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Meet Colin Duncan

Faces of Deloitte Advisory is a series of true stories that explore the personal history of our practitioners, highlighting key experiences that defined their values and explaining why they do what they do. In this story, Colin shares the challenges he faced immigrating to the US, and what he does to make an impact for those around him.


“My head is held high, despite the challenges that I’ve faced. Those discouraging feelings are real. But I’ve always strived to look beyond the setbacks, focusing on the impact that I can have.”


My family always comes first. And everything I do is to make them proud. I stretch myself as far as I can to inspire them, as my dad did for me. I’m a Christian committed to helping those in need. No matter what title or position I achieve in my work, I don’t want to change who I am. I want to remain humble, and I ask everyone around me to keep me in check.

Continuing my dad’s legacy

My father is my biggest inspiration. I stand on his shoulders when I show up to work each and every day. He came to America with only $100 in his pocket and some old mechanic tools. He struggled to get situated, until he finally opened his own garage. Soon after, he had an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, an incredible setback for a 37-year-old man.

My dad has maintained a positive and uplifting attitude, never feeling sorry for himself. He finds ways to encourage and inspire other people. As I have watched him all these years, he has been consistent no matter the circumstance. I strive to be like him and set the same example for my two children.

Connecting the dots

As a boy growing up in Jamaica, I was taught that if I worked hard in school and obeyed my parents and teachers, success will follow. After my family migrated to the United States when I was 15, it took me a long time to understand the American culture. The idea that the sky is the limit and you can shape your own career aspirations—and not rely solely on the experience of your parents—was a completely new way of thinking for me.

I struggled a lot to fit in and to have confidence in myself. I used to be an introvert and stutter (less so today), so I was self-conscious about that and didn’t talk very much. Starting in high school and throughout college—even early into my career—everyone always seemed to easily navigate life and make steady progress toward the person they wanted to become. For me, I mostly felt lost not having my parents or any close friends/relatives to guide my footsteps towards my north star.

After graduating college, I went through 50 job interviews—not an exaggeration—without a single offer. And I couldn’t figure out why. I thought I had checked all the boxes. I finally talked to a mentor about my frustrations, and then it clicked: I needed to show people who I was. Everyone interviewing had the same qualifications, so I needed to open up and show them what made Colin special. I took that advice to heart and made a real effort to change my interview style, to reveal my personality and my story.

After the very next interview, I had a job offer.


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Following my north star

Because of the challenges I faced trying to navigate a new country, a new school, and finding a job, I make a real effort to help others who are struggling in a similar way like I did. That’s my north star. That’s what I’m most passionate about at work. I want be an inspiration, an advocate, and a mentor for those who find it difficult to navigate the complexities of a professional services organization as they journey toward their career aspirations.

While people may gravitate toward the vocal contributors in the room, I seek out the quiet leaders who often have great ideas but may not be comfortable speaking up. I want to help them find their voice—because I know how hard it was for me and I know they have so much to say.

Rolling up our sleeves for equality

As a black leader within Deloitte, I believe it is essential for the conversations around racial bias to continue and expand, followed by action. Some people ask me, “What can I do now? I want to do something to fix this.” I always caution them, letting them know that there is no easy fix. It is highly complicated, and we didn't just arrive at this juncture overnight...

Policies and commitment statements are great, but the broader, more difficult issue that we have to face is inspiring the hearts and minds of each other. Systemic bias is not something that can be erased overnight or through a series of short-term contributions. It is going to take a lot of work. It will require engaging in what might be uncomfortable conversations because that’s the path to promote more rich and authentic relationships.

For my part, I try to make sure my team is diverse in multiple dimensions. While I may not always get it right, it is something I think about and strive to achieve. I’ve been honored to lead diverse teams, especially those where my team are comfortable challenging status quo and bringing their points of view to help clients solve their issues in a more comprehensive way. When that happens, we are at our best and—more importantly—everyone on the team can and hopefully feel that their perspectives matter and that they are supported.


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Staying true to my core

My wife and I started a nonprofit organization in 2009, Servants without Borders. We host monthly volunteer projects to help poor communities with various needs, such as food drives, mentoring kids, or cleaning up their neighborhoods. To whom much is given, much is required….accordingly, I want to help my broader community with meaningful work that changes lives.
I’ve always strived to look beyond the setbacks in my life, focusing on the impact I can have, encouraged by the strength and perseverance I see demonstrated each day with my dad. He did so much to change the trajectory for our family, and I’m only trying to continue what he started to make an even better life for my kids—and those around me.

Because of some of the challenges I’ve faced throughout my life, I want to help bring other people along the journey—because I wish more people would have done that for me. I’ve learned that you really need to have a coalition of supporters to get where you want to go. So as much as I can, I will use the platforms that I have to be an advocate for those around me.

I consider myself blessed to be where I am today and hope to hold true to my core values through my work within and outside of Deloitte.

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Get in touch

 

Colin Duncan

Managing Director | Deloitte & Touche LLP

Colin leads and manages multiple teams delivering risk and financial management solutions for government and public services clients. This includes financial statements preparation and analysis, management of internal controls, and delivery of accounting trainings to enhance technical competencies of people he leads and the clients he supports. Beyond client delivery, Colin is an industry talent leader responsible advancing the #1 talent experience for Deloitte people.

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