Update: PwC fails at the Oscars. Read our post covering what happened.

What does Pricewaterhousecoopers do for the Oscars?

If you don’t think the Big 4 can be glitz and glam then you don’t know about PwC’s role at the Oscars. Make sure to read all the way through this blog post because we will be covering:

  • Who the partners are who count the ballots

  • Why the ballot briefcase is the next Carmen San Diego.

  • Is the ballot-counting process really safe?

  • What does PwC actually do at the Oscars?

  • Which party will the PwC Partners be attending?

  • Where to go if you can’t get enough PwC at the Oscars

 Listen to our Podcast about the PwC Oscars Mistake.

What does PwC actually do at the Oscars?

PwC is in charge of counting the ballots that determine award winners at the Oscars. They have been in charge of the process for 83 years.

PwC has two partners that you will visibly see at the Oscars. They are the only two people that know the identity of the Oscar winners before the envelopes are opened.

Those two partners are:

  1. Brian Cullinan and
  2. Martha Ruiz

Everything else that PwC does for the Oscars will be behind the scenes.

The ballots are counted manually even though some of the voting is done electronically. The partners divvy up the work among several PwC employees on their team so that only Brian and Martha end up knowing the end result.

Who are these two red-carpet-ready partners?

Shocker, both of them work in the LA office. If you want to someday be them, then work in LA and work your way up the US leadership ladder.

The first partner is Brian Cullinan. He went to Cornell University, so it might help if you go to an Ivy league too if you want to be a ballot-counter.  Brian also serves on the US board for PwC. He works on entertainment industry clients. A lot of people also think he looks like Matt Damon which I agree with. He is the 14th partner to count Oscar ballots and Martha is the 15th.

Here is his linkedin profile:

 Brian Cullinan

Here is a link to his twitter profile

Brian Cullinan Twitter

Martha Ruiz is a tax partner. Both her and Brian work in the entertainment line of service which also makes sense for the role. She has worked at PwC for over 20 years. She made her way to the top of PwC’s ballot-counting list by working behind the scenes on the PwC Oscars engagement for 10 years. Martha is the first Latina woman to have this job. 

Here is Martha’s twitter

Martha Ruiz Twitter

Did you know that the PwC ballot briefcase is the new Carmen San Diego.

PwC has had their ballot case travel around the world just like the international woman of mystery. You had to guess where it would pop up next. They did this to promote their work at the Oscars. This approach actually won a social media promotion (Shorty) award last year.  This gimmick brings back memories of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

Where in the world is…………….PwC’s ballot briefcase

Locations of where the ballot briefcase went

  • New York – Jan 23-25
  • Boston – Jan 26-28
  • Philly Jan 29-31
  • Cleveland Feb 1-3
  • Chicago Feb 4-7
  • Minneapolis Feb 8-9
  • Miami Feb 10-13
  • Dallas Feb 14-15
  • Houston Feb 16-18
  • Mexico Feb 19-21
  • LA – Feb 22 – Oscars

The ballot briefcase also had some Valentine’s day admirers on Valentines Day

The #BallotBriefcase gets some serious #ValentinesDay love from its secret admirers ❤️????

A post shared by PwC US (@pwc_llp) on

This brings up the next question. Is the process actually safe?

In a joking tone, I say the process isn’t safe and lacks controls. If the ballot briefcase was traveling around the world by itself, how could it be safe? Anyone could take a peek inside and figure out the winners if they were actually in the case. 

As a person who has participated in a few audits, this seems like a significant deficiency in controls.

Additionally, this got me thinking. Doesn’t this raise some concerns for the Oscars? I say this partially joking because the ballot briefcase is just a fake, but also want to look at it in a more serious light.

Everyone is allowed to have fun at the Oscars, but I don’t think the accountants should. I’m sure they are making a ton of money for doing this unless they cut the fee in order to be allowed to do publicity. I would expect my auditor to take the task seriously.

Would you expect the auditor of Toys R Us to run around the world playing with toys? No, even though the business is aimed at kids, the auditor is still expected to be professional. Yet with the Oscars, there is an exception now. How did this come about and why is it ok all of a sudden?

How funny would it be if PwC did this with their other clients. What if they did the same thing with AIG’s 10-k. What if they instagramed a stack of papers and said, “Where is AIG’s draft 10-k today? Only 5 days until this baby goes final. Where will the numbers end up #earningsviews.”

What I think happened is that PwC felt like they were missing out on the fun in the past. People used to make fun of the serious accountants at the Oscars. Now PwC, forever appealing to potential millennial recruits, wants to show that they are cool and like the celebrities at the Oscars. These partners really go on a road show and try to become mini celebrities before the Oscars. So much so that you ask how much work actually went into this event for PwC. Optically it looks like they put all their efforts into the publicity and not the vote counting.

Remember the saying that you learn in accounting class – Independence in appearance and in fact. In this case PwC needs to work on their appearance. Not from an independence perspective, but from a hard work perspective. They don’t appear to be hard working. In between pictures of the briefcase traveling, they should insert some pictures of PwC employees with their sleeves rolled up and counting ballots.

Where will the partners be headed after the Oscars?

Both partners will be attending the Governor’s ball. The Governor’s ball is the official party of the Oscars.

You can find out more about the Governor’s ball at this link.

Oscars Governor’s Ball

Where to go if you can’t get enough PwC at the Oscars

We’ve provided a listing below of places where you can find more PwC Oscars content.

PwC has a dedicated page. The link is included below. It’s just a brief overview.

PwC Oscars Page

PwC will also have a live stream event at the Oscars from 4-430 pacific time on Feb 26th. They are teaming up with Huffington post for this

The link is below

PwC Pre Oscars Live Stream

PwC Instagram

Go to PwC’s instagram to see their Oscars coverage including where their ballot briefcase traveled to.
PwC Instagram


Medium is a popular blogging site. PwC has used it for some of their publicity news releases.There is a Q&A on there with Brian and Martha.

There is a Q&A on there with Brian and Martha.

Huffington Post

PwC has multiple posts on Huffington post:

How movies teach us purpose

These Accountants Are The Only People Who Know The Oscar Results