Big Four chiefs: Janet Truncale (EY) and Mohamed Kande (PwC)

22 November 2023 4 min. read
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Big Four accounting and consulting firms Ernst & Young and PwC await new, culturally diverse global leaders, but both incoming chiefs face other internal culture challenges, especially in Australia.

Recent concerns over the internal culture which had developed at Australian Big Four members Ernst & Young and PwC will soon fall to new global leaders, with Janet Truncale elected as EY’s next global chair and CEO and Mohamed Kande poised to take over on the same day at PwC.

Incidentally, both firms have also recently made local headlines after slashing hundreds of jobs from their Australian workforce amid a protracted consulting slowdown.

Big Four chiefs: Janet Truncale (EY) and Mohamed Kande (PwC)

Janet Truncale

Currently head of EY’s financial services business for the Americas, company veteran Janet Truncale will become the first woman to lead a Big Four firm at the global level when she succeeds Carmine Di Sibio from July next year – the latter stepping down after an extended single term marked by his support for the firm’s failed split bid. Truncale first joined EY as an intern more than three decades ago, and will now be responsible for overseeing a $50 billion global business.

“It will truly be an honor to lead this amazing organisation,” Truncale stated. “The work we do in creating opportunity for our people and clients, as well as our role in the capital markets defines EY as an organisation, and I couldn’t be prouder to have the opportunity. I am inspired by the example Carmine has set, instilling an intent to be profession leaders, focusing on staying ahead of the curve in technology, and most of all personifying EY values.”

Those values, including ‘respect, teaming and inclusiveness’, have been evidently lacking at EY’s Australia branch, according to an internal cultural review commissioned by the firm in the wake of an employee’s death in Sydney. Released in the past week, EY Australia’s 2023 Value Realised Scorecard outlines the progress it has made on the workplace culture report’s 27 recommendations, which the firm has committed to implementing in full.

Mohamed Kande

Subject to ratification, Cote d’Ivoire-born global advisory leader Mohamed Kande will have his own headaches to deal with when he takes over from Bob Moritz as PwC chair, including the well-documented tax scandal which has engulfed the firm’s Australian practice and sent the current chief into high-level damage control.

Kande will also have the fall-out from the firm’s Cyprus revelations on his plate, along with PwC links to an Angolan corruption probe which refuses to go away.

In contrast to Truncale, Kande has only been with PwC’s US branch since 2011 – often the time it takes just to be admitted to the firm’s partnership – but will break new ground on two fronts in becoming both the first black person and the first executive from a consulting background to lead the firm globally, not to mention the first African and native French speaker. He also started out as an electrical engineer, only later heading off to business school.

It’s easy enough against the cultural repair requirements and diversity backdrop to forget the fundamental revenue challenge ahead for both incoming heads, with Deloitte having in recent years shot a long way ahead of its traditional market rivals, primarily under the guidance of India-born former CEO Punjit Renjen. Now departed, Renjen didn’t however have to deal with such challenging economic headwinds while raising the flag for diversity.