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On future-proofing careers and leading from the front

"We have a belief that we don’t want to leave anybody behind": A Q&A with Terri McClements, Mid-Atlantic managing partner at PwC.

Terri McClements. (Courtesy photo)

This article was sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and reviewed before publication.

Overseeing a team of 4,000 might appear to be a daunting feat to some.

But for Terri McClements, the McLean, Va.-based Mid-Atlantic managing partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), it’s another weekday.

Although McClements entered business by way of an accounting degree, her passion has always been in technology enablement — how to do things “better-faster-smarter.” She recognizes how essential it is to adapt within the workplace and to be prepared for inevitable change, she said, so she leads from the front.

McClements has made herself an example for her growing organization by incorporating tech into her everyday so that she can focus on what she believes really matters in business: strong communication and relationship skills. Studying and being conversant in new technologies is an essential part of the program at PwC, enabled by its digital upskilling programs.

McClements sees herself and PwC helping to “future-proof” the careers of their employees, whether they stay at the multinational provider of assurance, tax and advisory services, or take their careers elsewhere. spoke with her to learn more about her distinctive leadership style.


What has it been like to lead an organization as large as yours?

It’s very exciting to be leading PwC in the Mid-Atlantic region today. I’m fortunate to have 4,000 people that I’m responsible for in today’s constantly evolving and exciting business environment. I’m proud to have a role that oversees a team that is engaged, excited and energetic about the work we do for broader society.

I not only talk about the efforts we have underway, I also make it a fact to lead from the front. I’m on the ground with our clients and with our people every day having important conversations about the work we do. What energizes me is that each and every day, I am demonstrating that if I can learn after being in this industry for 30-plus years, they can certainly learn and adapt as well. Digital upskilling is something that I embrace with open arms and always enjoy opportunities to share my learnings with my team and clients.

How are you preparing your team for the future?

I am personally invested in digitally upskilling our people, but also take the time to make sure that my digital skills are as sharp as they can be.

At PwC, we have made a commitment to our 55,000 employees across the US to not fall behind when it comes to digital preparedness for a tech-enabled future.

One key component of digital upskilling that I admire is our Digital Accelerator program. We have trained over a thousand people in certain technologies so that they can work on teams to educate more people. Through initiatives such as Digital Accelerators and our Digital Fitness Assessment mobile app, which allows users to learn new skills and keep track of their progress, our people can take the digital skills that they are learning to lead the way in the ever-changing digital landscape. We call that citizen-led innovation.

What advice do you have for leaders who are building organizations?

Your every action and your every interaction is being looked at daily. It’s not just the words on the paper or the words coming out of your mouth. You need to live and breathe those values that you talk about authentically.

Having a diverse and digitally-focused workforce is an essential strategy for any business. To meet the demands of a technology-enabled economy, we must invest in our current workforce to ensure that they are equipped with the digital skills they need to excel in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR. To create an inclusive workforce, it starts from the top and the vision set forth by leadership. You need to create an environment that is inclusive and trusted and cares, because  your actions must speak as loud as your words.

With this, I have seen firsthand that a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion is central to building a more dedicated and loyal pool of talent and am passionate about leading that charge in the Mid-Atlantic region.

What personal habits do you have that keep you going and help you to be the best leader you can be?

At the heart is my faith and my family, so I will always talk to my team about what’s happening with my family. They inspire me.

I also believe that to have the ability to lead a team, you have to take care of yourself. I’m constantly looking for different ways to energize myself and most recently I have become a huge fan of indoor cycling. It is my 30 to 45 minutes that is dedicated me time — for my health, my energy and my mind. When I exercise, eat and sleep well, I feel unstoppable and know that I am bringing my best self to work each day. It’s all about being well and working well!


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