Communications teams at accounting firms, particularly the Big 4, have a difficult job. And for the most part, they're nice people. I've talked to plenty of them. NO! I'm being serious. They work for private companies that are notoriously secretive, newly regulated, but still have come under heavy scrutiny as capital market servants, thus, leading nosy reporters and bloggers to ask all kinds of questions whose answers are best not revealed. The job of these spinmeisters is to deflect/ignore the bad news (usually around failed audits) and to find opportunities for their sharpest professionals to provide quotable quotes in the most prestigious publications.
For whatever reason, it's abundantly clear that Deloitte's PR team is running on all cylinders. They're quite good at declining comment (or simply not returning calls and emails) to every newswire reporter or blogger that calls them up when there's bad news and they seem have no problem finding publications that want to sit down with a CEO to hear their recycled thoughts on the business of accounting that is ubiquitous throughout the very little coverage that actually exists. Don't believe me? Here's Global CEO Barry Salzberg talking to the New York Times. Here's Salzberg talking to Reuters. Here's U.S. CEO Joe Echevarria talking to the Wall Street Journal. Here's Joe E. talking to Reuters. You get the pic. All these on-the-record conversations with nothing of any real consequence being discussed but Barry and Joe are getting their faces out there and telling the story that the PR team has teed up for them.
Today in the continuing Deloitte PR offensive, we have a relative unknown being offered. Deborah DeHaas is a Vice Chairman and Central Region Managing Partner. Impressive, right? John Carpenter interviewed her for the Chicago Tribune and at first, you almost sense that Carpenter knows what he's getting himself into:
Deborah DeHaas says a company is nothing without integrity, and that people are its most valued asset. She says that difficult challenges and a sense of obligation to the community have shaped her outlook and leadership style. Boilerplate stuff, right? [YEP!] The kind of pronouncements you find on every management bio on every corporate website. But there's an extra measure of intensity when DeHaas says those words.
When asked about Andersen, DeHaas, now vice chairman and central region managing partner of Deloitte LLP and one of Chicago's most visible executives, likes to talk not about the Enron scandal but about the neighbors who showed up when the house burned down."What was incredibly inspiring here in Chicago was the support that we had from business and government leaders to help find places for our people," she said. "We had about 5,000 Andersen people in Chicago. I remember Mayor Daley having a press conference with a bunch of leaders, saying: 'The people in Chicago had nothing to do with the issues that Andersen was facing. These are great people. Let's find jobs for them, because this would be a tragedy, to lose this talent from Chicago.' That was really quite an amazing experience."
Of the current climate in general, DeHaas said: "Perhaps at no time has our role been more important —thinking about the investor, that they have good information to make decisions."
DeHaas' thinking on the question of work-life balance has evolved over the years. Indeed, she prefers other metaphors. Speaking to a group of about 100 female college students at a recent Deloitte Women's Leadership Seminar, she said she sees her life less like a scale and more like a tapestry. "The balance concept to me means they're kind of separate from each other," she said. "What I've thought about is how do you integrate them? How do you weave them together?"
Anyone else nauseas yet? And you didn't even read the whole thing.