Candida Paiva

I was born to parents who did not study beyond the eighth grade.

While I applaud them for being persistent about seeing all their children obtain university degrees, there was no getting around the huge disadvantage that them not being ‘in the know’ posed. I watched my friend’s parents, guide and expose them to various courses and activities that were beyond my parents’ world. So, from a young age it was clear to me that if I wanted to succeed, it was going to be down to me. The decisions and the choices I’ve made were driven by a large extent by that.

Today, I am a Technology Risk Manager at PwC, however I started my career selling houseboats and then on to selling computers and peripherals at a computer showroom in India. Back then, not knowing much about computers, I was expected to meet aggressive sales targets with little upskilling provided. I reached out to my network of friends and spent many an evening learning what made up a computer to be able to talk the language. This became a common theme in my career – taking up opportunities and work that I was not used to and making a success out of it. A significant example of that is when I took up a role I knew nothing about (risk management) to oversee risks in a Technology department. While the task was daunting, I embraced the challenge, learned on the job and upskilled myself through courses on both IT and risk management to earn the respect of my IT colleagues and to bring credibility to the role.

I moved to the UK 15 years ago with my husband and our 5-month-old baby with no family support around us. While I embraced being a new mum and the experience of being an expat in a new country, I was also driven to be successful in my career. I picked up a job almost straight away at a well-known Bank and pushed myself to make my mark at work. I have battled with the joy of being a new mother and the drive to feel successful in a great career, dipping in and out of work till I found a way to make my peace with it all.

Growing up, I did not know of professional service firms or routes in. When I was introduced to the concept of consulting and working with various clients, I was intrigued and jumped at an opportunity to work with the leading professional services firm – PwC. At PwC I have worked across a range of financial services clients, helping them build and improve their risk frameworks. Working in professional services though is not for the faint hearted. That lifetime of training on taking on tasks I knew nothing about was about to pay off. There’s never been a week where I have not been pushed out of my comfort zone to deliver on engagements. This was all hard at the beginning till I realized that the key to success lay in the wealth of knowledge within the firm. Networking and knowing how to be resourceful, how to join the dots and how to confidently hold discussions with just enough knowledge across a range of subjects is all an art, but it’s an art that one can master through hard work and preparation. In fact, preparation is the magic ingredient. There’s been many a night where I have pushed aside my beloved Jane Austen’s to give way to reading what the latest article from the regulator is and how it would impact my client engagements. I have worked very hard to overcome that feeling of being out of my depth – feeling like an imposter even, to now feeling comfortable in my skin.

From selling houseboats and computers to confidently and successfully advising clients about their technology risks at PwC – I have come very far indeed and am grateful for where I am. I support PwC’s Social Mobility initiatives so I can support those who come from humble beginnings like me. I have worked with schools enrolled in the programme to open avenues and options to students who otherwise would not know were there. That has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying initiatives I’ve been a part of.