Built Upon Connections: Collaboration and the Multidisciplinary Business Model

Since Deloitte’s early years, when a busy and ambitious William Welch Deloitte took a partner to help him build his business, the organization has had a long tradition of talent acquisition that blends complementary strengths, skill sets and personalities for the benefit of its clients.


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At the pinnacle of his career, William Welch Deloitte faced a quandary. He had become the leading independent auditor of railroads in Britain. But the downside of this success was having to turn away new opportunities.

“I am so busy that I am obliged to write to him declining the business,” Deloitte lamented, speaking of one potential client. And so, during his investigation into the Great Northern Railway fraud, Deloitte took a partner, Thomas Greenwood, who had worked for another one of Deloitte’s early clients , Great Western Railway.

The collaboration was sealed on March 2, 1857. And while the two men worked closely, their correspondence shows marked differences between them. Deloitte’s letters, later partner James Kilpatrick wrote, were “occasionally abrupt,” bordering on rude, while Greenwood’s were “graced with an old-world courtesy.”

Examples of people with complementary skills taking a multifaceted approach are apparent throughout the history of the Deloitte network. One of the founders of Haskins & Sells, Charles Waldo Haskins, was a well-educated, well-traveled New Yorker. The other founder, Elijah Watt Sells, was a college dropout from Iowa.

Early Deloitte partners John George Griffiths and George Clouette also blended distinct but reciprocal capabilities. The former was described as “a complete business man,” while the latter specialized in the business of the English Midlands. Still, their expertise and dedication helped Deloitte prosper.

That commitment to capitalizing on diverse perspectives continued as Deloitte grew from an accounting firm into a multifaceted professional services provider.

Today, Deloitte continues to thrive and drive connections through its multidisciplinary business model, with audit, consulting, tax and advisory functions. As Deloitte member firms join forces in new regional combinations, they have been able to use their regional approach to create a new ecosystem of client and alliance relationships.

Thomas Greenwood
Partnership Paper

The Partners of today acknowledge, with feelings of gratitude, the loyalty and help received from the staff in the steady and widening growth of the firm’s business, its standing in the profession and in the financial and commercial life of the country.

- William, Lord Plender, 1941

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