Tim, thanks for joining me today.


You’ve been US Chairman and Senior partner for just over a year and you’ve already been through a lot. I’m curious to know: What did you think this job was going to be like? And what did it actually turn out to be? How do those two things -- the expectation and the reality -- compare?

Thanks Caleb, glad to be here speaking with you. 


Having served on the leadership team for the last several years, I had an idea that the job was about serving our clients, being with our people and working with our external stakeholders. And when I reflect on the last year that is largely what I've done. The most inspiring part of the job is being with our people.     


Of course, for me, there are a couple of key priorities-- one of which has not only been to make PwC more inclusive, but also to work with other business leaders to make all of our organizations more inclusive. 


One of the things that I'm most proud of in my first year as Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC is working with my fellow CEOs to launch the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion (www.CEOAction.com).  

The CEO Action came about after having many conversations about race within PwC over the past year. When you asked your people to have these open and honest conversations, was there any initial resistance or awkwardness? How do you overcome those uncomfortable moments?

Thanks for this important question.


I started by talking to my leadership team about have open conversations about race and there was certainly apprehension among the team because the issue of race in America is so complex and full of emotions.  However, we knew that the alternative of not doing anything and having our people show up to work and pretend like nothing was happening outside the walls of PwC was not the right one. 


I am a firm believer of trust-based leadership-- meaning that people want to do the right thing if given the opportunity. I'm proud that our people had honest and open conversations on race grounded in empathy and understanding. 


One of our people summed it up best: There were more tears shed that day at PwC (as we began to understand one another) than in our 100 plus-year history.  

Moving on to some other uncomfortable topics -- Everyone was obsessed with the mix-up at the Oscars. You were very public in speaking about it and the firm taking responsibility.

Now that there's some distance from it, what did you learn about yourself and about managing a crisis like this? 

I’m a firm believer in having a north star and following it. For me, an important north star is that when you make a mistake, you own up to it. I’ve always believed that and in this case, we made a mistake and we owned up to it.

It’s clearly uncomfortable being in the spotlight for something like this, but my responsibility as the leader of an organization is to stand up in good times and in bad.

The firm was also under the spotlight in two civil trials over the past year. What’s interesting is that it’s rare to see a firm get to that stage in litigation. I'm wondering how the Taylor Bean & Whitaker and MF Global situations were different and what ultimately led the firm to change its mind and settle them?    

One of the privileges I have as Chairman and Senior Partner is that I get to travel across the country and meet with our teams in our offices across the U.S. Through my visits, I am inspired by all the little things that our teams do to deliver quality: whether it be giving feedback to the quality of management, our point of view on the appropriateness of an estimate, or our advice to an audit committee.


While I can’t comment on any specific client or case because of confidentiality, I am proud of the work that our teams do to deliver quality.

I know you have to go, so last question -- The firm announced its new partner class earlier this month and celebrated promotions last Friday. How was your own experience climbing the ladder at the firm different than it is today? And with all the talk about purpose in careers these day, how has the firm’s approach to financial rewards changed?

When I look at our world today, some see challenges and problems, but I see nothing but opportunities. 


Today’s biggest societal challenges (diversity, climate change, technology and jobs, income inequality, etc.) may seem daunting. However, having spent a significant amount of time with our new partner class and our 6,000 promotees last week, I’m confident that the generation of leadership following me is not only capable, but excited about turning these challenges into opportunities. 


While I believe in significant economic benefit to those who help solve these problems, I also believe there will be a greater reward for the positive effect they have on society.


Thank you Caleb for taking the time to ask me these questions today. 

Thanks for your time today, Tim.

You can follow Tim Ryan and the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion on Twitter.

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