Oct. 4, 2010 – The Robert H. Smith School of Business’ CEO@Smith speaker series hosted its second CEO of the academic year to a full crowd at Van Munching Hall on the University of Maryland’s campus. John Veihmeyer, chairman and CEO of Big Four public accounting firm KPMG LLP, began his presentation by saying, “I wouldn’t give this job up for anything.”
An industry veteran who has was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Magazine in 2009, Veihmeyer had no shortage of advice to share with the crowd, which included undergraduates, graduates, alumni and accounting professionals. He stated that the accounting profession is full of discontinuity at the moment, where the marketplace is “totally, absolutely global,” with very little substantive conversation taking place in global regulation framework. And while this may frustrate other firms, he saw it as an opportunity for KPMG to help companies deal with the created disconnect.
In the global marketplace, Veihmeyer says, every client wants an ethical, globally savvy partner to be assigned to their account. He urged students to participate in international experiences and to learn a language other than their native tongue, saying they’d be the most marketable once they enter the workforce. With regard to creating an ethical culture, Veihmeyer suggested that building a foundation during one’s undergraduate studies is the best bet for success, citing how community services bolsters the cultivation of ethics because “you have to learn to care about someone other than yourself.”
In another piece of career advice, Veihmeyer shared what really differentiates employees once they’re in the door of a company. Collaboration and team skills are very important in today’s business climate, as many companies have migrated away from the standard, linear problem-solution methods. He praised the Smith School’s undergraduate curriculum, saying University of Maryland graduates are one of KPMG’s largest recruitment sources because the undergraduate curriculum focuses on teamwork and collaboration between departments and specializations.
Veihmeyer touted KPMG for their customer relations strategy and for how they are viewed in the market as the firm that helps clients deal effectively with complexity – the firm’s tagline, in fact, is “Cutting through complexity.” KPMG currently employs approximately 140,000 professionals, including 7,600 partners, in 146 countries. The firm also employs the highest percentage of women (18.1 percent) out of all the Big Four firms.
CEO@Smith is a dynamic speaker series designed to connect our community of students, alumni, faculty, and staff with leading business practitioners and innovators. The interactive atmosphere blended with invaluable wisdom from top CEOs provides many exceptional opportunities throughout the year to learn from industry giants.
Each event is free and open to the public, and takes place at 5:30 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall, at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Amy M. Taylor, Office of Marketing Communications