Be the Leader You Want to Follow
A Q&A discussion with Lora Rothe in celebration of LGBT pride month
In celebration of LGBT Pride Month, we sat down with Lora Rothe, Talent director for AERS, Deloitte Services LP, to learn more about her career journey and her involvement in the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, or Bisexual (GLOBE) and Allies BRG.
Can you share a bit about your career path and current role?
I studied accounting and business administration —the first in my family to go to college—and when I graduated in 1987, I joined Deloitte & Touche LLP (“AERS”) as an auditor. Very quickly it became clear that I’d found my career “home.”
One of the most valuable things about my early years here was the opportunity I was given to try different things. While I was serving clients, I also got involved in talent matters for my teams. This is how I developed what I call my twin passions. As much as I loved serving external clients as an auditor, I also found myself drawn to the Talent side of Deloitte. I found I really was suited to living in the intersection between our business and our people. More than that, I enjoyed it.
So I shuttled between the worlds of audit and Talent for a while, learning from both, until I was a senior manager and decided Talent was where I wanted to focus my energies. That’s where I’ve been for the past 13 years, and the opportunities to stretch myself haven’t stopped. I’ve spent time serving all our businesses, and when a great assignment became available, I jumped at the chance, even if it meant picking up and moving. After spending most of my career in Pittsburgh, I relocated to Chicago for a while to lead Talent for the legacy Midwest region. Later I had the chance to lead Talent for the Federal practice, so I moved to the D.C. area. Now my career’s come full circle in a way, as I currently lead Talent for AERS.
So for me, the career path has been about staying open to amazing opportunities, developing those twin passions, recognizing and honing my strengths, and saying “yes” a lot. That’s how I find myself where I am today; making meaningful contributions to the business, while helping our people maximize their own potential. Honestly, it’s my dream job.
How has your leadership style developed over the years?
I’m a shameless thief, which I think we all should be. We have leadership role models everywhere in this organization, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with truly superb leaders. I’ve incorporated something from each of them into my own leadership style.
If I had to sum up my style, it’s the simple concept “Be the leader you want to follow.” Basically, deliver generously to others and focus on your shared goals and objectives.
Were there any turning points that helped position you for more advanced roles?
A memorable turning point was the day a leader asked me what I wanted to do with my career, and I realized I didn’t have an answer. If I didn’t know my professional goals, how could I get where I wanted to go? So I took a step back and really thought about what I wanted to do. When I was able to articulate what I wanted in my career, I could align my energy, efforts, and development to this vision. And I was able to really move in that direction, which has had a direct impact on my professional success and my personal fulfillment.
Another turning point for me came after I’d been at Deloitte for 16 years, and I chose to bring my whole, authentic self to work. Being in the closet was exhausting, and it did real damage to my self-confidence. Coming out empowered me and allowed me to focus on what’s relevant. The best part was that it was a non-event, really. Everyone at Deloitte was fully supportive, which should come as no surprise.
How have you benefited from participating in GLOBE? And how does Deloitte benefit from its professionals’ participation in GLOBE?
It’s given me the opportunity to team with other LGBT professionals on business matters and expand my network with people I might not otherwise know. It’s also provided me opportunities to mentor additional professionals. One of the things I find most rewarding is helping others find their own career journey.
For Deloitte, groups like GLOBE help strengthen our inclusive culture. Whenever you bring together Deloitte professionals who have a common goal, you create opportunities for our people to achieve something together, build relationships, and connect the dots. There’s also a business benefit, of course, because it helps us attract and retain talent, and it helps us build deeper connections in our communities.
What's it like to be an openly gay director at Deloitte?
To be honest, it’s exactly the same as being a straight director at Deloitte, and that’s what makes me proud to be here. Without exception, I’ve felt complete support from everyone, leadership on down.
What advice do you have for LGBT professionals?
It’s a personal decision for everyone, of course, but for me, living openly – inside and outside of work – has allowed me to remove distractions and be an even more effective professional. Whoever you are, Deloitte welcomes your background and experiences, so never be afraid to bring your authentic self to work. It makes us a stronger organization.
If you’re willing to take risks and leave your comfort zone, Deloitte offers so many opportunities to create the career that’s right for you – built on your passions, interests, and strengths. Finally, I’d say keep learning every day, and strive to make an impact. If you do all these things, there’s no better place to be than Deloitte. Personally, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
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