“Our alumni have great memories of their time at the firm,” says Karen Glover, Americas Director of Recruiting and Mobility. So it’s not surprising that today, more than 20% of the people Ernst & Young hires at the manager level and above are Ernst & Young alumni. These boomerangs cite many reasons for coming back, notes Glover, including Ernst & Young’s culture of teaming, continuous learning and inclusiveness.
We talk with these four new leaders about their decision to return.
- Nicole Horton, Executive Director, Transaction Advisory Services (TAS)
- Suresh Mangtani, Americas Leader for Program Management, IT Advisory Services
- Karen Gilbreath-Sowell, National Tax Director of Global Accounts
- Chell Smith, Americas Advisory Markets Leader
Where were you working before returning to Ernst & Young, and why did you come back?
Gilbreath-Sowell: I spent six months investigating various job alternatives for the next phase of my career. The Tax Policy office at Treasury is a small group of highly motivated, extremely intelligent and dedicated individuals who are at the top of their game. Among the organizations I was considering, Ernst & Young came closest to that environment. While certainly not small, Ernst & Young is filled with extraordinary professionals, many of whom I’ve known and worked with over the last 20 years.
Horton: Before I rejoined Ernst & Young, I was a senior vice president at Macquarie Capital. I had always liked Ernst & Young and the working atmosphere. And I was ready for a change. At Ernst & Young I had always teamed with great people, and had many opportunities to stretch and prove myself. I had strong opinions and was able to share them and have them heard. In coming back, I was pleased to have a role in restarting the firm’s restructuring practice.
How did your earlier experience at Ernst & Young help you in your previous job?
Mangtani: Through my initial Ernst & Young experience, I came to understand why the firm emphasizes investment in people and the benefits of collaboration. I also gained insights into the importance of workplace integrity and exceeding client expectations.
These principles guided my career when I left for Capgemini and continue today: 1) focus on the clients and listen to their issues; 2) be honest in your interaction with the clients and earn their trust; and 3) challenge, reward and look after your people.
Smith: I have always loved the culture of the firm: people-oriented and collaborative at its very core. Just as important, the Ernst & Young culture appreciates diversity in every possible dimension — not just ethnic diversity but diversity of experience, background, opinion and thought. It’s easy to contribute because no one expects you to think like everyone else. This has been an invaluable lesson, particularly as I have assumed global leadership roles. I was fortunate to be at the firm in the early days of the Women’s Leadership Program, which helped shape my career aspirations.
What notable changes have you seen since returning to Ernst & Young?
Mangtani: I was in Management Consulting, where the primary focus was on business performance improvement and information technology. During my eight years away, our service offerings have evolved in response to the increasingly regulated business environment. We now have a globally integrated organization with consistent operating models across all regions. Also, I see a tremendous commitment at Ernst & Young around inclusiveness. There are many more platforms for people at all levels to engage in firm activities and develop leadership skills.
Horton: During my first stint at Ernst & Young, I worked in the corporate finance unit, a separate business that was eventually sold. Since returning to the firm as part of the TAS practice, I feel much more connected. I also observe a much higher level of integration within the overall organization, and with that, a greater willingness to take a multidisciplinary approach to client services and issues.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Gilbreath-Sowell: Retired partner Mark Yecies was my closest mentor and had a significant impact on my career. He afforded me many opportunities, including helping me obtain my first job at the Treasury. A brilliant lawyer, he was dedicated to the people he led and was selfless. His helpful advice: enjoy what you do, be true to yourself and your views, and take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
Smith: When I was a first-year senior manager, I asked a partner what I needed to do to advance. He replied, “No one is as interested in the advancement of your career as you are. And no one knows better than you what you love to do. So find out what that is and then do everything you can to make it happen.” That advice was an epiphany for me and it changed my mindset.
Know a potential boomerang?
EY’s continued growth and investment in services like Performance Improvement, Information Technology Risk, Restructuring, Working Capital, Transaction Integration and Tax present opportunities for our alumni to return — particularly at executive levels. If you know an alum or someone else who would be a great candidate for any one of our practices, or if you want to hear more about our opportunities in these growing practices, please write to Karen Glover.