Leadership and EY

Each of us knows what it means to be a leader. However, as is the case with many abstractions, we all know the truth to be different. If given an infinite list of definitions, no two people would pick the same one. Today we were given six to choose from, so there was more overlap. Even still, our group of eleven picked five of the options as the definition that stood out most to us.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” – John Quincy Adams

It is unsurprising to me that such an idealistic quote would be the one that I gravitated towards. Ideation is my third strength, but since our discussion yesterday it has become the one that I notice most in myself. It was fascinating to see which quote each classmate picked and why it spoke to them. As if to validate my belief in the minute variations between everyone, the others who chose Adams’ depiction of a leader had received a very different image. To them, it rang of charisma and the ability to bring people together and help them improve, whereas the power of a concept coursing through the hearts and minds of a people resonated with me.

That exercise filled the transitory period between morning class and our evening trip to Ernest and Young, or EY. I have never thought much about working at an accounting firm, so I had no idea what the company would be like. While I knew not to expect the cube farms depicted on television where the only alternative to grey is beige, I was blown away by how vivid and exciting they were. To me, company cultural is the linchpin that holds a job together. I went in planning to ask an assortment of questions about this pivotal topic, but before the first speaker of the day had finished, they were all answered. One by one, I heard the representatives speak about the “People Culture” with pride. Through a dedication to inclusiveness, development, and engagement, EY puts people first. They stress the importance of forming relationships with the customer instead of simply doing the work for them to form strong connections. There is a distinct atmosphere of teamwork and mutual success with all the employees that spoke, which was inspirational to feel. What fascinated me most was that employees who left to pursue other ventures maintained a relationship with EY and there were even “Alumni Events” for them to come back as part of the community. At the end of our visit, one of the speakers summed up the environment very well, “it is infinitely more important to love the people you work worth than the job you do.”

One of the core beliefs at EY is that, “Sustained – and sustainable – economic growth is only possible with a truly entrepreneurial culture.” Entrepreneurs fall under all the definitions of leadership that our class looked at earlier in the day. It is phenomenal that a firm as large as EY would put such a strong focus on the exceptionally small businesses that power our world. At this point in time, I have a hard time thinking like an entrepreneur. The primary assignment in the course is the Innovation Blitz, though, and it is the essence of entrepreneurship. With every lecture, every guest speaker, every company visit, I will grow more, until this thought process is a part of me.

It is strange to think that today was only the second full day. It feels like I have been here for weeks, if not months. This is likely due in large part to the quick bonding our group has had. In so many ways we are similar, as is made evident by the simple fact that we are part of this program. At the same time, we are so incredibly different that we each bring something completely different to the table. I hope to continue to learn more about each of my peers so that I can fully appreciate them for who they are. All I can say for certain right now is that I would not want to experience this with anyone else.