Vice Chairman and US Oil, Gas & Chemicals (OG&C) Leader
/ Managing Partner, Houston
Originally from Ohio, you studied accounting at OSU and became a CPA. What is it that drew you to Texas and the oil and gas industry?
Being raised in rural Ohio, I wanted to explore the world so decided to double major in
international studies and accounting. At the time, I thought the closest large city, Chicago, but my plans changed when I learned about the booming economy in Texas and the shortage of CPA eligible grads. I saw Houston as a great opportunity and frontier to start my post-university career. It was very appealing that I was told by recruiters that Houston was a place where anyone willing to work hard could be successful. So I knew that was the place for me. The energy industry and gas initially booming and then busting afforded me a great deal of opportunity and experience at a young age.
When I came, I initially thought I would only stay here for two years. Those two years went by, and I had fallen in love with Texas. My then future husband and I are so glad we decided to stay here, and our three grown children are proud Texans.
Next year you will celebrate 20 years at Deloitte. You’ve managed offices in Austin and San Antonio, and now Houston. During your time at Deloitte, how has your leadership style evolved and what motivates you as a leader?
Like most leaders, I have evolved a great deal during the course of my career. You have to in order to be successful. Adversity, broader experiences and being a parent have made me a stronger leader. Challenges such as navigating staffing and industry challenges in 2002, subsequent economic ups and downs, the recession, as well as the pandemic and talent challenges now, have led me to evolve to be more empathetic, a better listener, and more patient while still being action and results oriented.
Everyone has a different leadership style. While I’m never afraid to lean in and roll up my sleeves as helpful and as a role model, in this chapter of my career, I’m primarily a catalyst leader – it is my honor to develop and motivate our teams and deliver the best of my Firm to our clients and to the marketplace.
What is one attribute or trait you think has benefited you the most in your career?
Persistence and tenacity. The ability as a leader to persist and never give up is essential to making things happen. Combined with work ethic. As a leader you have to model to your team that you’re not going to give up. You keep striving to find workable solutions.
Texas seems to be attracting a lot of companies and talent to the state from other markets. Given your perspective as business leader in the Houston economy, why do you think we are seeing this trend and why is Houston good for business?
Texas is a great state for doing business. Some of it is structural; we have no personal income tax, and we have an amazing work force and favorable regulatory environment. But a key piece is Texas’ attitude towards business. Texans like business and entrepreneurship. We are welcoming to enterprise in Texas, we believe having a strong economy is critical to creating opportunity for all of us, and therefore driving the success of the state.
Houston specifically is differentiating with an incredible can-do spirit that’s focused on solving problems that matter. Two great examples include climate change and curing cancer. We are the energy capital of the world tackling the energy transition, and we have the world’s largest medical research complex with the Texas Medical Center. So, for companies and talent who want to work on big challenges, Houston is a great place to be as the most diverse US city and a true welcoming melting pot to people from all over the world.
One of TBHF’s core values is community. You chair Greater Houston Partnership, one of the most effective models for local economic development in the country. Can you tell us about your role with GHP and what you’ve learned from the experience about business and community?
I have both greatly enjoyed and learned a great deal this year being Chair of the GHP. The Greater Houston Partnership is the place for business leaders who want to influence the direction Houston is heading, for building Houston’s economy, attracting companies to Houston, and to ensure we remain a business-friendly region through our policy work.
We accomplish that through committee work to make progress on issues like education, energy transition, transportation, healthcare. My focus has been to help advance and leverage Houston’s technology renaissance and, coming out of the pandemic, Houston’s economy. We all need to be more aware of our progress and assets to be great Houston is a city that looks forward and it’s been exciting to see our economy diversify, and technology innovation come to the forefront.
In the last year or so, Houston has seen the openings of the ION, Greentown Labs, East End Maker Hub, and so many other places designed to help innovation thrive including our own new innovation center, the Deloitte Greenhouse Powered by Energy and Industrials. I think many business leaders are still unaware of the proliferation of venture capital funding that’s coming to Houston. VC funding is up over 450% in just 5 years. That combined with all these new accelerator and startup development organizations is really amazing. Entrepreneurs are coming from all over the world to launch and build their businesses in Houston. We are leading the conversation about the global energy transition to a low-carbon world, which at its core is a story of innovation. Houston has a frontier-mindset and is continuing to evolve. We’ve been helping advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and specifically focused on accelerating the growth of underrepresented businesses and racial equity in corporate executive talent pipeline.
I’m proud of how the GHP is advancing the conversation around so many issues and it’s been a real honor to lead an impact-oriented organization.
How do you define “excellence” in business? For me to achieve excellence, it means I have brought the very best of myself to achieve our Firm’s objectives and mission. In my role as a leader, that is all about developing talent and growing our practice. If I’ve done something meaningful to advance those goals, that is a successful and excellent day for me.