Building an inspiring career: How I’m helping clients innovate and transform securely in a digital, data-driven world

March 16, 2021

Naeem Budhwani is an Associate and part of our Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Financial Crime (CP&FC) team in Toronto. With a passion for continuous learning, he’s taking the lead on digitally upskilling and leveraging new skills to help clients who are facing threatening security challenges. With the support of his colleagues and mentors, he’s paving the way for an exciting and inspiring career at PwC Canada.

Naeem Budhwani

My journey to a career at PwC Canada

I went to Western University to study philosophy. Reading about existentialism and forms of reasoning was intellectually satisfying, but rather than engage abstract theories, I wanted to build something concrete that I could test with practical results. I switched my major to mathematics and computer science, which led to the opportunity to work for a government contractor based out of Toronto and then at Waterloo’s Magnet Forensics on digital forensics software. With this experience, I decided to pursue a career with PwC Canada and joined the firm in January 2020 as part of the DevSecOps (Secure Software Operations) team.

Building a community 

My experience at PwC Canada so far has exceeded my expectations. No two weeks are the same, and the pace of change requires me to keep up a diverse skill set. With the wide variety of courses, training and opportunities the firm offers, I’ve been able to take charge of my career and invest in my professional development. To stay up to date on the latest trends, my teammates and I have built a learning community with ‘lunch and learns’ and open-door policies to share our knowledge with each other.

There are also many opportunities at PwC to be part of a community and create a sense of belonging. I volunteer with the social committee for Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Financial Crime, bringing our team together for socials like virtual Jeopardy. I also direct operations for CP&FC’s wellness committee, have been leading weekly meditation sessions and executing wellness campaigns like our recent fitness challenge.

Working together to solve digital trust problems

As part of the DevSecOps team I’ve had the opportunity to develop ransomwares, automate threat analyses and analyze and implement software development lifecycles, to name a few. During the pandemic, my team and I released open-source software to the community that queries Splunk (the nerve center of an organization’s security operations) for Covid-19 related indicators of compromise (IoCs). 

During my first few weeks at the firm, I had the opportunity to work from our state-of-the-art Vaughan Digital Resilience Centre. The Centre was designed to help organizations unite their lines of defence against modern day threats and enable new possibilities. One afternoon, it became clear that a client was facing a security threat. My team and I occupied a conference room and began reverse-engineering the malicious software. Since then, my team and I have responded to many cyber incidents—each presenting a unique set of problems to solve and people to work with. The hands-on experience enables me to learn quickly and grow as a professional in the field.

Upskilling to deliver differently 

PwC encourages innovation and the use of technology to help solve important problems and deliver differently. In order to stay relevant and provide the best service to our clients, we’re encouraged to have a digital mindset and continuously raise our digital skills. So far, my upskilling journey has been focused on application security and incident response as the threat landscape is constantly evolving. Being able to practice what I learn in a secure lab environment enables me to easily explain concepts to clients and colleagues. Having access to do-it-yourself upskilling tools like PwC's Cyber Academy not only widens my skill set but also improves my knowledge retention and ability to ask the right questions.

From associates to partners, the CP&FC team truly believes in sharing knowledge and upskilling to strengthen the practice and deliver the best service to our clients.

Expand your comfort zone

Risk is information rich - by doing, you learn about yourself and your environment. If you’re starting out in your career like I am, expand your comfort zone by choosing a comfort challenge. One of my comfort challenges is getting in touch with three new people every week to explore new opportunities, quench my curiosity, and envision my future. I enjoy taking my learnings and sharing with my team, keeping the learning community alive.