35 Under 35: Marion S. Regnier, Senior Associate, PwC

MarionRegnierBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

“One of the things I have learned is that it’s not enough to be good at what you’re doing. You also have to network,” began Marion S. Regnier, Senior Associate in Technology consulting at PwC.

She continued, “They tell you that in school, but it’s not necessarily something I started doing when I started working. But I’ve realized that you can be very dedicated and excellent, but you still have to branch out.”

Career Path in Information Management

Regnier studied engineering as an undergraduate in France, and then earned her master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “During this time, I filed a patent, and I had several journal articles published,” she mentioned. “It was a different part of my life, and very different from what I’m doing today.”

After graduating, Regnier took a job as a consultant at Bearing Point, and moved to PwC in July 2009 after it acquired the portion of the firm she was in. She joined as an associate in PwC’s Technology Advisory business, and she was promoted to senior associate in 2010. “I’m hoping to be promoted to manager this year,” she added. “I focus mainly on information management solutions for financial services firms.”

Regnier said she is particularly proud of her level of client service. For example, she said, “Last year when I ended a project for a big brokerage firm, as we were wrapping up, I sent a farewell to the client. And they all responded that they were very satisfied and appreciated my dedication and enthusiasm.”

She continued, “I am really proud of that – I was able to exceed our clients’ expectations. For my line of service that level of client satisfaction is hard to achieve. I hope to continue it throughout my career.”

Currently, Regnier is working on pushing data protection solutions to the next level. “It’s a hot topic in the financial services industry,” she said. “I’m interested in the new data privacy challenges facing us on a global scale, particularly when it comes to mobile technology. It’s a big challenge, but I’m very excited about it.”

She continued, “Another challenge is the ability for financial services firms to draw information from all the massive amount of data out there. When it comes to applications like twitter, or other social networking – how do you draw information from that to grow your business? These topics are on the industry’s agenda. How can firms integrate information from these technologies into their data management plans at the strategic and tactical levels?”

Women in the Industry

Regnier said the number of women in IT consulting is still low. “It’s still a male dominated field. For example, there are about 20% women in my practice. And the percentage goes down as we move up the ranks. That’s challenging for women.”

She continued, “Plus there are long hours, and you have to travel a lot as a consultant. This can be discouraging as you grow your career. At the end, it’s a personal choice if you’re ready to commit the time.”

Regnier said that her biggest recommendation to young women in the industry is to get a mentor. “Start looking up right away,” she said. She also said her request to senior women is to mentor more people and serve as role models. “There are more and more women in all fields – get mentees!” she said.

As a lesbian, Regnier said, she faces an additional challenge. “Working in consulting you meet and work with new people all the time so coming out is a continuous process. I don’t think there is a one-time solution.”

LGBT individuals also have to make the decision on whom to come out to. She continued, “People have to do what they are comfortable with, but also be smart about it. Unfortunately, it’s the reality of the world – some people are still narrow-minded.”

Diversity at PwC

Regnier is the co-chair of the GLBT Circle for PwC’s New York Metro area. “One of the benefits of leading the circle is that it has greatly expanded my network – externally across the financial services industry and internally.”

She continued, “It’s given me access to all of these people I think I would not necessarily have easy access to – like partners, people in different geographies, clients and competitors, and senior professionals I wouldn’t meet at my level or be in contact with otherwise.”

The firm also offers a lot of benefits for women, Regnier said. “We’re always listed in the top ten for women by places like Working Mother – and there are a lot of different programs like flexwork, networking groups, Mentor Moms, training. I think the firm is very supportive in general.”

In Her Personal Time

Regnier said she loves to travel and to spend vacations abroad. “I also love scuba diving. I recently went to Hawaii, and dove with sea turtles a few feet away!”

“There were sharks too, but they weren’t as exciting as the turtles,” she added with a laugh.