Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert Enjoys a Commanding Lead Among the Big Four

Chief Executive’s J.P. Donlon recently caught up with Engelbert in her Parsippany, New Jersey office.

Q: What is your vision for Deloitte?
“In the U.S., we serve over 80 percent of the Fortune 500, in some capacity, in one of our businesses. My vision is to maintain that client-centricity, but since we also see how these companies are evolving, to invest in people and innovation. So we’ll hire over 24,000 people over just the next year to serve our clients. We’ll also double our investment in innovation spend over the next three years. This is innovation in digital, cloud, 3D, cyber, artificial intelligence and analytics. There’s so much change going on with the way companies are thinking of marketing themselves. We’re well positioned because all our businesses serve those niches. Our vision is to differentiate ourselves in how we do this.”

Q: Tell us about the innovation categories and about what each specifically means to you.
A: “When you think about cloud, and about the traditional way that our technology practice operates around big ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems that companies have put in, it represents a huge change in the way companies operate. We are trying to evolve in a similar way. We look at the way companies are marketing themselves. Is everything going to be conducted through one’s smartphone now, rather than traditional advertising or media? The ecosystem of the digital economy is evolving. We intend to partner with companies and form alliances and collaborations in this ecosystem of emerging digital communication.

“The ecosystem of the digital economy is evolving. We intend to partner with companies and form alliances and collaborations in this ecosystem of emerging digital communication.”

“Cyber is a key area for us. Cyber conjures high-profile breaches, but for us it’s about methodology. Is it vigilant, resilient and secure? Many companies don’t know whether they have had a major breach into key systems. I was at a client the other day where they were talking about a credit card file breach being worth $1 per record, whereas healthcare records are worth $10 each. Looking at how different industries are being targeted for cyber [theft] is an important part of the way we look at cyber. Understanding how resilient you are once you are breached is an important capability and an important emerging business for us, as well as important methodology for ourselves.

“We’re also examining the impact of such things as 3D and wearables. One of my partners tells a story about how he was able to print out a Barbie house for his five-year-old daughter on a 3D printer and how different things have become when you can print out a 3D car and other things. So 3D is something we’re looking at too, because it represents a different delivery mechanism to the consumer. Then there’s analytics. Like everyone, we’re investing in analytics and how they can be used in business. We want to help our clients use big data to drive their strategy. We are keenly listening to clients who are successfully using this as an enabler. In the process, we are refashioning our services to help them.”

Q: Much of this sounds like it’s coming from the consulting side of Deloitte.
A: “Yes, but our innovation is across our businesses. Believe it or not, in the audit and tax traditional businesses, we’re innovating around the use of artificial intelligence.”