Partner and Chief Internal Auditor, KPMG LLP
What do you consider your greatest strength, and how do you think it benefits your business?
I think my greatest strength is my ability to stay calm in any situation. In my current role as Chief Internal Auditor for KPMG, I deal with issues that are critical to our leadership and Board of Directors. It is important for me to methodically assess situations as they arise and determine the appropriate course of action. By remaining cool and collected under pressure, I give those who work with me confidence and peace of mind that the situation is being appropriately handled and the rational course of action is being taken.
Who inspires you? What did they motivate you to achieve or accomplish?
My father, who recently passed away, continues to inspire me each day. My dad was a self-made man who didn’t have the advantages that higher education provides. He entered the U.S. Navy at the age of 16 (yes 16!) and married my mother three years later. My father taught me the importance of hard work and consistency. After six years in the Navy, he entered the civilian world and was employed by the same company for more than 40 years. I can’t recall a day when my dad called in sick; he was always focused on meeting his responsibilities. His work ethic and loyalty to his job have helped inspire my 25-year career at KPMG.
How do you motivate others?
One of the most important things I do to motivate others is to lead by example. I cannot expect people to behave in a way that I do not consistently demonstrate. In addition, I find providing specific guidance on ways an individual can improve, helps to motivate him or her. In mentoring other professionals, I like to solicit specific input on what constitutes success for them, so we can both be equally invested in the outcome.
What do you think is the greatest issue or dilemma facing the African American community today?
I personally believe the biggest issue facing the African American community is the instability of the family unit. Obviously, there are a number of people who have become successful without a stable family unit. However, I believe those individuals are naturally very highly motivated and laser-focused on achieving their goals. I think that a strong family unit would help a larger percentage of people feel confident and motivated to be the best people they could be.
How do you give back to the African American community?
I give back to the African American community in various ways, including professionally. I currently serve as one of the co-partners in charge of KPMG’s African American Network, which is responsible for improving the work experience of all the African Americans at KPMG. Its primary goals are retention, recruitment, and advancement. My co-partner and I are responsible for leading this effort and ensuring our network members feel that KPMG is a “Great Place to Work.”
This role allows me to serve on the firm’s Diversity Advisory Board (DAB), which comprises my peers who lead the other six diversity networks and is co-chaired by KPMG Chairman and CEO John Veihmeyer and National Managing Partner of Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Kathy Hannan. The DAB plays a critical role in affirming the value proposition that diverse professionals can achieve their career goals at KPMG. It is exciting to help shape the path that KPMG takes for diversity and inclusion.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned in the course of your career?
The most important lesson I have learned in the course of my career is to value constructive feedback as much as praise. Meaningful constructive feedback is something that can help you improve and advance. I found it important to remember the person providing me with their perspective was invested in my career growth, since they were making time to assess my skill set and provide steps for improvement.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her career?
The best advice I could give someone just starting his or her career is to know that your career is personal, and only you can shape the direction and form it takes. Unlike a job, which can be given to you or taken away, your career is yours to nurture and develop. In building it, I would recommend taking every opportunity presented to you, be it attending training or speaking in front of a group of colleagues, and soaking up the experience and learning from it. You should seek out every opportunity to deepen your business acumen to complement a strong portfolio of essential skills that position you as a valuable asset to your firm.
What is your favorite quote, and why?
My favorite quote is by Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
I like this quote so much because it is true of every aspect of life. I believe that to be successful, you need a plan of what success looks like to you and how you are going to achieve it. I think about this quote as I tackle a complex project at work, but I also think about it when I try to convince my wife where we should go on summer vacation. She must also have this quote in mind, as she usually wins.