Rob McCargow

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Rob McCargow, Director of AI, PwC, about his career.

Rob is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Rob will be discussing the evolution of artificial intelligence.

At PwC, Rob works with partners across academia, government, technology vendors, start-ups, and other key stakeholders, in order to drive innovation within the Firm and develop new services for clients. He is an evangelist for responsible technology and promote awareness of the growing ethical agenda relating to AI.

Rob is also an advisory board member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI, an adviser to The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in AI and Autonomous Systems, and a TEDx speaker. He is particularly focused upon the issues and policies relating to the impact of automation on the workforce, the future skills agenda, and ensuring that the benefits to be delivered by AI are equitably spread across society.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I’ve had a rather diverse career to date with stints in executive search, HR operations, and the humanitarian response sector before joining PwC four years ago. I ended up co-leading a major AI programme and have developed the role from there.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Nope! The first part of my career was mainly occupied with chasing bonuses quarter-after-quarter which eventually made me miserable. I now try to keep in mind some key principles that I want to adhere to but also ensure that I can change course quickly as opportunities arise.

What inspired you to get involved in motivational speaking?

I only started with public speaking two years ago when I got the opportunity to do a TEDx Talk and it’s grown from there. I love having a regular platform to share ideas but I equally love the opportunities it presents to travel to far-flung places, meet amazing people and learn from them.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

I’ve had some pretty wild experiences in the last few years but bumping into Robert de Niro in a Dubai hotel and chatting about climate change was quite a highlight!

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

I hope to dispel a few myths about AI, put some of the hype and fear in context, and inspire people to move into the field.

What are your top three tips for success?

1) In that split second when you wake up in the morning, are you leaping out of bed looking to grab the day by the scruff of the neck… or are you dreading it? If it’s continually the latter then do something about it.
2) Prioritise identifying a mission and purpose that lights your passion over money and job titles.
3) In order to grow, agree to do something every week that scares you.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Having plumbed the depths of depression several years ago, I needed a radical new direction and ended up joining an NGO and going to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak. That experience certainly put a lot of my own challenges into context but it also gave me the confidence to keep pushing the boundaries in my career.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

My late mother – Cathy – was, and still is, my main role model. As a midwife and single mother, she attained an MBA and reached the upper echelons of management in the NHS… as well as becoming a fearless skydiver! She sadly died from Motor Neurone Disease several years ago but she remained a beacon of inspiration and positivity to everyone she knew right up to her final days.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

In the technology sector, the proportion of female representation in the workforce is woefully low. Our Tech She Can Charter is attempting to address this by working with schools and other stakeholders, creating role models for young girls to be inspired by, and partnering with over 100 organisations to share best practice.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

While mentoring is powerful, I think senior male leaders should be much more proactive about sponsoring the careers of women in the workplace.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Find a way of being more relaxed in your own skin at work, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t just accept your failures but speak openly about them and learn to love them.


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