Career Advice from Deloitte’s CEO

Barry Salzberg, the CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, recently came to the A.B. Freeman School of Business as a guest speaker. As CEO, Mr. Salzberg leads approximately 200,000 employees across 150 countries. On the morning of his presentation, Mr. Salzberg met with 12 MACCT students in an hour-long closed-door session.

Mr. Salzberg opened by stating he had no agenda, and we were free to ask him any questions. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to ask any question to the leader of a Big 4 accounting firm. Some of the questions were personal. For example, Mr. Salzberg mentioned how he took the unconventional route of obtaining his law degree and said most CEOs and partners do not have their law degree. Other questions sought advice for our accounting career. I knew Mr. Salzberg’s advice would be critical to my professional development and long-term success as an accountant. Here are his keys to success for new accountants:

Brand Yourself

A person’s reputation will be a major factor in their success at a firm. Mr. Salzberg said that I am in control of my own brand, and I need to do everything possible to maintain a good reputation. My brand affects my interactions within my firm and with my clients.

Have a Network

Most offices will have a large number of people, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost in the crowd. Most accounting firms have a formal process of giving new hires a “buddy” and a mentor. These people help new hires acclimate to life in an accounting firm and make sure they are growing as professionals.

Speak up and show leadership

This will be extremely hard as a new hire. It will be much easier to sit in the back and be quiet when I start in an accounting firm. However, Mr. Salzberg said new hires are successful when they are active and show commitment to the firm and their work.

Be a person who people will go to for advice

This was the first time I had heard this advice for new hires. Accounting firms expect new hires to ask plenty of questions, but I rarely think of people seeking advice from me. When I go to a manager for advice, I want to know that person will be patient, friendly, and have my best interest in their mind. My goal to be a person whom people will go for advice will improve my brand, my network, and my leadership skills.

Neil Huntsman