By Brianna Cetrulo
A professional leader, retired athlete and mother of two, Cathy Engelbert, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Deloitte — the largest professional services firm in the U.S. — inspired business students and educators at the College on Monday, April 25. The School of Business’s Women in Business sponsored Engelbert’s visit that filled the Library Auditorium with an audience that eagerly absorbed her words of wisdom.
Prior to serving as CEO, Engelbert has held leadership positions throughout her career at Deloitte. Serving as a member of the Deloitte LLP Board of Directors, she also held partner roles serving and advising pharmaceutical and multinational companies, according to Deloitte’s Website.
The CEO was recently featured as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women. She was made aware of this acknowledgment when her teenage daughter said, “Mom, you’re No. 21. You beat Taylor Swift.”
Engelbert is also the first female CEO of a Big Four accounting firm, which, in addition to the American firm Deloitte, includes British firms Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers and as well as the Dutch firm KPMG.
“I was taken aback by what a big deal this was,” Engelbert said.
The CEO attributes her success to an early foundation in leadership. While studying accounting at Lehigh University, she was a two-season athlete in varsity basketball and lacrosse.
“I have been competing since the day I was born,” Engelbert said, adding that she was one of eight children.
During her talk, Engelbert emphasized the importance of leadership in life.
“Aspire to be a leader and good things happen,” Engelbert said.
Along with leadership skills, Engelbert shared one of her tools for success. She calls it the “Three C’s.” The first “C” is “captain.” She said that it is important to be the captain of your own career and life. The second “C” stands for “coaches.” She advised the audience to surround themselves with mentors. Lastly, the third “C” represents “confidence.”
“Confidence is the biggest impediment (for) women,” Engelbert said.
Engelbert also stressed the importance of networking.
“You have to show a little aggression to make networking successful,” she said.
During the event, the CEO said she has her own version of the mantra “Work. Life. Balance.” called “Work. Life. Integration.” While following this, she was able to coach her daughter’s basketball team from the time she was in fourth to eighth grade, which evidently took place during an accountant’s busy season.
Engelbert found that it was more advantageous to be transparent with clients. She said that this has resulted in a change in the culture of the business interactions that she has participated in.
“There is a huge amount of flexibility,” Engelbert said. “We just don’t take advantage of it.”
Engelbert also noted that Deloitte does not have a quota on the number of women required to be employed by the company. However, Deloitte took on an initiative in 1993 concerning the advancement and retention of their female employees.
“My rising to CEO was an outcome of an inclusive culture,” said Engelbert, who acknowledged the success of the initiative.
During the Q&A part of the talk, senior accounting major Alyssa Blochlinger asked if there were differences in her expectations of being a CEO.
“I wish I listened more in psychology class,” Engelbert said.
She highlighted how important it is to be able to pick up on what motivates different people and the various different leadership styles.
In addition, senior accounting major Katie Padmore asked if there were any times that Engelbert struggled as a CEO.
Engelbert shared a story with the audience about a recent incident at a business round table event where she was stopped from entering the event by another woman, who told her that the dinner was for CEOs only.
Wrapping up the talk, Engelbert said that she wished that she had the opportunity to do a semester abroad during college. She said that “of all my internal time, 55 percent is spent globally.”
She also said that analytics is a necessary aspect of accounting that must be integrated into the business school.
Engelbert is proud to be a role model for women in the business field.
“We have to have this gender quake,” Engelbert said, encouraging women to enter into the field of business.