EY global chairmen:

Celebrating a legacy of leadership

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Alumni coming together for an event at New York City’s magnificent Gotham Hall this past May witnessed a unique moment in the annals of EY. Officially, it was a gathering of former partners and senior executive alumni from the metro New York area. But historically, it was much more significant.

Attending this special event were Jim Turley, who retired as EY’s Global Chairman and CEO this past June; Mark Weinberger, who succeeded Jim on July 1; and three of our four living past chairs: Phil Laskawy, William Gladstone and Bill Kanaga. Past Chairman Ray Groves was, regrettably, unable to attend.

Under their leadership, EY has evolved from two separate organizations with fewer than 40,000 people combined to become a global professional services powerhouse with 167,000 people in member firms in 150 countries and 728 offices. Since 1989, when Ray Groves and William Gladstone shook hands on the historic agreement to merge their respective organizations, Ernst & Young LLP has more than doubled in size in terms of number of people, while revenues have increased nearly six-fold.

The evening was also memorable in that it was one of the few times in EY history that we’ve had as many EY global chairmen — past, present and (at the time) future — in one place at one time. It was truly a celebration of a legacy of leadership.

Jim Turley: the experience of a lifetime

While ostensibly to recognize EY’s outgoing, incoming and past global chairmen, the focus of the event quickly shifted to our alumni. Speaking to more than 350 alumni attending, Jim Turley first expressed gratitude to his predecessor chairmen and then to all alumni. “Thank you,” he said, “for building the wonderful organization I’ve had privilege of leading; for training me and the current crop of leaders, partners and people; and for cultivating the culture so central to who we are.”

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In describing the opportunity to lead EY for the past 12 years, Turley called it his “ultimate honor — very humbling — and a simply incredible experience.” Turley told the group there are several things he’s looking forward to in retirement. One of them, he joked, is not spending, on average, 250 nights a year in hotel rooms. He also said he looks forward to having the time to “really see the sights” at some of the hundreds of fascinating places around the world he’s visited on EY business.

As to his future plans, Turley shared that a lot of people have been reaching out, “asking me to do this or that.” This includes serving on a number of corporate boards and as the CEO of a major public company. Turley notes he received some sage advice from a fellow CEO, who advised Turley to put the word “retirement” out of his vocabulary and to view life as if he were just turning a page. “He challenged me to ask myself how I want the next chapter to read — as a single opportunity or as a portfolio of activity.”

EY- Jim Turley image

Based on that counsel, Turley told the audience he sees the next chapter of his life, at least for now, “following the path of many of you, serving on some corporate boards, including a number of not-for-profits, and giving back to community.”

Paying special tribute to Ray Groves, who could not attend, Turley reported that he and Bill Gladstone recently visited Groves at his home. Turley recounted a delightful conversation among the three and assured the audience that, “Mentally, Ray is still sharper than any of us in the room.”

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Before leaving the stage, Turley shared two important lessons he learned from the partners during his 12 years as Global Chairman and CEO. “First,” he said, “I’ve learned that the best wisdom you will hear almost always comes from the people who are closest to our clients. And second, never forget that the partners and people of EY are not working for you — you are working for them.”

Mark Weinberger: extending the vision

EY is very proud of the number of people who leave the organization and eventually return: “boomerangs,” as they are commonly called. Still, many people are surprised to learn that Mark Weinberger, our new Global Chairman and CEO, joined Ernst & Young LLP on four occasions. In fact, Laskawy and Turley both hired Weinberger — twice each.

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Weinberger said the times he spent outside of EY were critical to enriching his perspective. This includes stints as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax under George W. Bush and as Chief of Staff of President Bill Clinton’s Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform.

His reason for returning, however, has always been the same: “I’ve come to appreciate that there are many great organizations out there. However, I honestly believe there’s no better place that is as good a fit for me as EY,” he said.

Weinberger — just as Turley did — credits our alumni with “creating something special” at EY and with positioning the organization to achieve its Vision 2020, which includes the “very ambitious goal” of doubling revenues over the next seven years. “We are poised extremely well to accomplish this because of the deep roots you helped to cultivate — with our clients, our reputation and our regulators,” Weinberger told the audience.

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Weinberger explained that a core component of Vision 2020 is EY’s new purpose (and tagline): Building a better working world. While this purpose has “always been a part of who we are,” Weinberger noted that, as EY moves forward, “we will be much more intentional about advocating a building-a-better-working-world mindset among our people, clients, regulators and communities.” He invited and encouraged all alumni to learn more about Vision 2020 and Building a better working world by visiting www.ey.com. The site features a short video of Weinberger describing what “building a better working world” means to him personally and for the future of EY.

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Weinberger closed by acknowledging that EY today is a “very different place” from when many of our alumni were here. And he predicts things will likely look a good bit different 10 years from now. However, he pledged that our culture and our values — two things that our alumni have ingrained deeply into our organization, and that contribute so richly to the legacy of leadership at EY — will never change.

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(Above, left to right) Newly retired EY Global Chairman and CEO Jim Turley, retired Chairmen William Gladstone and Phil Laskawy, Carlo’s Bakery chefs Mauro Casano and Buddy Valastro, Mark Weinberger (Global Chairman and CEO, in back), Rao’s Restaurant owner Frankie Pellegrino (in front of Mark), Michael DeStefano (Alumni Lead Partner, Northeast and FSO, in front), retired Chairman Bill Kanaga and celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto.


Phil Laskawy

Ernst & Young LLP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 1994–2001

Embracing the spirit of partnership, Phil completed the successful integration of Ernst & Young LLP while doubling the firm’s revenues and positioning it as the Fortune 1000 audit market share leader during his tenure. While Chairman, he established Ernst & Young LLP offices for the recruiting and retention of women and minorities — both industry firsts. Since retiring from Ernst & Young LLP in 2001, Laskawy has served on the Board of Directors at General Motors, Henry Schein, Loews Corporation and Lazard. In 2008, he was requested by the Department of the Treasury to serve as the Non-Executive Chairman of Fannie Mae when it was put into conservatorship. He also previously served as Chairman of the Board of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, which in 2002 received the National Medal of Arts and is recognized as one of America’s most important cultural ambassadors.

Ray Groves

Ernst & Whinney Chief Executive Officer, 1977–89
Ernst & Young LLP Co-Chief Executive Officer, 1989–91
Ernst & Young LLP Chairman, 1991–94

Through his vision and dedication, Ray Groves helped lead the firm through the historic merger that created Ernst & Young LLP in 1989. Reflecting on that historic moment, Groves notes that a key factor in the success of the merger was the mutual respect and trust between himself and William Gladstone, Arthur Young’s Chairman at the time. Since retiring from Ernst & Young LLP, Groves has served on a number of boards, including those of The Gillette Company, Boston Scientific, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Overstock and Legg Mason Merchant Banking. He also previously served as Ombudsman for Standard & Poor’s. Seeing it as a way to give back to the community, Groves has always taken an interest in evaluating technology investments that can improve health care.

William Gladstone

Arthur Young Chairman, 1985–89
Ernst & Young LLP Co-Chief Executive Officer, 1989–91

Sensing change on the horizon, William Gladstone was the co-architect and selfless co-leader of the 1989 merger creating Ernst & Young LLP. After meeting in his living room in March 1989, Gladstone and Ray Groves (who at the time was Chairman of Ernst & Whinney) shook hands — agreeing to take further steps to explore combining their respective firms. Since retiring, Gladstone, a die-hard sports fan, has served on the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He is also principal owner and president of the Troy, New York-based Tri-City ValleyCats, Inc., which operates a Class A Minor League team affiliated with the Houston Astros in the New York-Penn League. He is an avid collector of baseball artifacts, paintings and folk art.

Bill Kanaga

Arthur Young Co-Chief Executive Officer, 1972–77
Arthur Young Chairman, 1977–85

A lifelong advocate for raising accounting profession standards, Bill Kanaga’s unrelenting focus on quality remains a cornerstone of EY’s values. Throughout his career, he worked with a number of professional organizations focused on improving standards on a global basis, including serving on the International Accounting Standards Committee at the AICPA. After retiring as Chairman of Arthur Young & Co. in 1985, he served for a number of years on the Board of Directors at McDonnell Douglas Corporation. He was also previously appointed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he served as Chairman in the late 1980s, and was involved with the Business Council for the United Nations, serving as Vice Chairman.