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Ernst & Young's Chairman & CEO James Turley Underlines the Importance of Corporate Culture

As part of NYU Stern’s CEO Series, James S. Turley, Chairman & CEO of Ernst & Young, was interviewed in October before more than 100 NYU Stern students and alumni.

Diane Brady, senior editor at Bloomberg BusinessWeek, conducted the interview, covering topics including Ernst & Young’s culture, the many challenges facing business leaders today, what the firm looks for in new hires and what the future holds for the accounting industry and profession.

With approximately 145,000 employees in 140 countries, Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services organizations in the world, offering assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

Describing the organization’s unique culture, recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” Turley highlighted Ernst & Young’s commitment to being the most global, the most diverse and the most inclusive in the profession. “Ultimately, success in business is a team game,” explained Turley. “And inclusiveness is critical in making diverse teams effective.”

In today’s competitive landscape, Turley recognized the challenges that companies face in terms of retaining top talent. And he described some of the steps that Ernst & Young is taking to both attract and retain talent, including:
Diane Brady and James Turley

  • A focus on learning and employee engagement
  • Developing a best-in-class corporate culture
  • Maintaining a global outlook and focusing on growth in both emerging markets and in the US
  • Devising the right compensation packages
  • Employee empowerment
  • Flexibility for employees to maintain a personal and professional life balance
  • Help in facilitating opportunities throughout the sector, around the world and across the country
In discussing the recruitment process, he said that Ernst & Young looks for candidates who say “yes” to opportunities and who are eager and willing to share their viewpoints. He listed humility, honesty and a client-service focus as three key characteristics for success within the organization.
Peter Henry, Diane Brady and James Turley

Turley also shared some career advice with the audience:
  • Be yourself; Work with mentors and sponsors, but do not try to be like them.
  • Find something that you love doing and do it.
  • Align yourself with an organization that is thinking about where the world is going.
Before closing, Turley identified several risks to the current economic recovery. He expressed concerns about entrepreneurs in the US “staying on the sidelines” for too long. Also, looking ahead, he stressed the importance of removing uncertainty at the policy level, so that businesses can begin to plan ahead.

The NYU Stern CEO Series presents some of the world's most successful and innovative business leaders in candid conversations with renowned business journalists, editors and television personalities.

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