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Meet John Peirson

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, John discusses the early influences of his parents and grandparents, and how the importance of building trust has been infused in him throughout his life.

 

 

If there is one thing that always comes up in my life and permeates everything I do, it’s the importance of trust. Without trust, there is no relationship. It is the foundation upon which I’ve built everything. Trust is my core value and it’s what gets me through the difficult times.

A strong foundation

My childhood was anchored around my parents’ electrical and appliance store. They talked about the business every night at the dinner table. And while I didn’t think running a business was in my future (as a kid, I planned to be an electrician), my parents taught me at a very young age about a business’s most valuable currency: trust.

When you run a family business in a small town, developing trust with your customers is everything. My mom really prided herself on that. She strived to always listen and connect with her customers so she could recommend the best product to meet their needs. But she would never upsell them. She also made sure that we were always there when a customer had an urgent need—even on the weekends or after hours. Great training for a life of serving clients.

My grandpa also played a big role in my life. He passed along to me his inquisitive nature. I spent a lot of time out in the field with my grandpa—sometimes quite literally—as he met with farmers. He wanted a thorough understanding of what their crops looked like that season, so that the canning plant he worked for could plan accordingly. Because he asked so many questions, and knew which questions to ask, he was really good at his job—and got it right more often than not.

I’m sure my habit of asking a million questions was pretty frustrating to my teachers (maybe even with my clients and colleagues at Deloitte). But I think it has contributed a lot to my success over the years.

Colin with wife
Curiosity leads to innovation

While I’ve had many different roles at Deloitte, those two core values—trust and inquisitiveness—have guided me along the way.

For me, the basis of developing trust and open communication with our clients starts with asking questions. I strive to dig deep, to listen, and to understand the challenges they’re facing and what they want to achieve. Only then can my teams and I deliver on the outcomes they are looking for.

While I carry those values with me when I meet with clients today, I think it’s also critically important to ask questions at Deloitte. We shouldn’t accept the status quo, because there’s always ways we can improve. By asking tough, but fair questions, I can better understand why things are done a certain way—and help advise on what can done in the future.

Our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic have been a prime example of that. Whether it’s within Deloitte, at our clients, or even in our personal lives, we’ve all made significant changes very quickly—because we were forced to. Adapting to all of this change so rapidly demonstrates the power of what we could accomplish during more “normal” times, if we were to take advantage of every opportunity to do things differently. So, I am always looking for those chances.

Showing up for family

For me, the questions don’t end when I leave work. Having a big family and a busy job doesn’t always leave me with a lot of free time, but it’s important for me to show up when it matters most to my kids. And because I had five very different kids in the house, I want to understand what’s most important to each of them—so I ask. That way I can be there for them when it really matters.

Thankfully, exploring the outdoors has always brought my family together. We spend as much time together outdoors as we can—fishing, hiking, sitting by the lake. No takers yet on my bucket list item of driving an RV across the US to visit each national park, but hopefully I’ll be able to convince them some day!

My responsibility to improve

Even though I’ve been at Deloitte for most of my career, those potential opportunities for improvement excite me to show up every day.

It’s probably not the analogy most people would use, but I like to compare my career to a game of Chutes and Ladders. It wasn’t always just a straight line up—and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I never had an end-goal in mind. I’ve always been more focused on finding new opportunities that I could learn from.

I’m just one person in this organization, but I have an opportunity to make a difference for our people and clients. Deloitte has been around for a long time—and will be after I retire—so I feel a responsibility to give more back to the organization than I take out of it.

There have definitely been challenges along the way, but like that game of Chutes and Ladders, it wouldn’t be interesting if I was just on a straight path with no downs—and no opportunities to go up.

Colin with family
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John Peirson

CEO | Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory

John is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory and has held multiple leadership roles across the firm. As Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory’s current CEO, John leads more than 15,000 professionals who help organizations navigate a variety of risks, embrace complexity, and accelerate performance. He also is a member of the US Executive Committee and US Management Committee.

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