Life at Deloitte
Leading the way with groundbreaking change
Black History Month
In celebration of Black History Month, we sat down with Tamika Tremaglio—who is the Greater Washington market leader for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP—to learn more about her career journey and lessons she has learned along the way
Please share a bit about your background, your influences and how those have impacted you.
I grew up in modest and challenging circumstances, which drove my mother to want me to succeed. My mother frequently told me that "doing what everyone else is doing is not enough" and that I needed to go above and beyond expectations.
And so I differentiated myself. I wanted to go to law school, but I knew that 25% of professionals in Washington, D.C. were lawyers, so I had to find a way to stand out. I was passionate about business, so I decided to pursue a JD and MBA concurrently at the University of Maryland School of Law and the University of Baltimore School of Business, respectively, even though that hadn’t been done before. I was one of the first at the University of MD School of Law to earn a joint JD/MBA degree.
Also, in school and early on in my career, I was often the only African-American. I was one of only two African-Americans in my high school class and I was one of the first African-American managing directors at Huron Consulting Group, where, at 32, I was the youngest partner and the only person of color. So there have been times when I have had to pave my way, which also means being a role model for others.
What do you think makes a strong leader?
When I was growing up, my father often reminded me that no matter where you go in life, you can never forget where you came from and that it’s critical to pull other people up with you as well as serve as a role model to them. I feel really passionate about making sure other people can follow in your footsteps and that you’re bringing them along — that you’re making sure they get credit for their work and are putting them in positions that will give them exposure. It’s also very important for leaders to be role models and demonstrate behaviors they want others to emulate.
What do you look for in a role model?
Although it’s wonderful to have role models and mentors that look, talk and act like you, it’s also critical to learn from people that are very different than you. Some of my greatest role models have been people that don’t look like me. It’s important to consider all sources from a diverse standpoint — for me that means it’s not just women, it’s not just women of color, but that it’s a lot of different people who influence you, the decisions you make and the steps you take in your career. I have my own personal board of advisors and I benefit from their guidance in part because they are a diverse group with a lot of different perspectives. I also benefit significantly from the extensive support of a spouse who continues to push me beyond what I had even envisioned for myself through his encouragement and tireless commitment to my success. He inspires me to excel in my career, at home and in my community.
What advice do you have for junior practitioners in terms of their career development and advancement?
Look for a diverse mix of mentors who can help guide you and find a sponsor who will pound the table for you. Keep in mind also that in any relationship there has to be a give and take. So it can’t be all about what you’re receiving from them, but also what you can give them … what you can expose them to as well. Because then they become more vested in your success.
Also, I believe it’s important to be amazing — not just good — and to find something you are passionate about and embrace it. When you’re excited about what you’re doing, it makes it easier to be amazing.
"Some of my greatest role models have been people that don’t look like me. It’s important to consider all sources from a diverse standpoint — for me that means it’s not just women, it’s not just women of color, but that it’s a lot of different people who influence you, the decisions you make and the steps you take in your career."
- Tamika Tremaglio
Walk in someone else’s shoes
Deloitte Consulting LLP principal Greg Pellegrino got involved in the Black Employees Network & Allies (BEN) Business Resource Group (BRG) because he was very interested in the economics of inclusion and saw it as a great learning opportunity.
"When I was asked to be the partner champion for the New England BEN chapter, I thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up to learn more about what we’re doing in inclusion and the challenges we and our clients face," he said.
"It was also a chance to walk in other people’s shoes and get their perspectives," added Greg, who is now the principal champion for the BEN Washington, D.C. chapter. "To me the BRGs are about getting exposure to groups not only that you may share an affinity with but also others that you aren’t as close to. It’s a way to develop relationships, get to know what’s unique about other groups of people culturally and get to know their points of view."
"I regularly advise junior practitioners that to be a successful leader, you have to be great at inclusion. And a big part of that is understanding others’ perspectives."
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