Name: Alan Whitman
Firm: Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP (Baker Tilly)
Title: CEO and Chairman
- Founded Baker Tilly’s international services platform and is chair of its International Steering Committee
- Founding member of the Baker Tilly International network’s Knowledge Sharing Group
- Executive sponsor of the firm’s GROW (Growth and Retention of Women) and SOAR (Supporting Opportunity, Advancement and Recognition for All) initiatives, which institutionalize diversity and inclusiveness
- Instrumental in Baker Tilly’s recognition as a best-in-class workplace, guiding the firm to winning numerous workplace excellence awards
- Active member of the AICPA and the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA)
As the newly appointed CEO, you’ve said you plan to focus on “managing for continued growth.” What are your plans in this area?
Both acquisitive and organic growth will be the focus of my plans for Baker Tilly’s growth. We have created a strategic growth function to drive growth in several areas – including health care and consulting services – in which we feel we have a performance and market advantage. We will also continue to look for strategic mergers to build our national geographic presence. Whether we are reviewing a traditional accounting firm or a boutique specialty firm, culture is a paramount consideration as well as a “capabilities” fit. We look for alignment to our values of integrity, passion and stewardship, and we expect our merger partners to provide shared leadership and a diversity of perspective and experience.
What does the CEO transition mean for Baker Tilly?
Baker Tilly’s vision is to become America’s finest professional services Firm. We will continue providing exceptional client service and achieving recognition as a leading firm within our chosen specialties. I’m going to emphasize execution and work to accelerate our strategy to produce measureable results. My focus as CEO is building Baker Tilly for the future. That includes driving strategy, growing our national presence and leveraging our international experience. Our growth – including our work in developing our international platform – has enabled us to pursue client relationships we’ve never been able to go after and have conversations we were never able to have, until now. Over the next several years, I see our international platform as another major component of our firm’s growth.
You are being intentional about creating a more Millennial-friendly firm. What do you have in mind?
So much of the so-called “Millennial-friendly” workplace benefits are now employment table stakes. Baker Tilly is working to create an environment in which our associates can be challenged and enriched and enabled to pursue the career path that is uniquely fulfilling to them. Our growth, which creates all kinds of opportunities, is central in those efforts. That includes allowing our team members to have meaningful client interaction, to grow with their clients and to be rewarded at every stage of their career. We also have our GROW and SOAR diversity initiatives and policies such as Dress for Your Day that are intended to make Baker Tilly a richer and more rewarding place to work.
What will it take to succeed in the complex, fast-changing professional services market?
We need to always be creating value for our clients, which will mean focusing on those services that are not sensitized to commoditization, delivered by a workforce that is performing at the top consultative levels. My leadership strategy combines three elements – collaborating for innovation, celebrating our people and building a revered brand – designed to energize our talent base to deliver better, faster, more strategic services and to become deeply embedded, trusted advisors to our clients.
The professional services market is one of the most dynamic, change-sensitive industries in the world today. The successful firm will be measured by its ability to harness new business science and technologies in the service of a highly intelligent, agile and motivated team of accounting and advisory professionals who can build a globally respected brand.