1 Mar. 2022
Women in Consulting

A woman navigating the fast-paced world of consulting

By Linda Williams

EY Canada Managing Partner, Markets and Accounts

Leading with integrity to create opportunities for our people and clients.

1 Mar. 2022
Related topics Consulting

Reflecting on a purposeful and rewarding consulting career.

In brief
  • Building a career in the fast-paced world of consulting can be a challenge when juggling multiple priorities. 
  • Through my experiences in the industry, three discoveries have helped me in my journey: savouring each new opportunity, seeking out work that aligns with my values and interests, and living fully and flexibly.
Twin mom, fitness enthusiast, business leader: a woman navigating the fast-paced world of consulting

Putting blood on the blockchain with Canadian Blood Services. Helping the country’s largest business association develop a system to connect 4,400 entrepreneurs with $95 billion in government aid. Unlocking the potential of diversity through EY’s Neurodiversity Centres of Excellence. Driving innovation campaigns with some of Canada’s most coveted brands. Rethinking how we work and engage with our people and clients. Regardless of what we’re tasked to deliver, I’m inspired to come to work each day.  

It’s an understatement to say a career in consulting is rewarding. It’s opened the door to so many new opportunities to collaborate with some of Canada’s largest organizations to deliver lasting innovation and meaningful change for businesses, people and communities. It’s given me countless occasions to help companies overcome new demands by placing people at the heart of their strategy or implement disruptive technologies that drive transformational growth.

Sound exciting? It is. And as I reflect on my journey and how I landed where I am today, I’m reminded that there are stories that have shaped my journey. Juggling being a mom of twins, a fitness enthusiast, a daughter, a wife and a business leader is not without its challenges. Here are three discoveries that have helped navigate my marathon so far.

Savour each new opportunity

My road to consulting wasn’t linear. In fact, I’ve reinvented my career nearly a dozen times. The one constant through it all is personal and professional development.

I got my start as a young, eager auditor at EY, working in various industry sectors serving organizations large and small. Auditing was a fantastic starting point to build the right muscles: unparalleled discipline and work ethic, analytical skills, pragmatic business sense, teamwork and advisory skills.

From there, I developed an interest in technology and management consulting. The possibilities for development and personal growth were endless — from relationship development to finding creative ways to solve complex problems and partnering with clients to navigate the twists and turns of projects to land a successful, energic “run through the tape.”

Over the last 25 years of my consulting career, I’ve transformed a small part of myself every time. I’ve been tested in beautiful and sometimes frightful ways. I’ve learned to adapt quickly to new challenges and think on my feet, and I’ve forged long-lasting friendships.

My takeaway: some days we feel like we’re “just doing the work.” Do yourself a favour and celebrate the small things. Take a pause at the end of the day to ask yourself: what did I learn? And savour your answers with humility and without judgment. 

Seek out work that aligns with your values and interests

I pride myself on a leadership style that dissolves hierarchies and enables teaming, collaboration and growth. I’ve been fortunate to grow with a firm that aligns with my values and puts people first, investing in their experiences and development. In 2021 alone, EY Canada invested $12m in learning programs, resulting in over 300,000 hours of completed training. We cultivate a growth mindset where people invest in themselves, exhibit creativity and work collaboratively to help push our bold ambitions forward. We engage with purpose to create value from the work we do and, very important, to make the experience rewarding, collaborative and fun for all. We build a culture where we don’t take ourselves too seriously, where laughing is encouraged and where we create impact in society through programs like EY Ripples and EY Entrepreneur Of The Year®.

A commitment to lifelong learning and growth, coupled with the chance to work with people and clients who share values that closely align to your own, makes getting up for work a pleasure. After all, the average person works 90,000 hours in their lifetime. So we better be learning and having fun!

My takeaway: what do you want your impact to be? Once you define that, find a pack to run with that aligns with your values and can elevate your career goals and aspirations. 

Live fully and flexibly

I want to acknowledge that getting to this point in my career wasn’t easy and it took a lot of hard work. Whether we like to admit it, navigating the corporate world comes with inherent hurdles and responsibilities on both the professional and personal fronts. But nothing should stand in the way of having the best possible life experience through every phase of the marathon, while avoiding the wall. For context, a marathon is 26.2 miles and the wall is generally felt at mile 20, where runners often have to make hard choices — to either run to the finish, walk or quit. In our career, the wall can come any time without the right conditioning and mindset.

This is what avoiding the wall looked like for me. I made the career choice to become a Chartered Accountant and join a Big 4 firm. This was the choice that I judged would open the most doors to me professionally. As a single professional I ran the first part of my life marathon savouring the experiences, exploring career twists and turns, learning every step of the way and having a lot of fun. In running this is called the social run, the first 10 miles of the marathon. No wall in sight.

After having my twins, I worked part time for almost three years. It was my choice to go back to work and still be present enough for my young boys. While many, including me at times, would have thought taking the time off would hinder my career, it paid dividends. It taught me to enjoy the moment, to take calculated risks, own my choices and appreciate the support the firm could offer. I came back with the energy to move mountains — and a plan to go with it. At this point, I’m closing in on mile 20. In a marathon, this is called the transition. Still no wall in sight.

In the third phase of my marathon, I faced much tougher challenges. Leading a fantastic, high-growth business through a pandemic while taking care of my ailing mother after my father passed suddenly, only to lose her a few months later. While it’s been extremely difficult, I’m grateful to be a partner in a large, caring family ready to rally when I needed it.

The last two years are a story of rapid adaptation for us all, of turning adversity into opportunity. A story where flexibility took on a new definition, where authentic leadership and emotional intelligence became the most important assets one can have. I’m now at mile 21, in the last stretch of the marathon called full focus. I’ve chosen to continue running. No wall in sight. Still having fun. Feeling at the top of my game.

My takeaway: living fully and flexibly is an everyday practice. There are life and personal choices needed to achieve the right balance — and you own each of these choices. Many women share equivalent journeys, while others are still trying to find their passion and path. Please tell your story. It could help other women avoid the wall and live their fullest life.

And if you have any doubt that consulting is a great career and one that can ebb and flow with your life rhythms, you know where to find me.

What’s the most daring leap you took to get to where you are today? Learn more about a career in consulting at www.ey.com/en_ca/consulting.


The challenge of building a successful career in consulting, while juggling multiple priorities is worth reflecting upon. It’s a journey of constant personal and professional growth and development. My life experiences as a mom of twins, a fitness enthusiast, a daughter, a wife and a business leader have led me to develop three guiding principles for my career: savouring each new opportunity, seeking out work that aligns with my values and interests, and living fully and flexibly.

About this article

By Linda Williams

EY Canada Managing Partner, Markets and Accounts

Leading with integrity to create opportunities for our people and clients.

Related topics Consulting