No one was as surprised as we were when the news broke late last year that Mark Weinberger was stepping down as global chairman and CEO of EY. Adding to the mystique of his unexpected departure, our source — who helped us break the story — hinted that Weinberger’s exit was prompted in part by pressure in the wake of the #metoo movement and recent sexual harassment claims at EY. As far as we can tell, there’s nothing to that allegation, despite the firm’s continued issues with sexual harassment trouble.
Now, y’all know how much we love a good unsubstantiated rumor around here. And it would be easy to speculate wildly on why Weinberger decided to step down. It could be that the guy has been at the firm since I rocked jelly shoes, a perm, and a too-tight iron-on Snorks T-shirt (the ’80s were rough, you kids today have no idea) and deserves a break. It could be, as he alluded to in his letter to employees, that he feels pretty good about how the firm met its Vision 2020 goals and feels as though “stepping down at the beginning of our financial year 2020 seems like the appropriate moment.” Hell, for all we know it could be that he’s a huge gamer and, like me, has gotten so into Fallout 76 since its November release that he realized he simply could not balance his innumerable duties at the firm with his unquenchable desire to roam the Appalachian wasteland with nothing but a guitar sword and a hunk of rotting wolf flesh to sate his parasite-induced starvation.
I digress, got carried away for a second there. Point being, at the end of the day, the real reason Weinberger is stepping down is between him and his family. Speaking of, we have a sneaking suspicion family was a real motivator here, and in an exclusive interview with Going Concern the day the news broke last December, he confirmed those suspicions. He plans to focus on his family now that his duties to the firm have (mostly) come to an end.
As I was speaking to him last year, I remembered an article I’d written many, many years back, back when this website was still relevant. In it, I shared a story I’d read in which Weinberger talked about his commitment to his family, and used an odd example to prove it. You can relive it here, but the long and short of it is that shortly after becoming EY CEO, Weinberger was in China giving a speech to thousands of EY employees and instead of attending the reception afterward, got right on a plane back to Washington to be with his daughter for her driving test. You see, he’d promised her a year prior he wouldn’t miss it. According to him, no one remembered the speech he gave, but everyone remembered how he apologized for ducking out on the reception to be with his daughter as he’d promised. “You can have all the initiatives you want saying you can have flexibility, but until some of the real leaders make the choice to choose family, I don’t think people feel like they have real permission to do it,” he told TIME in 2014.
Shortly after telling the China story to TIME, he told them another tale — between Bed, Bath & Beyond runs, no less — about missing the World Economic Forum so he could help his daughter move into her dorm at USC.
We can extrapolate two things from these stories: A) obviously he takes his commitment to his family seriously, and B) in order to be successful in the above, sacrifices must be made. I mean, if I had to choose between having lunch with George Soros and shopping for a new faux fur throw at 20% off, I know which I’d choose. But putting family and espresso machines before business was not always a luxury Weinberger could indulge in, at least not until now.
Our original tipster told us Weinberger wasn’t leaving to pursue “another private sector job, return to government service, or academia” and our interview with him confirmed just that. Will he end up on some board somewhere helping hungry kids or vaccine-injured rescue dogs or something? Sure, it’s possible. I mean, the guy is gonna get bored as hell just sitting around hanging out with his wife and four kids all the time. But as far as we know, the plan is to spend some much-needed quality time with his family above all else. Now you know, too.
Weinberger’s departure is officially effective today, July 1, just in time for fireworks and bomb pops around the pool with the fam for Independence Day in his best white New Balance like any legit dad. We wish him well and can only hope his successor Carmine Di Sibio looks half as good in a Photoshopped pussy hat.