Hi, I’m Joe Sartorio, and in addition to working as an associate in our New York Metro Risk Assurance Practice, I also serve as the captain of Princeton’s emergency and medical services. During the last six months, I felt PwC was stronger together when we responded to the COVID pandemic with an unwavering focus on our people and our community.
At the beginning of the pandemic when times were most uncertain and resources were most overwhelmed, Tim Ryan pledged the firm’s support for individuals with healthcare training who wished to serve on the frontlines. With the blessings and support of my team, I transitioned to full-time work as an EMT for six weeks from April to May as part of the firm’s newly introduced Emergency Volunteer Healthcare Worker Leave.
While those were some of the most difficult times of my career in emergency services, knowing I had the firm’s support made all the difference.
When COVID-19 became a pandemic back in March, one of the immediate priorities for our government in Canada was to tackle the challenge of getting PPE - personal protective equipment - and other critical supplies to the front lines across healthcare, social services, policing and other essential service workers. Our team of consultants was honored to be part of solving this challenge!
Through our joint efforts, the government over the matter of weeks were able to provide PPE to over 2,000 facilities across the province including tens of millions of masks, gloves, and other supplies to protect our essential service workers and continue to serve those in need across the region.
This is my new normal. Towards the end of 2019, I transitioned to working from home full-time. I would have never have guessed in a million years that my two daughters would be sitting next to me as I work five days a week, a few months later.
I won’t pretend that this has been easy, but I’ve been really fortunate that PwC has been really supportive in allowing me a flexible work schedule.
We’ve seen the benefits for our people, our clients, our suppliers and our communities of opening our offices safely. As government guidelines evolve, we too have to adapt our approach. Flexibility and agility are crucial. We’ve learnt a huge amount and now know the art of the possible.
When the story of 2020 is written in the PwC history books, one of the more compelling aspects of that story to me is going to be the move to virtual and how seamless it was.
At PwC, we have something called our Technology NorthStar Strategy. And, in this strategy, one of the central components is our investment in infrastructure and modernization. Within that investment, we focused primarily and initially on enabling virtual working. Now, at the time, we had no ability to conceive of something like COVID. Nor, did we anticipate the rapidity of the move to virtual that we would have to support.
But, I’m happy to share that in the span of two short weeks, we were able to facilitate the move of nearly all PwC’ers worldwide to a virtual working environment in a safe and secure way. And, on any given day since, we are maintaining securely over 200,000 remote sessions into PwC.
There were so many small entrepreneurs heavily affected by the COVID-19 crisis. By providing them practical insights, we could play our role in reducing the increased inequality due to this crisis.
I was touched by the engagement of the cross line of service team that made this idea a reality. But most of all, I vividly remember how grateful the people were when they got help from our helpdesk. I will cherish those memories because they make me realize that our purpose is very much alive.
When the COVID-19 outbreak started, I was at my hometown with my family for the Chinese New Year. When being called, I signed up as a volunteer. I worked with my colleagues to support corporate responsibility team for two weeks in arranging and tracking logistics of delivering medical materials to hospitals in Hubei province. When the first batch of our firm’s donations arrived, I felt so proud to be part of the solution. Although the pandemic terrified us, but I see our firm and every PwCers at their very best.
We are delighted to be partnering with the United Nations Development Programme on our flagship project to help emerging economies to recover from COVID-19.
If we are to secure sustainable growth following the pandemic, we need public and private sectors to come together. And this is where we as PwC can make a difference – facilitating real dialogue and looking for workable solutions. On a personal level, I am really proud of our PwC teams across the network who decided to join us to make an impact in these challenging times in the countries that need it most.
We at PwC Greece participate in the Tipping Point - a digital platform that brings together students and business mentors.
We started when Covid erupted, working from home, and our technology enabled our 35 PwC volunteers to train, upskill and mentor students in remote areas.
The Tipping Point is a morale boost both for us, the PwC people, and students because this is a digital window to a brand new world of knowledge and self development.
The Digital Fitness app is so amazing because we curated the content tailored to some relevant information during the pandemic. And the beauty of the Digital Fitness app was we deployed it to 90 plus countries in the network. We had over a million hours of learning, and we had about 400,000 people on it. This is our first B2C app in the marketplace, and it’s really exciting.
The COVID pandemic heavily impacted Italy not only for Italian citizens but also on our health system affected by the critical shortages of personal protective equipment for fighting the disease on the front line. To find a solution, I used my social media for a call to action that was reposted by Chiara Ferragni, Italian fashion blogger.
In two months a team of ten full time professionals, working pro-bono, reconverted more than 400 companies - from textile to laboratories and major brands. Together we donated more than 5 million masks and gowns to Italian hospitals helping save the lives of many.
The situation in the city of Bilaspur was chaotic, and a PwC client was actively involved in the relief operations. The client asked us for help in packing food for distribution and tracking people stranded due to the lockdown.
We invited our team members to get involved, and those who were in Bilaspur volunteered immediately. Working three hours a day, within four to five days we had packed 800 bags with rice, flour, dal, oil and salt.
We are proud of how we came together as a firm to support the relief effort and confront the challenge of the pandemic.
When China went into lockdown, we knew we needed a coordinated approach to understand the potential impacts – not only to engagement teams and clients in China but across the PwC network. We quickly convened a group of Assurance Quality Leaders from our largest territories.
The focus was on understanding issues our teams would likely face and how to deliver quality audits under completely new circumstances. As the pandemic spread, our working group evolved. Using our existing consultation networks in risk, methodology, accounting and reporting, we developed guidance focused on helping teams manage execution risks at the individual engagement level to continue delivering quality.
While COVID-19 caught businesses worldwide unguarded, the flip side is it has accelerated our push to be digitally enabled winners.
A few months back, unexpectedly, Singapore saw a sudden increase in cases among mostly foreign workers in dormitories. To quickly curb the virus spread and keep workers safe, a single trusted source of data collection to track workers' location within dormitories was needed as well as a consolidated platform to facilitate telehealth provision to them.
Being purpose driven and given our clinical as well as digital health knowledge and experience, PwC wanted to be part of the solution and we offered pro bono support. We collaborated with a dormitory owner, their operator and a third-party hardware provider to pilot our unique solution, Contact Tracer - a bluetooth wearable and software solution developed by our Experience Centre colleagues. The beauty of it was not only accuracy in data collection but it also ensured privacy and security by not requiring any personal information, and the solution is scalable too.
Separately, we supported healthcare authorities in developing a national telemedicine platform for the workers by pulling together the right people with the right capabilities across both public and private sectors.
The power of public-private partnerships is one big lesson learned from this unprecedented crisis. By bringing everyone together,regardless of organisation or affiliation, we can always find a way to work better together and solve important problems!
PwC Canada was involved with the “Accounting for Bravery” initiatives which were organised by CPA Ontario and CPA Manitoba during the early stages of the pandemic.
The initiatives involved preparing personal tax returns free of charge for frontline healthcare workers and their family members.
Over a six-week period, our virtual team prepared 350 tax returns for 200 frontline healthcare workers and their family members while leveraging our digital upskilling to work more efficiently and deliver on our commitment.
We are proud of the difference we made to our heroes in the healthcare industry and are grateful for their hard work.
Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 7803 974136