Building a better working world
Chairman and CEO’s letter: James S. Turley
James S. Turley
Chairman and CEO
In July 2001, I was appointed to lead Ernst & Young. In my first year in the job, the world saw two defining events – the 9/11 attacks in the US and China’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Each demonstrated a different aspect of the globalization that has been shaping the world over the past generation.
Also in my first year, although on a smaller scale, the accountancy profession was thrown into crisis by high-profile audit failures in companies such as Enron and WorldCom. That crisis not only led to the demise of Andersen, one of the then Big Five global accountancy organizations, but also to the end of a century of self-regulation for the profession.
In some ways, globalization and regulation have been the defining issues of my tenure. Ernst & Young’s response to globalization has been to build the most globally integrated organization, in both mindset and structure, in our profession. Our response to regulatory change has been to embrace it through emphasizing quality in everything we do and engaging with regulators around the world.
Now, as I prepare to step down from my role at the end of June, I’ve been thinking about the past 12 years, of the changes we’ve seen and what the experience has taught me.
The first is that entrepreneurs matter. They are the engines of job creation and thrive in a globalized economy that provides them increased opportunity. They have particularly important roles in emerging economies as the state reduces its role. Ernst & Young has long supported entrepreneurs with our services and celebrated them through our Entrepreneur Of The Year program, which now covers more than 50 countries.
The second is that across the business world, but particularly in the regulatory sphere, standards matter. Standards create incentives that drive real-world behavior. In a globalized world, it’s important that standards are coordinated and aligned. At Ernst & Young, we have long been advocates of International Financial Reporting Standards for precisely this reason, and we will remain engaged in regulatory discussion and debate worldwide to promote global standards to benefit investors, companies and markets.
The third is that people matter. As the world becomes more complex, no individual can know all the answers, so building diverse teams becomes more important. This requires that all of us look beyond our differences and appreciate talent in all its forms. Further than that, we must harness the power of different viewpoints by leading inclusively, making sure that not only does each person feel comfortable in speaking, but also that each person’s voice is heard and valued. Ernst & Young has always put people at the heart of our strategy, and today we emphasize diversity and inclusiveness as a central theme.
Finally, and most importantly, values matter. They are the foundation on which sound organizations are built and, in a globalized world, transcend differences of language and culture. Respect, integrity, teaming, the courage to lead and building relationships based on doing the right thing are Ernst & Young’s values, and above all else, I have tried to underline their importance to us through everything I’ve said and done.
Leading Ernst & Young has been a privilege and a pleasure – I have had the opportunity to meet and work with fascinating and inspirational leaders around the globe, both inside and outside our organization. Ernst & Young’s next Chairman and CEO, Mark Weinberger, is one of those leaders. I am sure that under his direction, Ernst & Young will continue its vital role in serving business and in serving the public interest, and will move from strength to strength.
James S. Turley
Chairman and CEO