Barry Salzberg, Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), spoke to students, faculty and alumni at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on April 13, 2015, at the final CEO@Smith lecture of the semester. In a conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Kudisch, assistant dean of corporate relations, Salzberg shared his insights on the challenges of managing an organization that spans continents: the global network has 47 member firms operating in more than 140 countries, with approximately 210,000 staff members.
Salzberg said his biggest challenge is creating a consistent culture across many different cultures and individual firms. “It requires a lot of walking the halls, metaphorically speaking. I have to lead by influence, rather than by having authority over our member firms,” said Salzberg. “Our brand was created over 150 years, on the shoulders of giants. But it only takes one person one day to mess that up. Creating the consistent ethical culture that will maintain the brand is a complex task.”
Culture is the key distinguishing factor among the Big Four firms, said Salzberg. “What is the company committed to? We all provide the same services with high quality and robust infrastructure, but from a people perspective and a culture perspective we are different. The feel is different.”
Deloitte’s culture has been shaped by its commitment to diversity and inclusion. “Deloitte was the first of the Big Four to have a Hispanic CEO and a woman CEO. That didn't just happen. We had an intent to create an environment in which all people can thrive,” said Salzberg. “You can never take your foot off the pedal because there is implicit bias in every workplace. We will never let up on our diversity initiatives.”
What Makes a Good CEO
Salzberg said that becoming a good CEO begins with a sense of integrity and ethical behavior. “For me it’s about doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. That’s table stakes,” said Salzberg.
“Listening skills are critical. In an organization like Deloitte where consensus-building is so important, the ability to listen, be flexible and adapt to input is really important.
“Be in the moment. Don't go into a meeting unprepared, or go into a meeting and check your iPhone. People should think that they are the most important thing in the world when they’re with you.
“If you surround yourself with “yes-people,” one of you is redundant. You should surround yourself with people who have a different perspective.”
What Millennials Want
Many organizations wonder how best to recruit, manage and develop their youngest staff members. Deloitte conducts an annual survey of millennials, said Salzberg, and has found that they want to work for companies that “have a purpose beyond profit, and whose actions on a day-to-day basis are consistent with that purpose.”
“To be attractive to mililennials, a company has to be committed to corporate responsibility -- commitment to diversity and inclusion, community – not just as a statement on the internet, but really lived out day-to-day,” said Salzberg.
Millennials, Salzberg also said, “want to be CEO the day after they join. So they want to see a diversity of experiences and assignments. They also want flexibility, maybe working differently than I work but with the same goal of producing quality output.
“Attracting and retaining millennials is all about adapting to what they want and making sure you're providing role models they can thrive on.”
Rebecca Winner, Office of Marketing Communications