On a typical Monday morning, Carina Hira (CDM ’02, MS ’04) boards a plane at 6:30 a.m. to commute to a client site where she will start her work day. Depending on the assignment, Hira, director at Chicago-based consulting firm PwC, could be spending the next two days or the next two years working on the given project. “It’s not a lifestyle for everyone, but for those who embrace it, it’s extremely rewarding,” she says.
As part of the financial services practice, Hira consults with multinational banks to optimize their financial technologies and operations. She draws on nearly 12 years of experience to help her clients with anything from developing more efficient month-end processes to rolling out entirely new financial systems. “Nine times out of 10, the answer is sitting in the minds of the people who brought us on board to help,” she asserts. “What I help to do is articulate that answer, put some structure around it and execute it.”
Hira had no idea what she was getting into when she first took a job at Accenture in 2004. “I didn’t even know what consulting was,” she laughs. Hira quickly learned the job, applying basic principles from her information systems and human-computer interaction studies. “I’m the person who sits between the business guy and the tech guy and helps them both figure out how to get to common ground,” she says. “I use what I learned at DePaul all the time, just not in the ways I imagined I would when I graduated.”
In recognition of her contributions to the field, Hira was named a 2015 Rising Star of the Profession by Consulting Magazine, an honor that took her completely by surprise. “I’ve gathered all this knowledge and expertise and applied it in different ways. The problems might be different, but I still have the right skills to support the clients,” she explains. “Consultants aren’t necessarily always specialists. They are generalists, but they bring a suite of standards and best practices to the table. Leveraging those, as well as our networks, is what makes us good at what we do.”
“Before you send an email or run over to somebody’s office to have a quick conversation, stop and think. If you just hold on for a few minutes, you may change your mind. It’s a small thing but can have massive impact.”