The two worlds of business and politics equipped Mark Weinberger to lead EY.
The careers of many high-flying executives see them constantly shuttling between different countries. But the working life of Mark Weinberger, who was appointed EY’s global chairman and CEO earlier this year, has seen him moving back and forth between two very different worlds – those of politics and business.
After completing his studies in business and law, Weinberger initially worked with tax legislation for EY before leaving for a job with the US Senate. Two separate presidential appointments followed.
“I was asked to be chief of staff of a commission established by President Clinton, which looked into entitlement and tax reform,” Weinberger says. “I also had the honour of being appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board.”
“Then EY approached me and I became the director of the national tax department, the same office I started in many years earlier,” he says.
When George W Bush was elected president, Weinberger was asked to be the assistant secretary of the Treasury, in charge of tax policy. It seemed he was in favour whatever the political complexion of the administration. “I couldn’t say no. After that government stint, I came back to EY and have had the privilege of serving as the Americas and global tax leader, and on several internal boards and executive committees,” he recalls.
Weinberger thinks such broad experience will serve him well as he continues to settle into his position at the head of the accounting and professional services giant. “There is a significant overlap between the two roles, which is something I’m really excited about – to be able to put into practice everything I learned in such a unique position working in government,” he says.
He clearly feels he’s taken over the reins of a business very much on the up. “For the financial year ended June 30 2013, our combined global revenues were US$25.8 billion. This represents 7.7 per cent growth over the previous financial year in local-currency terms – EY’s fastest growth since 2008. All our service lines and geographies continued to grow revenues and headcount despite uneven market conditions in many parts of the world. We have 175,000 people around the world,” he says.
“And I feel the future for our sector, and our organisation, is bright. We are investing in the emerging markets, to make sure that we have resources on the ground to respond to our clients’ increasing need for services in these growing markets,” Weinberger says.
“In fiscal year 2013, our emerging markets practices had a combined revenue growth of 12 per cent, which is tied to the investments that we have made in our practices in these countries over the past decade – investments that we will increase in future years.
“We’re investing in our services as well. For example, over the next three years, we will spend US$400 million on improving our audit methodologies and tools to continue to enhance audit quality. At the same time, a major investment in technology and services – US$1.2 billion over the next three years – will deliver transformational technologies to help EY better connect with our clients,” he adds.
While Weinberger cites his father as his guiding light, he also acknowledges the influence a politician has had on his approach to work and to people.
“Early in my career, Republican Senator John Danforth taught me a lot. He was an inspirational leader who wasn’t afraid to stand up and do what he thought right, regardless of whether it would cost him votes. Moreover, he always treated people with respect and valued their input, no matter what their position or seniority. I admire him a great deal,” he says.
Weinberger believes his primary role as chairman and CEO is to promote similar values. “My most important responsibility is to set the right tone from the top so that our people have a clear sense of right and wrong, and are confident that, no matter what happens, nothing is more important than their own personal leadership and integrity.”
But without doubt, the two job titles Weinberger is most proud of are husband and father. “The thing I get the biggest kick out of is my family. I have a wife and four young kids – a daughter and three sons. Nothing brings me more happiness than my family. I’m involved in their sports; I coach my sons’ basketball team. I’m involved in their school and extracurricular activities and we do a lot of family trips. They give me incredible energy,” he says
KEEP VALUES AND STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Mark Weinberger’s principles for a successful business – and a successful life
Advance guard “The world, the business environment and our clients’ needs are changing at a remarkable speed. If we want to continue to be relevant, we need to change. It’s not just about keeping pace with change, it’s about keeping ahead of the curve.”
Walk the talk “Although every day in this job comes with a pretty long to-do list, they tend to tie back to one thing – making sure there’s no gap between the values we talk about, and those we live.”
No man – or woman – is an island “Nobody in business succeeds alone.”
Nurture your roots “My father said never forget who you are, where you come from.”
The value of values “He also taught me that the family values that you possess and pass on will be much more memorable and impactful than your title.”