Last week Jim Turley, the CEO of Ernst and Young, came and spoke as part of my beloved Business Council’s VIP: Distinguished speaker series. It ended up that McCombs wanted someone on council to blog about it for their site, and guess who got the honor — yours truly! Check it outttttttttttttt.
Ernst & Young CEO Jim Turley spoke candidly with a crowd of over 150 students March 22 as part of the Undergraduate Business Council’s VIP Distinguished Speaker Series. McCombs freshman Melissa Dunn attended the talk and shared her observations below.
Turley opened his presentation with a discussion about Lehman Brothers and the recent report that showed Ernst and Young may have committed malpractice as Lehman’s accounting firm. Turley suggested that last week’s media storm was a “reflection of anger out there in society.” However, he emphasized that he was “absolutely confident” that Ernst & Young did the right things and he stands by every action his company has taken throughout this situation.
Turley then moved on to the central focus of his speech: the reality of what is happening in the business world today, as he sees it. He stressed the importance of two key factors in recovery: the entrepreneurial spirit and the need to constantly be learning. “Entrepreneurs will be the spirit that brings us out of the recession,” Turley declared. He said the vision entrepreneurs have comes from courage and persistence, which are invaluable during these tough economic times.
When the floor was opened up for questions from the students, Turley touched on topics that span the gambit of his knowledge, insights and industry. From providing suggestions for which skills students should foster (an open view of the world and a desire to always ask questions), to encouraging the creation of a global set of accounting standards (which he likened to soccer teams showing up at the world cup and each having a different set of rules), Turley challenged his audience to think critically about the future.
As a closing thought, Turley questioned, “If you were me, what would you do to make Ernst & Young better?” It is the question, he said, that he poses to everyone in his company, and having turned the tables on the students, the answer is left to us.