of intelligent machines.
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