Faces of Deloitte Advisory: Why we do what we do

Meet Carina Ruiz

Faces of Deloitte Advisory are true stories that explore the personal history of our professionals, sharing the experiences that defined their values and explaining why they do what they do. In this story, we witness the underdog story of Carina Ruiz, an Asian immigrant born under the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, on her ongoing quest to serve others well.

“This organization accepts that it’s not a perfect process making meaningful change,” Carina says. “Through evaluations, goals, and just normal business etiquette, it helps us to be better to our people and our clients, maximizing excellence in service of others. I resonate with that—it’s always been my deepest desire.”

During our interview with Deloitte & Touche LLP Partner Carina Ruiz, she displays a quirky and endearing habit of ending a sentence with the same one-word question. “Philosophy is the art of thinking, right?” “I was nine, and we went to Malacañang Palace and put flowers in the guns of soldiers, right?

“There was one guy who said to me, ‘You’re not from Stanford, you have no chance of success,’ right?” Born into the brutal reign of Ferdinand Marcos, Carina says she grew to love the role of the hungry underdog. It fit her perfectly.

“As an Asian woman and immigrant with a goofy personality, no one has ever had many expectations of me,” she says. “As a result, I was never afraid to ask stupid questions because everyone already assumed I was stupid.

“There’s some advantage in that, right?” The underdog’s greatest advantage, she confesses, is to be taken lightly. “I have been highly underestimated all my life,” she says. “Each time it would happen, I would say the same thing: We’ll see how this turns out.”

In surprising, unexpected, often hilarious ways, against long odds and more often than not, things turned out pretty well for Carina. Carina believes her rapid success drew from deep roots of a childhood in 1970s Philippines.

“My parents believed the most important things they could give us were love and an education,” Carina says. “I knew there wasn’t much more they could do, but it was enough.”

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Once Marcos was exiled, her father took a job as a medical representative and her mom started a small business. With every spare peso reserved for education, the lack of money seemed the same.

“They were so frugal,” Carina says. “I probably wore the same jeans for like 10 years, but they weren’t buying anything for themselves either; we sacrificed together to achieve what mattered.”

In her relationship with her parents, Carina traded in a different exchange: a currency of ideas. “At dinner, my parents would tell us what happened at work and ideate. They would ask, ‘What’s your opinion?’ I was like eight years old, and they really wanted to hear what I had to say.”

Growing up, Carina did not give much thought to the future, preferring the present. She remembers jumping and running in rain, and then searching for tadpoles to put into jars and watch grow, always nursing a never-ending, unstoppable curiosity.

“I taught myself to ride a bike, draw, and sing,” Carina says. “What the hell was I going to do on summer days, right?” Turns out, plenty.

Four years at the Ateneo de Manila University, working on a major in business and minors in theology and philosophy, she received one of 10 internships sponsored by a global corporation and a marketing award from a leading consumer products company.

Upon graduation, she had completed the full monty of Jesuit education. “Catholic-schooled all the way,” Carina says. “It was very clear to me. Service was going to be a big piece of what I was going to do.” While pursuing marketing as a career, Carina took a course on derivatives and it took fire in her imagination.

“I had a blast in that class. I thought, ‘Well, you know it’s an interesting way of using numbers.’ You know, for service, right?”

At the age of 24, Carina built from scratch a $100 million brokered product for a multinational bank in Manila, including an end-to-end trading system. Before leaving her job at that firm to move to California for more education, she was making $500 a month while the organization prospered. It didn’t take an accountant to know something wasn’t adding up.

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“I didn’t get into Berkeley; I didn’t get into Stanford, but I did get into Santa Clara University,” Carina laughs. “And guess what, it was a Jesuit school. Established on January 12, 1777, and I was born on January 12, 1977. So I thought, this is a sign from God. It was actually great for me, consistent with my ethics and theology. My uncle co-signed a $50,000 loan, and I began to work on entrepreneurship with a Deloitte alum.”

At 26 and needing a green card, Carina joined Deloitte. Nine months later, she was promoted to senior consultant.In 2012, elected to partner, Carina remembers her first job in her new role.

Assigned to deliver a mergers and acquisitions deal, she traveled to Alabama. During a break in meetings, it didn’t take her long to count the number of other women or people of color. She was the only one.

While on break, one of the clients leaned over and told her with a wink, “I can see you are not from around here.” Stunned silent for one of the few times in her life, she understood how different she was—an Asian woman, an immigrant who knew nothing of America other than California. How do you deal with the challenges of crossing such a wide divide?

While Carina cried in the bathroom, her business partner encouraged her to push through, and that’s exactly what she did—arranging another successful divestiture on behalf of Deloitte and their clients.

After 25 years pioneering her own leadership style and voice, Carina seeks to highlight similarities, not differences.

“I kind of had to find my way through dealing with those we disagree, knowing when to step forward or back,” Carina says. “And then in subsequent roles, I was compelled to find a way to start expressing myself.

I learned that my actions matter not just to myself, but to my organization, colleagues, and beyond. Plus, I had to be able to stand my ground and do something or I’d never be able to face my parents.”

In distilled form, principles arise from she has learned: Never speak first, listen, step up, serve well, and be impactful. In her journey, she has felt supported by Deloitte’s pursuit of excellence and investment in her as a leader, employee, and person.

“This organization accepts that it’s not a perfect process making meaningful change,” Carina says. “Through evaluations, goals, and just normal business etiquette, it helps us to be better to our people and our clients, maximizing excellence in service of others. I resonate with that—it’s always been my deepest desire.”

Get in touch

Carina Ruiz

Advisory Partner | Deloitte & Touche LLP

Carina is Deloitte LLP’s Silicon Valley managing partner and leads the Risk & Financial Advisory business’ telecom, media and entertainment (TME) industry sector. She has 25 years of experience in treasury strategy & design, finance, banking, and consulting. She leads large-scale treasury transformation initiatives that have helped clients to restructure their treasury organizations while focused on improving transactional and structural benefits.


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