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Apr 25, 2016 2016-04 Accountancy

Lyceum – Catherine Engelbert, Deloitte LLP

Being a Leader in a Time of Rapid ChangeCatherine Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte LLP

In 2015, Cathy Engelbert, CEO for Deloitte LLP, came in at #21 on Fortune’s list of most powerful women in the United States. Pretty heady stuff, right? Not for Engelbert’s 18-year-old daughter. You know how tough it is to impress teenagers. But even Engelbert’s daughter’s eyes bugged out when she saw that Taylor Swift was ranked #51. “Mom! You ranked ahead of Taylor Swift!” Engelbert has had an easier time impressing executives at Deloitte over her 30-year career there. She might not be able to sing like Taylor Swift, but then she can lead 70,000 professionals in 90 cities in the US and India. Aspiring to Lead Engelbert was weaned on competition. One of eight children, including five brothers, she cut her competitive teeth on items like cereal and Pop Tarts, being sure to claim her rightful share. She went to Lehigh University, which was constituted of 80 percent males at the time, and joined a profession back in 1986 that had only 7 percent female partners. So she knows a little about competition, and what it takes to craft a successful career. “Did I ever think I was going to be CEO? No. Did I aspire to be CEO? No. But I did aspire to be a leader,” Engelbert told students at a recent accounting lyceum—held, appropriately enough, in the Deloitte Auditorium. “Growing up in a big family, and playing basketball and lacrosse, being captain of my team, I aspired to lead. That’s what I’ve based my career on and I encourage you to think about that as you embark on your career. Ultimately aspire to lead others, because that’s where you will likely find success in your careers, and you will also have some fun with it, and that’s important as well.” The Exponential Pace of Change Engelbert acknowledged that a few things had changed since she started her career. “I didn’t even have a computer when I started!” she said. “When we ultimately got computers, they were like suitcases.” “You, on the other hand, are entering the workforce at an amazing time. The pace of change is exponential. Ninety percent of the data that exists in the world today was created in the last two years. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data—I can’t even fathom that—created every day. You’re entering a business world where there’s a fourth industrial revolution going on. Technology is allowing for the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds.” Companies, Engelbert said, will be looking for young professionals who are hungry to build their skills and capabilities, take some risks, and do something different. She noted that artificial intelligence, analytics, the Internet of Things, are changing the way accounting professionals work. “I recommend a book called The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab,” she said. “It talks about the shifts that are occurring and the probability that these shifts will lead to connected cities, connected homes, connected cars, and 3D everything. You want to enter the workforce with a working knowledge of all this.” How Change is Impacting the Accounting Profession Life as we know it may be changing at warp speed—mobile supercomputing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, and genetic editing are just a few indications of this reality—but one thing remains constant: Accounting is a noble profession, one that the capital markets will continue to rely on. “You might not see it,” Engelbert said, “but we’re innovating like crazy. We’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars in innovation, including artificial intelligence and analytics; we’re building apps to do inventory observations and other tasks that are manually performed today; almost all things are being automated in this world.” “And that allows you to do more fun things using tools and technology, rather than doing rote manual mundane tasks. We won’t have fewer jobs; we will have different jobs with more time to focus on skepticism and judgement areas.” Backing that up, Engelbert noted that many kids in grammar school today will enter a workforce and apply for jobs that don’t even exist now. “Five years ago data scientists weren’t prevalent,” she said. “Now we can’t hire enough of them. There’s so much cool stuff going on that you guys are going to be at the forefront of.” Finding the Right Balance That said, Engelbert cautioned the students to find a balance in their professional and personal lives. She mentioned author James Patterson’s idea that we juggle four balls in life: work, health, family, and integrity. “When you drop a ball at work, you have a bad day, you realize that ball is rubber,” she said. “It bounces back. But the other three balls, you drop one of those, they are glass and they shatter. So you want to be sure that you are taking care of yourself, your health, your family, and your integrity. No matter what job or career you end up in, integrity is always the base for the future and success of your career.” Take it from someone who ranked higher than Taylor Swift on America’s most powerful women list. Cathy Engelbert might not be able to sing a lick, but she’s done okay in the area of business leadership. <sidebar>Quick Thoughts from Cathy Engelbert Cathy Engelbert shared a number of quick thoughts while taking questions from the students. Here is Engelbert… On being a female CEO:
  • “You do get treated a little differently. There are only 21 women CEOs in the Fortune 500. It can actually be an advantage because CEOs do want to hear a diverse perspective.”
  • “It is kind of cool to break that glass and provide role models for women and men.”
  • “I make sure people know I am a mother. Just because I’m a woman and a CEO and a mom doesn’t mean I can’t do it all. I got to 86 percent of my daughter’s lacrosse games her final season because I set a goal. You can do it all as defined by you.”
On Deloitte’s innovation process:
  • “We’re doing a little crowdsourcing. We get ideas bubbling up from our ‘D-Tank’ process. We are pursuing about fifty of those ideas.”
  • “The tough part about innovation is failing. When you have finite capital you have to take your shots, and you sometimes have to fail, fail fast, and recover. Smartphones did not start out like you see them today.”
On artificial intelligence:
  • “In the old days, we read a lot of contracts. With artificial intelligence you can teach the machine to read and you can do thousands of contracts in seconds. It used to take hours and hours for one contract.”
On the blurring of industries:
  • “There’s a blurring of industries. Many banks we work with say they are now a technology company. Technology companies are getting into the banking industry space. Retail pharmacies no longer see themselves as retailers but as in the healthcare industry.”
  • “You have to have a passion for the industry you work in. You need to keep your eye on the blurring of these industry lines and keep ahead of that.”
On starting your career:
  • “You have to be confident in whatever you do. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have confidence in my capabilities.”
  • “You can’t really make a mistake this early in your career. Even if you start out in an area that you don’t like, there’s so much opportunity for people like you that have a great foundation to be able to do something once you start. So don’t worry about making a career decision today that you will regret.”
On leadership:
  • “It’s really important as a leader to share your voice, to have principles and integrity. It’s also about listening and fostering a collaborative environment. Confidence and being a good listener are two of the most important aspects for me.”
  • “Look at the role models you admire and emulate the leadership skills that you think will serve you best.”
On the value of an accounting career:
  • “Don’t think you can’t be a generalist. You have so much opportunity to learn when you get in on the ground floor. You may never be a jack of all trades, but an accounting foundation puts you ahead of the curve.”
  • On answering a question about whether a student is limiting their growth if they are not a technology major: “You’re not limited because you chose business or accounting. It’s just the opposite. You get such a great ground-floor view into corporate America and how those companies evolve that you don’t need the expertise necessarily around the technology.”