Capital Region CATALYZE

Fresh Take ft. Carmine Di Sibio

June 09, 2021 Greater Washington Partnership Season 1 Episode 8
Capital Region CATALYZE
Fresh Take ft. Carmine Di Sibio
Show Notes Transcript

This interview features Carmine Di Sibio, Global Chairman and CEO of EY. Carmine and JB discuss the COVID-19-era prevalence of remote work in the Capital Region. While this will likely not be maintained once the pandemic has subsided, data collected through external surveys as well as the Greater Washington Partnership (the Partnership) and EY Capital COVID-19 Snapshot shows greater levels of remote working will continue even after herd immunity is reached, relative to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Hosted by JB Holston. Produced by  Jenna Klym, Ian Lutz, Nina Sharma, Justin Matheson-Turner.

Learn from leaders doing the work across the Capital Region and beyond. These conversations will showcase innovation and business, as well as history and culture across our region, to bridge the gap between how we got here and where we are going.

About our guest:

Carmine Di Sibio is the Global Chairman and CEO of EY, one of the largest professional services organizations in the world with over 280,000 people in more than 150 countries. Prior to being elected to his current post, Carmine served as EY Global Managing Partner – Client Service, leading the execution of the global strategy in our four geographical areas and four service lines.

Carmine has spearheaded our innovation efforts, including leading a US$1 billion investment in new technology solutions over a two-year timeframe announced in August 2018. He helped to create the Global Innovation team to redefine how EY uses technology to both transform existing services and create new solutions. As a leader of our acquisitions and alliances strategy, he has helped expand EY offerings in a wide range of new and emerging fields.

Since joining EY in 1985, he has served as an Advisory and Assurance partner for many of our largest financial services accounts. He held several leadership positions, including Chair of the Global Financial Services Markets Executive and Regional Managing Partner for the Americas Financial Services Organization (FSO), where he started EY Risk Management and Regulatory Services.

Carmine earned a BA in Chemistry from Colgate University as well as an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He is a practicing CPA.

Carmine Di Sibio  0:00  
But third of the people won't be in these offices at any given moment. That generally means they won't you know, there's a third less jobs that are needed in the service industry and everything else. And so so that is something that I think people haven't really focused on.

Nina Sharma  0:21  
Welcome to fresh take a candid interview series featuring thought leaders and innovators from across the capital region, these one on one conversations, highlight the incredible work happening in our communities and showcase both where we are and where we are going as a region.

Carmine Di Sibio  0:40  
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm JB Holston. I'm the CEO of the Greater Washington partnership. Thanks very much for joining us fresh take today. This is our interview series with leaders from around the world on various topics, including critical issues like the future of work. We're delighted today to have as our guest Carmine Di Sibio. Carmine, thanks very much for joining us.

JB, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

JB Holston  1:01  
Thank you. Let me give folks a little bit of background about Carmine and EY and then we're gonna hop in. And thanks again everyone for for joining us. Carmine is the global chairman and CEO of EY one of the largest professional services organizations in the world with over 280,000 people in more than 150 countries. Prior to being elected to his current post Carmine served as EY global Managing Partner client service leading the execution of the global strategy and for geographical areas and for for service lines. So before the pandemic Carmine was on the road all the time, I think is what what all that means. Carmine spearheaded the wise innovation efforts. And that'll be one of the things we talked about today, including leading a US billion dollar investment in new technology solutions over a two year timeframe helped to create the global innovation team to redefine how EY uses technology to both transform existing services and create new solutions. Since joining EY in 1985. He served as an advisory and assurance partner for many of us largest financial services accounts, we may have time to talk a little bit Carmine today about where the financial services industries headed as well if there's a time comment cochairs that UI global diversity and inclusiveness Steering Committee, which works to maximize the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultural references within the organization, as a member of the Board of focusing capital on the long term to encourage long term focus in business which can drive inclusive growth, which will be another topic we'll touch on today as well, please an active role in the World Economic Forum. We were just chatting a little bit about that prior to getting going here. Serving as a member of its international business council. He also co chairs the Russia Foreign Investment Advisory Council with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev remember the international business leaders advisory council to the mayor of Shanghai and as a member of the Washington DC based US Business Roundtable. And of course, of course, most importantly, is on the board of the Greater Washington partnership, as well, Carmine, thanks again for joining us today.

Carmine Di Sibio  2:54  
Thanks, JB, those awfully kind words. But thank you. It's great to be here and happy to have a great conversation over the next hour or so.

Thank you very much comment. I'm going to jump right in. And could you talk a little bit about who EY is and the kind of work that you do for the clients. I talked a little bit about the size of the organization. But I think sometimes folks, folks here EY and think Entrepreneur of the Year, they might not understand the breadth and depth of the work that you do.

Yeah, thank you, JB. And you mentioned that I mean, he Why is one of the largest professional services organization in the world. We're considered quote one of the big four. But we do work across audit and assurance across tax consulting, and what we call strategy and consulting as well. And it's, um, we have, we're in over 150 countries, we're now over 300,000 people. And we really operate in a matrix like many consulting firms in terms of, we operate in three areas, the Americas, EMEA, which is Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa, and Asia pack as our geographical areas. And then we operate by globally by what we call service lines, which is assurance, tax strategy and transactions. I said tax tax assurance strategy and transactions and consultant.

Got it! Well, thanks. Thanks for that. Let's talk a little bit about the last year, you know, the pandemic year and and how that's affected your firm. First, in a couple of questions on that front. Did you grow during that period in terms of employment? And then I want to talk a little bit about how it's affected your employees.

Yeah. Well, that's, that's a loaded question. I can go on for a while on that. And so we did grow during the period, but we grew that half the growth rate that we would have that we weren't growing at before going into the pandemic. And so, you know, for a professional services firm, that is based on an apprenticeship model, you have to have growth when you don't have growth, everything kind of stagnates. So, you It's hard to get promoted, and it's hard to move forward. So we, you know, we were obviously planning on growing more in the close to double digit area around 10%. But we ended up going more like four or 5%. And that's been our growth rate during the pandemic. Now, you know, when I talk to people from the outside, you know, it's like, well, I'd invest in a business that grows at 10%, not pandemic, and four or 5%, of pandemic, so, So that part's good. What has happened with us also is that our expenses have come down. And so obviously, we've been doing a lot more with Zoom. And so, so internal expenses have come down, and that's helped in terms of, you know, in terms of the bottom line in terms of making sure that we can retain our workforce, and that's been JB, one of the things we said a year ago today is that the number one item for us would be to maintain our workforce around the world. And, and we, we were pretty diligent about this, you know, in such a large organization that operate somewhat decentralized. You know, if we saw pockets of people trying to, you know, let people go without, we would step in, and say no, so, that became very important to us. But what enabled all this for us is technology. And I tell the story, JB, we, we had, I don't know about 100 people on Microsoft Teams, before the pandemic, my predecessor, Mark Weinberger, and I went to the Microsoft conference. And while we were there, we were basically introduced to this Microsoft Teams, you know, and we use Microsoft as our backbone concept. And, you know, on the plane ride back, I said the mark, we ought to figure out if we could utilize this better, a lot of the CEOs thought that it's a great idea. So we got our leadership team on Microsoft Teams, and we were struggling on how to use it. You know, we were, we didn't know what to post on there, what to send emails, what you know, then then someone's like, well, we should post things about our competitors on it. Okay, so we started posting some things on competitors. But we couldn't, we couldn't figure out how to really get it going in the organization, in the pandemic, and we went from, you know, maybe at that there was a few 1000 people on Microsoft teams to 280 300,000, almost immediately. Yeah. And that technology enabled us to really operate seamlessly around the world. And it's no different than zoom, this is not Microsoft versus zoom. I mean, zoom works the same way. And, frankly, that made it pretty easy to collaborate with one another and frankly, to collaborate with clients and, and that was a game changer, frankly. And the investment in that was a game changer.

Yeah. Now that's a that's, that's great to hear. And we're, we're we use teams, we use sort of every platform, depending on who were who were interacting with. But, but those have been pretty, pretty transformational. We've done a lot of work with with your firm over the years, and really indebted to the quality of the work you folks have done. You've helped us with respect to a transportation blueprint for the region. But recently, we've been doing a lot of work on getting back to work, you know, what is it going to look like, when we're when we're back? And the numbers are pretty startling. You know, if you look at some of the some of the results, you know, we could be looking at a large proportion of the workforce working on a hybrid basis for the long term, you know, two, three, maybe even more days a week at home for 10s of percentages of employees. In the future, as you think about that for EY itself. What are your plans? How are you planning for that within EY?

Well, so in terms of EY, and this is something that I'll start more globally, and then we can get into including the Washington DC area. But you know, the pandemic obviously has hit different countries at different times. So for example, in China, our people back in the offices, it's business as usual, and so forth. But obviously, there it started a lot earlier. And so, we've, the number one item that we put in place, when the pandemic is, is obviously the safety of our people. And so we actually started restricting. And I remember this vividly we restricted travel a year ago this week, or next week, I guess. And we put out I put out a memo globally that we were going to restrict travel from certain countries and so forth. And some of our vendors, the airlines and hospitality people were calling me saying how can you do that? You know, you can't restrict travel. And I said, Look, you know, we have to protect our people, you know, and assuming we get through this will one restrict it, but but we have to protect our people. That's the number one item. And so that's been at the beginning and even now that's been basically So the overall the overall view. Now, you know, the way we operate JB is I mean, we want our people to be with our clients. So being in an office, you know, by yourself or doing client work without your client is maybe no different than being at home. So, so we haven't been rushing people back into offices, I would say, overall wise, Asia pack, a lot of countries in Asia pack have moved beyond this. So like China, in Australia, for example, was that Australia is down for very few cases period. But they had a very conservative view on the virus and, and we did open the office there over our summer there winter. And one of the things that I will tell you is we opened the office, and to maybe 20% capacity to start, and we couldn't get anyone to go, we could not get our people to go back into the office. And you might want to say, maybe that was a concern and safety issue. But I think it became more of a, you know, inertia issue, if I use that word. And so it took our leader in Australia to put out a note, and then it took some of our senior partners to go back into the office and get people back there. Now, it's not like we had 80% capacity, but we did at least have 25 30% capacity, you know, within a week or two. But it's interesting, because I think that's a lesson to be learned in places like the US now as we go forward. In in a media, we were very, we left offices open for people, and we let people you know, going to the offices if they wanted to, if they felt that was a better place to work. But the you know, but they were free to be at home as well. In the US, we took much more of a position, a very conservative position, we actually shut our offices down, and really just said, We'd rather just have everyone work from home. It's easier, our clients are at home. And so that was more than a decision in the US. Now that's obviously changing. We're starting to open up offices in the US. And we will the next couple months. But that's been a little bit the way we've been playing it around the world. I think it's also interesting, JB is that, in the offices in the US now that will open before others will be the suburban offices where people can drive to where it's easy to get to where they feel more safe will open before the city offices where they people have take mass transit.

Yeah, let's talk about the city offices. And if you flash forward six months, 12 months for post pandemic, now, how do you think your plans will look different for those offices than they then they would have been a year ago?

Yeah, so um, a couple things. First of all, for us, even prior to the pandemic, we allowed people to work from home, we had a pretty flexible environment. So you know, on any given day, we'd have 10 15% of our people working from home, we'd have another, you know, 10 20% of our people in travel. And then we'd have the majority of our people actually, with clients, right on client premises. So the actual amount of people that were in the offices were generally pretty small. And that did allow us and we did utilize Hotelling, we utilize in all the city offices. So that allowed us to obviously reduce our real estate foot footprint. This is a program we've had in place for 10 years, JB around the US, and frankly, around the world. And and and so now, when you look at what is that going to look like going forward? You know, that's a good question. You know, we all say, and our clients say, oh, hybrid model, hybrid model, well, that's fine. But what does that really mean? And what everyone's trying to figure out now is, you know, what does that really mean? Because some people are out there saying, okay, hybrid model basically means that everyone's in the office three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Yeah, well, that's the hybrid model. I don't think you're reducing your real estate footprint. You're just basically allowing people to stay home on Mondays and Fridays. So you know, that's not going to really reduce cost, which is a whole other a whole other area here. So I do think our clients are figuring this out, and we're figuring it out as well. In terms of the city offices, though, I will tell you and this is something that you know, our team working with you all for the capital region has done a lot of work around this. And it really hit me few weeks ago, JB that, that if we don't get people back in offices in the city offices, and when I say we I don't even mean me why but the broad business community, I think it's going to really hurt our minority populations, it's going to certainly hurt small businesses. And our studies have shown this in terms of the demographics, the you know, our UI team that's looked at this for the capital region. And so it's going to hurt hospitality, including restaurants and people who work in those jobs. It's it's gonna hurt small businesses around all the offices. And so, you know, if even you said, Generally, it's a hybrid model, so therefore, you know, a third of the people won't be in these offices at any given moment, that generally means there won't, you know, there's a third less jobs that are needed in the service industry and everything else. And so, so that is something that I think people haven't really focused on. I think people are just starting to focus on that. And, and I think cities and Washington DC, in particular, are going to have to really work on that. And, and how do you continue to attract people in in the cities? You know, you look at part of the work that our team's done, around even real estate values were some of the suburbs, obviously, the real estate values are going up, the real estate values in the cities are going down. And this is true with most cities around the country. But what what hasn't really shown through a JV as we're going through all this, while they're still a safety concern. And that'll still be the case for several months. Once that concern is out the window, I do wonder if people's mentality will change. People want to be with people, you know, it's it's no fun, you know, going into the room next door and being on Zoom calls, 12 days, 12 hours a day, trust me, that's no fun for me. And so. So I do think this will evolve as we go forward. But there's some real risks here. To the cities.

Yeah, yeah, I would agree that we're, I think the cities are starting to think about what those plans need to be, and how can they how can they help some of those small businesses, you know, the, as you point out, the majority, ownership of a lot of smaller businesses, particularly in inner city tend to be underrepresented communities and women, as well. And we've seen about 2 million women drop out of the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic. And that's, that's a huge risk for the the economy, if we don't find ways to bring them back successfully.

I think one, one area that I think cities need to focus on is are really young people. Because if the 20 year olds, you know, if they think it's worth it to be in the cities, and, and they have reasonable rent, but probably more important, they have the entertainment of the cities, whether that's, you know, movies in theater, whether that's sports, whether that's, you know, just just bars and all of them getting together there. I think I think I mean, this is what's made cities really grow tremendously over the last 15 years. I think young people are the answer here. And and when, when our clients say, Well, you know, we won't attract the best talent, unless we allow them to work virtually. I would challenge that. And I challenge at all time. Yeah, I think top talent, wants to work with other people, and wants to work physically, with other people. Not Not all the time, flexibility, of course. But I think some companies are starting to understand that better.

Yeah. I think that's right. Yeah. One of our big focuses, you know, here at the partnership is around inclusive growth. Yeah, we've got, you know, kind of a couple of Montrose that the region that is the most inclusive will be the fastest growing probably have the highest return on any on any measure compared to other other regions. And you know, for young people kind of inclusion is the new innovation. You know, if you want to be in a place where the companies are committed to, to inclusion and equity and diversity, you chair those initiatives at EY. Could you talk a little bit about what you're doing at EY around those topics?

Yeah, no, thanks for that. I am. I'm a huge fan of inclusion because this goes back, JB to my background, my family immigrated to the United States when I was three years old. And I grew up, frankly, learning the English language in schools and the public schools. I grew up in Glen Cove on Long Island. And so I know what it feels like when you feel like you don't belong, and you don't feel like you're included. And it was no no fault of anyone. I was just from a different culture. And I, I talk about this all the time, you know, at the time, and this is obviously years ago, you know, I would I would go to school and I would have a sandwich that would have produto and mozzarella. And, and my friends would have bologna and cheese. And at the time, you know, I was, you know, what are you eating? That's weird, you know, I would experience some of that. And, of course, now, I think almost anyone would rather have mozzarella, and we learned, but it's, but it's a funny story, but it really taught me a lot around inclusion. And, and so this is something I'm very passionate about. So we, we have a global group, that's, that's some of our most senior partners, they're not necessarily all in leadership roles, that that's part of their job is to make sure that people feel included, everywhere around the world. So we we have policies around the world in terms of what your y values are. And so we drive this, we we've won all kinds of diversity, inclusiveness awards all around the world, we're very open to to new ideas around that we obviously advise clients around that as well. But for us, it's our leadership team, that really, you know, really takes us as part of that what they do not to be fair, it's part of our strategy. We evaluate people on diversity, inclusiveness, including our top leaders, it's one of our 10 metrics that you get evaluated on. So you know, we're serious about it. And I'll give you a little story. Um, I was prepping for a client pitch yesterday, which was not in the US. And, you know, I asked, well, who's going to be, you know, on the video, of course, with, with the client, then, of course, it was five men. And yesterday was International Women's Day. And I said to the team, to the five men, I said, I cannot believe that we're actually going to go to this pitch, which is actually tomorrow with five men on International Women's Day I, well, they're all men. Was was the answer. said no. I mean, either we really have a more diverse team, or I'm not going, so you guys could figure it out. But that's, that's what it takes. And this is in a country that maybe isn't as progressive as the US or the UK. But it's important. I think messages like that are important.

Yeah, no question. How do you how do you think of the question of promotion within the ranks for a more diverse population, because you know, a lot of companies that are doing a better job at kind of onboarding, a more diverse talent set, but but are still having a hard time retaining, promoting, you know, an engineering women, you know, the statistics are really clear. Women have a really difficult time building careers. How do you, how do you work that the question of promotion and, and Talent Management up the chain, if you will?

Yeah. No, that's a great question. So we at EY on this issue, our issue is in the middle layers, we do a good job at the entry layer. And we do a pretty good job at the more senior layers. But in the middle layers is where we kind of lose, lose focus on this. And one of the things that's worked well, and we've had this in place now for about five years is we have a very rigorous succession planning process. For the top, I think it's up to 500 roles in EY globally. So each one of those roles has a succession slate. And this all gets evaluated once a year. So all the slates get evaluated once a year. It's a process that our talent team works on. But here's here's what's made this really successful, each one of the slates has had to have diversity on. So on the gender side, it's had to have two women in each slate. Now, you might say that's like a quota. Now, it doesn't mean that a woman's gonna get chosen, but what it is done, it is risen, and it's given visibility to women who potentially could be in those roles. And so even if it doesn't happen the first time around, you know, it will happen the second time around. And so, and statistically, having two on each slate is a huge difference than one. It's this concept called Two in the pool. And that's worked incredibly well. What we are trying to do now is also broaden that out to not just gender, but sexual preference, and obviously, people of color and so forth. So we're just discussing that now. But that process, Jeb has helped us a lot.

Yeah, yeah, I can imagine I you know, I was in academia for a long time. And the data was really clear whenever there was a search for a faculty member if the final pool didn't have at least two in a group you never picked in the group. Just the data was really clear. So I think that that holds true. That's great to great to hear great to hear that you're broadening that as well coming. Let's talk a little bit more broadly about skills and talent. You know, you mentioned Microsoft Teams kind of a transformational opportunity for your organization to work in a different way with with your clients as well. But if you look forward, really a couple of questions, what do we learn from the pandemic about, about the role of technology in in you really in any organization? And then the second question is, what what are the technologies to keep an eye out on now? For organizations?

Yes, so, so on technology overall, and digitization. One thing, that's, that's important, and I think this, the pandemic has just made this much more clear, is basically your company has to have a digital backbone has to be able operate digitally. Otherwise, you really would be struggling getting through pandemic, but frankly, you're going to be in trouble going forward. And this became obvious during the pandemic. So JB, we've been doing a lot of work with companies, even on their supply chains, where where, you know, only 25% of companies had a digitized supply chain, prior to put the panels amazing. And now Now, of course, they're all realizing, Oh, my God, we have to, besides de risking their supply chain, in terms of countries and so forth, now, they're realizing they have to use technology a lot more. And so, so that's created a lot of work for us with our clients, as well. But from an EY perspective, we decided several years ago that we were going to invest a lot more in technology. And what we mean by that is that, if you take our audit business, for example, we spent $500 million on an audit platform that we use globally, on every audit we do. And that's now in the cloud. That's something that that we continue to build on. We built, you know, artificial intelligence on top of that data ingestion on top of that, and, and that's, that gives us better quality audits, and obviously, better audits in general, because of the technology usage, and so, and more efficient audits, to be honest, so, so and we're doing the same thing and tax, and we're doing the same thing at some of our areas and consulting. So this all takes upfront investment, which which, which, you know, firms like Ey and the Big Four weren't used to that you know, how much upfront investment is needed. But this is something that our structure, and frankly, our leadership around the world was completely behind, starting seven, eight years ago, and obviously, up to now. So what we envision is we do envision that technology will help in terms of some of the mundane work that some of our people do. So we do think that from a talent perspective, JB as as people get hired into why they'll be able to do things faster, learn faster, and we want to shorten the promotion cycles. So they get promoted quicker by them using technology. And, you know, the example I use is, to our people internally is, you know, the math that I used to do in ninth grade, now kids are doing in sixth grade, or fifth grade. So you know, the learning is much faster. So it shouldn't take 1314 years to make partner, they should be able to do an eight or nine years using technology learning faster. So that's my challenge to the organization. 

That's great. And that's a that's a good segue to to one of the if people are starting to thought about accounting, tax, etc, the kind of guilts you know, you kind of you needed to really craft your your skill, you worked your way through you added skills to that exposure, etc. But to your point, a lot of the skills, maybe automations, helping folks do the tasks to a greater degree. So how does that change who you recruit? Or what kind of background you look for, from the people that you're recruiting? And then a corollary to that is, you know, what do people need to have in terms of skills or training to be attractive to you?

Yeah. So let me start with first we are influencing the schools to make sure that they build technology much more into the curriculum, whether that's the law curriculum, accounting, curriculum, business or finance curriculum, so we want we want them to, to build technology more into that and, and sometimes in the academic world, it's hard to get schools to change their, their curriculum, but but, but we're trying on that front. Look, I mean, we all need to be more rescaled around technology, and I think there's an opportunity there. We at EY actually created our own tech MBA program. Yeah, we're doing with the Hult school. It's accredited many different countries. And so we actually had our first graduates, group of eight people graduated, I think last week. And so I was able to speak to all eight of them, we're going to expect to have about 100 graduates this year. So it's just starting to scale. But we've gotten tremendous, you know, just just notes and everything else on what an opportunity that is for people to really gain skills in technology. And I think I think what we're also looking at JB, and we're looking at this, in the US and in some other countries in different cities is, how do we really skill people around technology, even if they don't have a four year college degree, but are can become specialists in Python or specialist in anything? Because we need those people, and we'd be willing to hire those people. And so we are looking at different programs around the country, on how to skill people in technology so we can hire them. And I do think that's going to be important in terms of giving, in particular, a lot of minority communities an opportunity to be skilled in those in those areas, which which is the future.

Yeah, yeah, we completely concur. You know, that colab effort here is, you know, is a, you know, it's really designed to help accelerate that. And the good news with that has been how rapidly a lot of the traditional higher ed institutions have been adopting it, because I think they've seen what you've what you've said, which is, they can add those skill components that are certifiable to students, whatever the discipline may be, it accelerates opportunity for a really broader range of students. And, and boy, Tony, coming out of a pandemic, that's what it's really clear, that's what students are expecting, you know, they're, they're looking for return on on that, that investment in any kind of continuing education or higher ed of any sort. That's true. Let me talk a little bit about sort of go back to the global youth, obviously, you do business around the world, we're kind of an interesting partnerships and interesting construct, you know, we're regional. So we cover Baltimore, down Richmond, we got the national capital in the center of that, as well, if you if you think about, you know, you mentioned Shanghai, we talked about Singapore, etc. If you think about other parts of the world, where can America be learning from? Right now?

That's a That's an excellent question. First of all, let me tell you, JB, you guys do an outstanding job, you know, I'm new to the board. And I've just been watching how you operate and, and even the board membership, but your agenda, and what you're all focused on is very, very impressive. I've been involved with similar organizations around the world and in the US, and, and they're not nearly as organized, as you all are. So I think that's fantastic. Thank you, first of all, second, you know, I do think that areas in the US can promote a lot more internationally, and can. So you know, one of the things that I am involved with in Shanghai, is sponsored by the mayor of Shanghai. And it was all sponsored around international investment into Shanghai, and they do a very good job at attracting the CEOs there once a year at, at opportunities there. And so that's something that I hadn't really thought about it within the US. But But that's something that could be could be something that the partnership or other regions in the US could look at is how to attract whether it's capital, whether it's talent from around the world. And I do think our immigration policies will change for the better, I think going forward, so. So I do think some of that will be a real opportunity for regions, including the capital region, I mean, I think the capital region has a real opportunity in terms of tech. It's, you're already up there. And I think attracting tech talent, even from you know, outside the US, I think, is a is a real opportunity. I think, brand wise, the capital region has a very nice brand outside of the US. Cherry blossoms and everything else. But but it really does, it has a very nice brand. So So I think you're you're in a position that we're in a position to, to attract good talent.

Yeah, I think it feels that way to us, you know, a lot of the elements there. And I think particularly as we open back up to the world, you know, you talked about immigration strategy, but only just the world general, he's gonna want to want to interact again, the way that we used to, and I think we feel like we're in a good position. I think inclusion is going to be key to that, to that, you know, certainly within the domestic context, to attract talent to retain talent, but I think generally, I think what we're hopeful with the partnership and appreciate your comments about it is that it really does become kind of an example that other organizations look at and say, Okay, that's a great way to, you know, to have have large enterprises collectively work toward catalyzing solutions that really can scale that that matter. I mean, all boats rise, you know, for successful here, it's only going to be good for everywhere.

Yeah, and and the thing that really impressed me is that all three of the regions, whether it's Baltimore, or Richmond, or the Washington DC area, that, that this, this true spirit of working together, and it's not one competing with the other, which in other regions around the US, I have seen where I don't want to use the but you know, the, the North is competing with the, with the West, you know, and that kind of thing. And so, the fact that you all working together is really impressive.

Now, I appreciate that. Um, so I wasn't Twitter stalking you. But I was I noticed you, you commented on an article about resilience and gratitude, relatively recently. And and I thought that was, as we come out of this pandemic, and you think about the cost to people in the way they had to sort of find a way to work through I love you know, some comments from you about why that article struck you. What is it about resilience and gratitude that that strike you is meaningful?

Yeah, well, I, this is something that I'm very worried about, to be honest with you, JB. I think in general, people have been resilient. And at EY, we've been resilient. But I will tell you, I am very worried just on people's mental state, you know, going forward. And, and I think, and this is, this is everyone I talked to in the business world, including my friends. It's a concern, it's a concern of what this pandemic has really done to us, even purely from a mental health standpoint. And, and I think what's happened now, too, is, is everyone's become kind of complacent, like this is the norm. And that's why I, you know, I'm pushing really hard for us to, when I say us, all of us, not just the why, but for us to get back to some kind of normalcy in human interaction, because I think it's incredibly important. And it's, it's, um, you know, I tease our own organization, and I also tease our clients on, you know, too many people will try to use cost as an excuse to go into a new normal. And, and, you know, whenever I hear someone's reducing their real estate footprint, for example, I, you know, I get shivers because I'm like, I hope they thought this through. I hope they thought this through. And to be honest, JB, the tech world has pushed us into this. And let's be honest, the tech world makes more money if we're all virtual all the time. And, and I feel very strongly that we need to make sure that we're balanced in that perspective. We've been resilient because of technology. But I think we need to be careful on how we go into a new normal here. It doesn't mean I'm, you know, I'm all for flexibility. I've made no announcements that you know, that working from home is an aberration or something like that. Yeah. But But I do think, you know, I think some of those announcements are actually going to be needed to get people back into what needs to be.

Yeah, I think that's right. I think, you know, we've got, as you know, in the partnership, we got institutions like Johns Hopkins and some of the other, you know, higher, and they've some ways they've been advantaged through this, because they've had to continue to, to engage at the human level, throughout. And, of course, that was a struggle, but but I think your points are really good one, you know, that you've got, culture can really get dissipated and lost. And it can be really hard to rebuild in a meaningful way.

And I think we need to be careful, we need to be careful on what we're doing, when things are not safe, versus what we're doing and things are safe. Because, because if safety is an issue, that's a whole different ballgame. But in a few months, I truly believe safety will not be an issue. And it's it gets frustrating to me when, you know, we get government agencies coming out with is a big announcement, you know, that if you're vaccinated, you can hang out inside with vaccinated people in small groups. You know, that's like saying, you know, it's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I don't know what that really means. I mean, we're gonna have to move beyond some of this. You know, as we go forward, and look, mask mandates. I think they're important. You know, I wouldn't take away a massive mandate now. But we have to make sure that we're, we're looking at that and when people are vaccinated, I don't think you really need masks, you know. So just my own little opinion. 

JB Holston  39:39  
Yeah it's been interesting. We, you know, is you know, through summer reopening work, we had a chance to work with the former administration and the current administration pretty closely and, you know, the CDC has been really, really conservative throughout. And, you know, it's their job, and that's, you know, that's what your expertise is doing. But but you know, that at some point, there's some judgment it's got to enter into as to how people are really good gonna behave? And you know, and what's the incentive to? I think there's the question of, you know, what's the incentive to get a vaccine? If what you're being told is, well, your behavior can change can't change at all. Right. So, so I think you're right. I think the big organizations, which, you know, interestingly become the trusted institutions in the country, I think are gonna have a really critical role in, in patterning through their employees, their families, what to do.

Carmine Di Sibio  40:21  
Yeah, no, it's and look, we're all I think we're all trying to get to a better place here. And I think we're we all should be working together. I don't think this is. But but I do. I do worry, JB, and we talked a lot about this, but I do worry about us coming out of this pandemic, really helping in terms of equity? Because I do think there's a risk here that we're going to come out with an even more divided situation economically.

JB Holston  40:52  
Yeah, I agree with that. A couple of quick things kind of come up in the in the chat. One is about transportation and kind of messaging about when we go from safety to it's okay. To use transport and and the role of business leaders on that. Obviously, mass transit is one of those things where, you know, back in the day when it was all about fomites, and surface and all that everybody was worried but have you do you do talk about those using mass transit with your employees at all? Do you folks have a position on that?

Carmine Di Sibio  41:20  
Well, the position that we've had so far is, we're not forcing you in the office, because you have to take mass transit, because it might not be safe. Once it is safe. And once we do get to a normalcy in terms of who's in the office and who's not, I mean, are people going to be expected to take mass transit or especially in the cities, but this is where JB, this is important, because I do think if we're not careful in terms of the cities, so in the capital region, Washington, DC, you know, mass transit, and trans mass transit, so usually taken for commuting, that's the biggest percentage. And if, if that gets reduced, even by a third, it's a third less revenue, the rails won't be used. And that's going to be very impactful to the agencies running these things, but also in general, and so. So I do think once it's safe, you know, are people are going to be expected to take mass transit? I mean, we're not, you know, you're not going to be able to not go to a client and say, Well, I don't take the train or don't take the pots. You know, I don't think that's gonna be except that. 

JB Holston  42:27  
One other quick question that I'll just conclude with this, cuz you raise the equity equity issue, combine as we conclude the conversation. And folks are wondering if you think about a world where we do have more remote workers, or we have more workers who are working remote some of the time making sure that it's a truly equitable, and inclusive environment can be can be harder. And you know, it does seem like we're gonna have to be a bit more intentional about how we go about about doing that. And and I'm sure it's early days, there's a figuring about all that out. But any any thoughts on that particular issue?

Carmine Di Sibio  42:57  
No, I think it's something we need to be aware of JB as we as we go through this. And we've been aware about this, also, I mean, because even during the pandemic, we have a lot of people who, whose home conditions are not the same as mine, and yours. And so. So being at home was very difficult. So we've been trying to accommodate that were opening some offices having place where they can go. But I think as we go forward, that's going to be more and more important, more and more important. But this is where, you know, you're getting into this digital divide, and making sure that that people have access to technology across the board is incredibly important. And the more we can do that, and the more that that can be done in the region, the better. 

JB Holston  43:46  
Yeah, I agree with that. Well, Carmine, I broke the rule that I told you I never break, which is I took a little bit more time with you then than I would, but it's been it's been a great conversation and want to thank you for for joining us today. I've enjoyed it.

Carmine Di Sibio  44:00  
No, thank you, JB. It's been great, great questions, and you want to great organizations. Congratulations on that.

JB Holston  44:06  
Thank you. Well, it's all as you know, it's just having good people around. My guest has been that Carmine Di Sibio. He's the global chair and CEO of EY EY has been just a terrific partner for the partnership. And again, on behalf of that I wanted to say thank you to you and all of the folks in the team. It's been absolutely invaluable for our ability to do our work. 

Carmine Di Sibio  44:24  
No, thank you, and thanks for the opportunity. Great. Well, it's great to be talking about the inclusive growth, international future. We're all going to be returning to here quickly. Absolutely. 

Thanks, JB. 

JB Holston  44:35  
Thanks again, Carmine.

Nina Sharma  44:38  
Thanks for tuning into fresh take. This episode was produced by Jenna climb. Ian Lutz, Nina Sharma and Justin Matheson Turner if you liked what you heard, share it with your network. For more information and to access all of our podcasts, events and publications visit Greater Washington

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