Life at Deloitte
Meet Brian Kunisch
Fisherman, hunter, M&A professional
“At the end of my rotation—I did two years in the London office—we said we are going to take a few weeks off and go travel, and everyone in the London office was like, ‘You are crazy. Why are you only taking three weeks? That is not a real vacation. Why don’t you take a leave of absence and do some travelling?’ The more I thought about it the more appealing it became, so we got an around-the-world ticket from British Airways and took off for five months.” — Brian Kunisch, New York, Partner, Merger & Acquisition Transaction Services, Deloitte & Touche LLP
- Fostering a culture of collaboration
- Building the broader organization
- Intellectual curiosity is key
- Career journey
Fostering a culture of collaboration
When opportunity knocks, Brian Kunisch always answers. In Allendale, New Jersey, he grew up bussing tables in his family’s restaurant and made it onto the kitchen staff. He was among the first in the Kunisch family to attend college, landing admission to his “stretch school,” Georgetown University, by building relationships with alumni who wrote letters on his behalf. Near the end of school a family friend, Joe Welter, offered him an internship at Deloitte … “Everyone knew one of the Welters.” He took the offer, and the job that followed.
At Deloitte, opportunity continued to beat a path to Brian’s door. There was the switch from Audit to the burgeoning M&A practice in New York. Then four years later, London called. He spent two years there helping to build a Transatlantic practice. When his stint was finished, he took a five-month leave and traveled with his wife to Italy, Tanzania, South Africa, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. “As you can imagine, it was one of the best experiences of my life.”
He returned to New York, where he made Partner, and has worked ever since with private equity clients, primarily the Blackstone Group, “kicking the tires” on potential acquisitions for them. M&A teams are cross-discipline, so as the lead Partner, part of Brian’s role is “quarterbacking the entire engagement, to make sure that the other service lines are asking the right questions and delivering the right product.” Often teams include tax, strategy, risk management, technology, and more. “It changes from engagement to engagement.” That diversity is something Brian loves about his job, and he credits Deloitte for making it possible.
“Deloitte is one of the more collaborative places,” he says. It’s something he’s seen evolve and improve over his 22 years here. “I started in the Parsippany office, and quite frankly, it didn’t seem like the Parsippany partners really cared that much about how the Philadelphia partners were doing.” Today, it’s different. “We’ve moved away from the office-by-office mindset. The deal I am working on right now has a senior manager working in Atlanta and a manager sitting in Miami because they were the best fit for the project.”
Brian on building the broader organization:
“People who have worked on (the Blackstone Group team) over the years are now serving other clients. We have been able to make the team a breeding ground for talented people to develop and build the broader organization.”
Intellectual curiosity is key
Brian also heads up recruiting efforts in the M&A practice and invests a lot of his time with young professionals. “I always talk about diversity. If you want to come in as an auditor then move into Accounting or be helping out in IPOs or working on M&A, (Deloitte) is a great place to start out.” As for what he looks for in a new hire? “Intellectual curiosity.” He says he often has candidates respond to case study questions during interviews, and you can sense the person’s attitude right away: “Are you nervous, or do you grab the case study with both hands and want to know everything you can about it?” Obviously, he looks for the latter.
Outside the office, Brian seeks outdoor opportunity. He fly fishes for trout, striped bass and albacore tuna. He hunts deer and turkey in the woods behind his house. “I love the absolute silence, the peace.” It’s something he’s passing on to his three children, and chooses to live nearly an hour and half outside the city to “let my kids be outdoors people … whether that’s catching crayfish in the river or calling turkeys in the woods.” Opportunity, endless opportunity.