Life at Deloitte
New deloittee: Jo Iwasaki
Risk Advisory, Corporate governance and sustainability services
Jo Iwasaki joined Deloitte to help our clients to understand the importance of corporate governance and risk. Jo has wide expertise within corporate sustainability and ESG-related issues, as well as in audit and assurance.
What is your background?
I trained to become a charted accountant in England (the equivalent of a KHT in Finland) after studying politics. For years, I worked in tax compliance and advisory and as financial auditor. From there, I specialised in leading and developing a wider range of assurance services. For the past years, I have been working with promoting corporate governance though leadership and good practice development.
Since I came to Finland in 2019, I have been working in sustainability reporting and implementation – helping my then-employer to narrate their initiatives and aspirations in matters related to corporate responsibility and developing networks on their behalf. The next career step landed me at Deloitte in autumn 2020.
Why did you choose Deloitte?
I knew people who worked here at Deloitte, and they told me about the company culture. Deloitte encourages individuals’ initiatives and has great respect for people – everyone I have met seems to genuinely enjoy working here. During my recruitment process I also met area experts who are outstanding professionals.
What will you do in your new role?
Governance affects all aspects of a company. I am very interested in working in projects related to ESG (environment, society and governance) and corporate responsibility because these are exactly the areas in which the most senior leadership need to be involved if the company wants to be more robust and sustainable in the dynamic environment of today. My role is to emphasise that perspective and assist in getting these people involved as they set their strategy and corporate purpose. Interestingly, governance is highlighted as an area that is difficult to assess; I’m here to help our clients, whether it is companies or those who are making investment decisions.
I have also been working on sustainability assurance. Well-prepared sustainability information, used in tandem with financial information, tells you a lot about the company. For that information to be trustworthy, as much as checking the numbers and data, we need to understand the context and how individual information is connected to the rest of the information so that readers can get the holistic picture of the company. I really enjoy it.
Finally, I work on corporate governance/boardroom research and programmes as a member of the Deloitte Global team. As we face up to the world altered by the pandemic, senior leadership of businesses need to tackle challenges beyond financial performance and position – how a business can be fair, accountable and be part of society. These have been topics for some time, but the pandemic brought the pre-existing tensions to the surface. People will look at leadership for strategic focus but also affirmation as to why the business should exist in the first place.
What do you expect most from your new role?
It’s very important for me that my work is diverse and practical. I enjoy learning and thinking, and I also want to have interactions with people within and beyond the firm. I enjoy meeting people – they inspire me and support or challenge what I have learnt both in theory and also from past experiences.
What is happening in your field now that is exceptionally interesting?
Risk and the role of the board of directors. Each time when a big event happens in our society, corporate leadership has a major challenge of addressing it and understanding the web of implications for their company. After COVID-19, we can be certain that there will be soon a new major challenge. It is one of our jobs to remind businesses of the importance of building their risk management structure to be agile. We can’t prepare for everything, so what matters is to have a structure that is highly adaptive to today’s changing environment.
Another topic of interest is the debate over the role of the board of directors in corporate governance in Europe and globally. Today, there is an expectation that setting the long-time visions and purpose of a company firmly rests with the board of directors. This is a big responsibility, and the board needs to see their task in a wide environment, considering ESG issues alongside financial information. There has been a consultation in the EU recently, and I anticipate more developments happening in the very near future.
- How do you maintain your expertise? I update myself with specialist sources for policy and academic documents, newspapers and social media, filtering noises but keeping a mental note of them because they are part of the public discourse. I try to read three or four items of web news from different countries daily and more at weekends. Things that are happening far away will have some effect on us sooner or later.
- How do you take care of your well-being? I do martial arts (e.g. karate, Brazilian jujutsu – but not now due to COVID-19) and enjoy long walks. I enjoy studying Finnish and I watch some Finnish TV series for that.
- Your passion: Those mentioned above – and foraging (Finland is great for that!).
- What don’t readers know about Jo? I’m into vintage clothing and I speak about 5 languages (some have become very rusty). I’m still learning how to dress properly for Finnish winter – I’ve only learnt to wear a woollen hat this winter, after having developed earaches.