Michelle Kerrick

First Job – Michelle Kerrick

Michelle Kerrick
Managing Partner
Arizona Practice Deloitte, LLP

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My very first job was waiting tables at a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in Flagstaff during high school. My sister and I had signed up for a ski trip to Utah, but I needed to earn the money over Christmas break to be able to go. After dropping several meals and breaking the coffee pot, I realized that waitressing was not for me — but I learned several great lessons from that job. First, find the areas where you excel and the things you’re passionate about, and second, don’t let hot coffee land on the polyester uniforms!

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I joined Deloitte, which was named Touche Ross at the time, as a staff accountant in 1985. I was recruited from Northern Arizona University and have been here ever since. My dad encouraged me to study accounting. He felt it would be a challenging field and a marketable career. I chose Deloitte because of the energy and warmth of the people I met. That stands true today. I work with an incredible group of very talented individuals. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my 23 years in this profession is the importance of flexibility. When you are a junior staff member, client, industry and team assignments change frequently, which can be intimidating. You have to be able to react to change in a positive way. I also learned that working hard and maintaining a good attitude not only helps you be successful, it fosters a collaborative environment where everyone benefits from the team’s accomplishments.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
My restaurant job paid the industry standard for tipped employees: less than minimum wage. In 1979, it was about $2.50 an hour. When I joined Touche Ross in 1985, I was earning a salary of $18,000, plus a $2,000 bonus, and I was thrilled. Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play? Two mentors influenced me tremendously. The first is a now-retired Deloitte partner named Dave Martin. I had the opportunity to work with Dave for a great portion of my career. He was an impressive leader with remarkable business acumen and taught me a lot about client service and navigating the Deloitte organization. My other mentor is a friend outside of the accounting profession whom I have known for more than 15 years. He helped me hone my business skills and develop the ability to take a long-term, big-picture view, which is critical for any business leader.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Work hard and keep a positive attitude. Be flexible to the many changes that will come your way, since every new experience is a learning opportunity. Keep things in perspective: life will go on, and everyone makes mistakes. Strive for balance between work and your personal life — you can’t give 100 percent at work if you don’t take the time to stay healthy and fit.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I had always thought about med school; however, given some of the issues facing the health care system, I have no regrets! One of the great aspects of my job is the support and encouragement I receive from the firm to give back to the community. That is certainly something I am passionate about and I hope to always stay active in our community. I currently work with Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture, Greater Phoenix Leadership, Saint Mary’s Food Bank and the United Way. I want to see Phoenix become the metropolitan area that will attract viable companies and great talent.