Connect magazine - March 2014

Shaping the vision

A conversation on Vision 2020 and leadership with Mark Weinberger, EY’s Global Chairman and CEO

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In January 2013, EY launched its Vision 2020 plan, along with a new tagline: Building a better working world. Why that tagline and what does it mean to you, personally?

Building a better working world is more than a tagline; it’s our purpose. It reflects who we are and what we do as an organization. It’s about looking beyond self-interest and engaging with the world. Every day, every EY person is part of building a better working world — for their clients, their families and their communities. I believe that everything we do — every audit, every tax return, every advisory opportunity, every interaction with a client or colleague — should make the world better than it was before.

The insights our people share and the quality services our people deliver build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. Most significantly, their efforts contribute to global and local economic stability and growth, which in turn provide opportunities to address some of the world’s major issues.

How does Vision 2020 relate to our nearly 200,000 alumni in the US and some 700,000 alumni worldwide?

Whenever people join EY, however long they stay, we want them to have an exceptional experience that lasts a lifetime. The skills they’ve learned, the global experiences they’ve gathered, the exceptional client opportunities they’ve worked on, all give them unique insights into the world and how to improve it.

Everyone leaves EY at some point — sometimes they return and sometimes they move on to new opportunities. I should know: I’ve joined EY four times over my career.

Our alumni, having gone on to achieve great things, have demonstrated how valuable their EY experience has been. From setting up their own businesses and creating jobs, to working with state agencies and governments, to helping a whole new array of clients by working in other organizations, our alumni are definitely helping to build a better working world.

When someone leaves EY, we don’t see this as the end of the relationship, but rather the beginning of the next stage. Under Vision 2020, we’re actively encouraging our alumni to stay connected to the organization and to each other by building a global alumni portal and executing a standard approach to maintaining stronger relationships with our alumni across the globe.

Vision 2020 also states our ambition to nearly double current revenues and to become a US$50b distinctive professional services firm by the year 2020. What do you mean by “distinctive”?

A distinctive professional services organization is one that has a strong brand and purpose that stakeholders strongly identify with — something that distinguishes it from its competitors. We’ve put in place a bold ambition to more than double our business by becoming a distinctive, leading professional services organization.

We aspire to become the number one brand, the most favored employer and a leader across our chosen services, and to build stronger relationships with our clients and stakeholders.

Is US$50b a truly achievable number or more of an aspiration? And where do you think that kind of growth will come from?

I’d say it’s ambitious but achievable. Getting to US$50b in revenue by FY20 requires a compound annual growth rate of about 10%, an increase in our growth rate over the past few years. But we’re making the necessary investments in new services, technology and acquisitions to enable us to reach this target.

A significant proportion of this growth will come from new services and strategic acquisitions. The rest will come from our clients, whom we’ve grouped into two categories: our Global 360 (G360) accounts and our Core accounts.

The G360 are composed of client organizations that are, or one day will be, truly global in scale and scope. These accounts require significant cross-border service delivery and an integrated approach across multiple markets. If we execute seamlessly on a global basis and make the right investments worldwide, G360 accounts will deliver significant growth for our firm.

Achieving significant growth in our Core accounts is also a key driver of EY’s growth agenda. We are taking steps to energize the Core and to better enable our partners to win in this space.

In addition to the investments we’re making in new services and acquisitions, we’re also investing US$3.8b to help make technology a competitive differentiator for our business. In Assurance we’re investing US$400m to replace our tools and tailor our methodologies to better enable the audit of large public entities, middle-market accounts and statutory accounts.

We’re also embedding data analytics across our service lines, making investments in sectors and mobility, and continuing to invest in the emerging markets.

In this edition of Connect, we’re talking to several alumni who serve as CEOs on the topic of leadership. Several years ago, USA Today named Ernst & Young LLP as a “top 5 leadership factory” because of the very high percentage of our alumni who serve in the C-Suite. What is EY doing to develop its next generation of leaders?

It starts by attracting talented, bright people to our organization. When they join, we want the experience they have here to nurture their natural talent and help develop them into our next generation of leaders.

We not only offer a wide array of technical education to develop the skills necessary to carry out their day-to-day role, we also offer a broad array of non-technical learning, which focuses on a range of personal leadership development topics, from having more authentic conversations to managing relationships and becoming better coaches.

We hold regular milestone events for people across the globe who’ve recently been promoted. In addition to offering them the opportunity to celebrate their success with their peers, these events provide people the training necessary to develop their leadership skills as they assume their new responsibilities.

Finally, critical to a person’s leadership development at EY is having the best counselor. A great counselor can see leadership talent early and develop it by helping his or her counselee to make the right career development decisions and providing honest feedback. At EY, we have tools and training specifically designed to develop great counselors across our business.

You’ve worked with two US leaders, President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. Did they have very different leadership styles?

Yes, they did. President Clinton was cerebral and wanted to be involved in all the issues. He dove into the details and wanted to make a lot of the decisions. President Bush was good at surrounding himself with different views from lots of people and then drilling into the issues by asking the right questions and then relying on that input to come to an answer.

Who were some of your leadership mentors?

One of the most inspirational leaders I’ve known is former US Senator John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri. I had the opportunity to work closely with him early in my career and what struck me about him was that, in a highly political environment where there’s strong ideology and you’re often pressured to take party positions, he was never afraid to do what he thought was right. During disputes, he excelled at finding common ground between both parties to more easily find a solution. He’s a true leader.

My dad’s also been a great mentor to me. He worked as a plumber and spent most of his life in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. When I became more successful and got loftier titles, he gave me some great advice. He said no matter where you end up in your career and no matter what title you have, you must always remember who you are and where you came from. He also taught me to value family. A great mentor never lets you forget who you are or what’s important in life.

How would you describe your leadership approach or style?

I would describe my leadership style as one that works by building strong relationships with great people, learning from them, and using what I learn to motivate others either individually or as part of high-performing teams. As a leader I try to energize the people around me and I hope it is contagious.