Theo Gray EMCS ‘18 – From a Career in Law to Cyber at PwC

Congratulations to Theo Gray who recently moved to a senior consultant role within the Cyber Security Group at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) just a matter of months shy of graduating Brown’s Executive Master in Cybersecurity (EMCS) program. 

“I’ve kept my career interesting and vital by chasing the next big thing,” said Gray when asked why she pursued an advanced degree in cybersecurity. “Cyber is that next big thing.” 

In the ‘90s, during the Law and Order decade, Gray got her law degree. In the ‘90’s, with Y2K on the horizon, Gray went into IT. Recently she realized her goal of advancing her career in cyber when she leveraged her EMCS degree to transfer into PwC’s cyber division. 

This is her story.

Theo Gray

Making History: The Inaugural Brown Executive Master in Cybersecurity Cohort

Gray grew her career in law and tech but pivoted to cyber when she noticed a growing uptick in cyber attacks. As an expert in software asset management, she became concerned about vulnerabilities in the cloud. She joined the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and started to look for cyber programs that would complement her legal expertise and social science background from Dartmouth.

Gray spoke with a number of colleagues with advanced certificate degrees in cyber from Ivy schools but didn’t think they got the kind of training and career boost she was looking for.

“As a seasoned professional, I wanted a rigorous program that leveraged my wealth of career experience and positioned me to be a leader in cyber now,” said Gray. “Furthermore, as a senior professional, the program needed to accommodate my demanding work schedule.

When Brown launched its EMCS program in 2016, Gray jumped on it.

“Finally a university was offering a rigorous executive program that addressed the magnitude of the crisis we’re facing.”

The Surprising Truth behind Cybersecurity Leadership

Brown’s EMCS program also appealed to Gray because of its multidisciplinary curriculum. However, as a lawyer, she wondered if she would be a second-class citizen in a cohort of engineers.  She was pleasantly surprised to find herself with students across the professional spectrum, and the critical value that all of their different perspectives brought to cyber leadership.

“The professional diversity of our cohort taught us that we all had to expand beyond our expertise to master the policy, privacy, human factors and IT aspects of cybersecurity. Engineers followed the tech problems but struggled with policy and law. Us lawyers quickly lost our smugness when we couldn’t follow the flow charts.

In a fusion program like EMCS, the curriculum crosses a broad array of functions. Because of our diverse cohort, we were able to help each other out and overcome our individual professional limitations."

Gray’s Critical Challenge Project: Where Whiskey Meets GDPR

“I’m excited about cyber,” said Gray. “My other passion is whiskey.” Her EMCS Critical Challenge Project (CCP) gave her a unique opportunity to blend these two interests. Having studied under master brand managers at top distilleries she was fortunate enough to be a woman of color that broke into the industry. Over the course of a decade, she was able to build a rich network of distillery owners, many of them abroad.

Inspired by EMCS’s heavy focus on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s game-changing privacy regulation that takes effect May 25, 2018, Gray wondered how small to medium sized distilleries would abide by these complicated, new EU privacy requirements.

“Unlike the US, everyone in Europe knows GDPR,” said Gray. “Every company must comply yet few have access to the skillset to do so. For my CCP, I developed a business plan based on survey work of these distilleries and a pilot project to help these companies become GDPR compliant.

GDPR is a reality that businesses around the world aren’t ready for. EMCS is the rare program that provides the broad-based skill set necessary to help companies avoid GDPR’s costly penalties."

PwC Promotion - Good News Travels Fast

According to Gray, PwC leadership called her over Christmas break as soon as they learned that she was in a Brown University executive cybersecurity program and transferred her to the cyber division.

“Brown’s EMCS program gave me instant credibility,” said Gray. “It was like winning a spot on the Olympics team. More importantly the curriculum made me a valuable asset to the company. On the first project that I was assigned to, I could tell a senior person had some doubts. I started answering his questions about GDPR. He responded, ‘You’re qualified!’”

In fact, her expertise landed her in the semi-finals of the PwC cybersecurity innovation shark tank challenge, and she had only been on the team for two weeks. Though not the winner she is excited to bring her concepts back next year. For the win! 

“As members of the inaugural EMCS cohort, we’re modern pioneers, uniquely prepared to confront the policy, technical and human factor challenges to protect companies in a digital age,” said Gray.

We congratulate Gray on her upcoming graduation and look forward to following her career as she drives cybersecurity forward.