Life at Deloitte

Having your voice heard as a partner and as a mother

All over the world, Deloitte leaders are committing to creating an organization where everyone has equal opportunity to grow, develop, succeed and be their truest selves. It's one thing to champion diversity, inclusion and gender representation, but it's another to live it. Two partners are doing just that.

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You don't have to feel guilty to be a mother at Deloitte

Karin Hodson, Managing Partner, Financial Advisory, Deloitte Africa has many achievements under her belt: She made partner at age 31, led Deloitte Africa's then newly formed Transaction Services team in achieving 20% CAGR over the past 10 years, and became the third woman to be appointed to the Deloitte Africa member firm Executive Committee.

As a mother to eight-year-old twins, Karin is all too familiar with the struggles of balancing work and life. "Sometimes it's just a matter of surviving each day. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but it is important to keep a long-term view, as work ebbs and flows, and one can become overwhelmed during a high-demand phase," says Karin.

To working mothers, Karin recommends easing up on the feelings of guilt. "Children are flexible and good quality mommy time on the weekends, during school lifts, and an hour before bedtime seem to be working for mine." She also believes a changing work culture, one in which women leaders set the example by working flexibly will encourage others to continue to pursue their careers while raising a family.

With women in fewer leadership roles, it's not surprising Karin has often found herself as the only woman in the room. "I was in a meeting two weeks ago where I was the only woman around a large table of about 20 advisors, lawyers, clients, and targets. As the only woman, it is important to participate. It is often difficult to make yourself heard, so ensure you have a slot on the agenda that gives you the opportunity to speak."

To cultivate the next generation of women leaders, Karin believes it starts with our current pool of women. "I started in Deloitte Africa’s Transaction Services group 11 years ago, and today our team has a female leader, 50% female partners, and 43% female staff complement. “Actively seeking out female role models and elevating them into leadership positions will inspire other women and set the tone for the next generation.”

Taking risks pay off for career, family and wellbeing

As Chief Financial Officer of Deloitte (US) Risk and Financial Advisory Services (RFA) and a principal (non-CPA partner) specializing in the Global Consumer & Industrial Products industries, Mo Reynolds is used to being the only woman at the table. The most recent time was in the UK during the orals portion of a client-proposal where she walked into a room and realized she was one woman in a group of 15 men.

"It's noticeable for the first minute or so, but I've gotten comfortable with it," says Mo. "Even though I'm different than everyone else, I know that I'm there for a reason and have value to add."

Mo has always been a driver and knew she wanted to be an equity partner at Deloitte early on in her professional services career, having joined Deloitte in 2004. In her previous role, she was on the track to be promoted to manager; however, Deloitte wanted to bring her in as a senior. Mo reflects on her decision, "In hindsight, I'm really glad I took the senior role, as I was working at a different firm and in a different area so there was a bit of a learning curve."

A month into her role, she found out she was pregnant. While not the ideal timing given she just started a new job at a new organization, she learned about Deloitte's flexible work arrangements through one of her mentors, Cathy Levatino, a Deloitte US Audit & Assurance partner, and came back after maternity leave at a 70% schedule. After a year, she came back full-time and was soon after promoted to manager, then senior manager, and then made partner in 2012.

Mo credits her network and opportunities to helping her achieve partner, "From the beginning, I networked a lot and asked for opportunities. Also, my mentor Frank Milano (partner, Deloitte US Risk and Financial Advisory, saw my potential and helped push me. He never ruled out opportunities. Even though I had two young kids, he would still put opportunities in front of me—no matter how challenging—and let me decide."

Despite a hectic schedule, Mo blocks two hours every morning so that she can put her boys on the bus, check email and focus on her well-being and she’s also focused on getting a good night's sleep when on the road. One of her ways to de-stress came as a surprise: "I lost a bet with my son Eli and had to go to Crossfit for a month," says Mo. "I was intimidated to go but surprised myself by really enjoying it. I continue to do it to this day."

For women aspiring to make partner, Mo believes your network plays a critical role. "Reach out to people you look up to and ask them if there are projects that they are working on where they could use help. Offer to make their life easier."

"Opportunities come to you quietly, and half the time you may want to so no and run, but these are the ones you should say yes to. It's amazing what happens when you push outside your comfort zone—that's when you truly experience the development, confidence and learning that comes."

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