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Meet Carey Oven

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, Carey talks about her fiery spirit and how she manages to juggle a busy life.


 

I don’t consider myself much of a “trailblazer,” but I do fight for what I believe in. I was born three months premature, and my mom always says that the “fire in my spirit” kept me fighting to stay alive. I was the first baby in my state to be placed in an incubator, unknowingly setting the example that miracles can happen with the ingenuity and persistence of a strong team. And as far back as I can remember, I’ve tried to make the best of each day.

A childhood grounded in reality

I am the eldest of five kids. Growing up, I saw how hard my parents worked—and how much they sacrificed—to provide every opportunity they could for our large family. I will always be thankful for that. My dad worked at an auto plant and my mom was a teacher. From an early age, they instilled in me a sense of ambition and conviction to work hard and to support myself.

My dad didn’t like working in the plant, but he took on multiple shifts to provide for us. After watching my dad give up his passions to send us to good schools, how could I compromise what I wanted to do? So while my friends were dreaming of becoming an astronaut, the president, or a ninja, I was pretty much the only kid who wanted to be a business person when I grew up.

Being the oldest, I had the opportunity to support my younger siblings. Being handed the car keys when I turned 16 was empowering and gave me a sense of freedom—but also meant I was now helping drive my four younger siblings everywhere. For me, the freedom of growing up was countered with a lot of responsibility.

Carey with family
Fighting for my clients

Knowing that I wanted to work for a big accounting firm made it pretty easy to guide decisions throughout my life. I worked hard in school so I would get good grades, and I took courses that would help kickstart my career. I was always ambitious and a bit of a control freak; I remember getting a “B” in business law which felt like the end of the world at the time. After graduation, I interviewed with several big firms and got offers from all of them. But I decided to go with Deloitte because I identified so strongly with our values and culture.

While I’ve been at Deloitte longer than I care to admit, one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that my fighting spirit kicks in big time when it comes to my clients or the firm. I’ll do whatever it takes to see my clients through a challenge, and I love having a diverse team of smart and motivated people to help me.

Finding my balance and joy

I chose not to have kids until I was a partner. At one point when I was pregnant, a colleague came up to me and said “So, you are pregnant as a partner? I didn’t even know you could have kids as a partner.” I remember thinking, “Okay, we’ve got to change that culture right away!” The perception that women cannot handle powerful positions while maintaining a happy, healthy, balanced life was something that needed to change, and I was up for the job.

Twelve years down the line, having intermittent talent and firm leadership roles supported by amazing teams has given me the ability to make significant progress in shifting those perceptions. Unfortunately, a certain percentage of working women still feel that they need to make a choice between careers and kids, and I know that because I’ve felt some of it myself. So there’s still work to be done there, but I am proud of the strides our Deloitte team has made to encourage our professionals to make the best decisions for themselves and feel supported by our firm in doing so.

As someone who’s trying to balance a demanding job, a husband, 2 kids, and the occasional marathon training, things can get a little chaotic at times. Amidst that chaos, people are always surprised by my energy and enthusiasm, especially at work. But I truly am excited to be at work most days. We work too hard not to love what we do! I also recognize that I can’t possibly do everything perfectly, and that the support of my husband and family is essential to my success.

So, I truly feel that I am trying to have it all. I know everyone says you can’t have it all, but I believe that for the most part, you can. That doesn’t mean compromises aren’t made, but I’ve never let that keep me from following my passions. I think some stress in life is natural and you just learn to take a deep breath and then move on. Chocolate helps too, which is why I should be doing more marathon training.

Who knows what I’m going to do next, but I think doors will always open for people who are willing to lean in, push themselves, and bring that fighting spirit to the table.

Carey winning a medal
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Get in touch


Carey Oven

National Managing Partner | Center for Board Effectiveness

Carey is a national managing partner of Deloitte’s Center for Board Effectiveness. She leads the Center to help both corporate board members fulfill their governance-related responsibilities and aspiring board members position themselves for board service through a portfolio of innovative and immersive experiences, and eminence resources.

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