Life at Deloitte

Career Journey: Russell Gong

Renaissance man. Bass guitar player. National Guard reservist.

“I don't really look at my career development as a destination—a linear path. I see it more as a portfolio. How full of rich experiences can I make that portfolio? So when the time comes, when ideas or people need action, I’m ready to roll.”

Russell's take

I’m passionate about “building things” and being “creatively resourceful.” Deloitte—in my opinion—has the best people, leadership, resources, and culture for someone like me.

International perspective

Russell was born in Singapore and raised in Virginia. And Australia, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Chile, and Pennsylvania. His father was a foreign-service officer and so the family traveled the world. Russell attended the University of Richmond where he studied political science and international development. He also took a part-time position teaching English as a second language to refugees and immigrants. Without a doubt the community connections he was exposed to early in life shaped Russell as a professional. First, by leading him to Deloitte; then by leading him to a career he loves.

When Russell first joined Deloitte Consulting LLP, he landed as an analyst. “I was offered the position and figured they would immediately leverage my international experiences in my background,” he says. Instead, Russell found himself in foreign territory of a different kind—working on a massive data management project. While he learned a lot and developed a strong interest in analytics, he says, it “wasn't what made my heart beat.”

Redesigning his career

Six months into his time at Deloitte he set about redesigning his career, even as he worked full time as an analyst. He says, “I started by writing a white paper about how to connect the supply of innovative millennials with the demand for social and entrepreneurial solutions in international communities.” He theorized it would be good for business by helping Deloitte grow its talent.

He began shopping the idea around. “I knocked on the doors of whomever I could talk to and was so encouraged by willingness and support.” It resulted in the idea to launch a fellowship program matching millennials within Deloitte to international communities in need. Through his door knocking, he and his team garnered enough support to present a business case for the idea to a senior leader. It was his first business case presentation.

“I totally botched it. I didn’t even make it beyond two minutes…” It was discouraging, but Russell was undaunted. He trusted based on all the background work he’d done that it was right for Deloitte. He refined the idea, sought out leadership advice, built a larger team, and came back to leadership with the support of 30 senior leaders. As a result of leadership support, the program was funded and launched in Guatemala.

Analytics and purpose

Today, Russell focuses his time at Deloitte between analytics and data visualization projects and the Re | Purpose Center (formerly known as D2international). “The Fellowship now has operations in Guatemala, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jordan, and Uganda and has touched the lives of thousands” he says. This year, he and his team are designing new programs for Deloitte to include opportunities for college campus recruits, international member firms, and clients.

He says his career journey taught him the value of being at a large organization. What at first can seem big and scary is really “a massive sea of resources, people who care, and networks to connect with.” He says that, yes, you work for the organization, but Deloitte also works for you. If you know what you’re passionate about and work hard for it, you can make it happen just as he did.

Russell lives up to the title of an aspiring Renaissance man. He’s producing a film based on the story of a boy from Myanmar. He plays bass guitar in his 90s cover band from the 8th grade. He is a solider in the US National Guard, a Wildland Firefighter, and makes a fine Singapore-style curry chicken from a recipe handed down by his mother. He says, “It’s to die for, man.”

Our clients are hungry for people to dream big and make it happen. Deloitte has encouraged me to do through this program and my career path. I see Deloitte, not just allowing me to be my full self, but challenging me to become my full self.

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