Cruising to new levels of success
Meet four colleagues who are fueled by an intense work ethic, boundless opportunity and a genuine affinity for each other.
Possessing just the right combination of motivation, technical savvy and confidence, four colleagues started playing key roles well before they turned 30 in a project with one of Deloitte's largest Audit & Enterprise Risk Services (AERS) commercial clients.
Adam Cahn, Russell Lewis, Jan Minartz and Lily Wang have "grown up" together on this engagement, fostering a relationship of trust and a genuine camaraderie uncommon in the workplace. Together with their teams of AERS Advisory professionals, they are helping Deloitte to work "As One" with other Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited ("DTTL") member firms to shift Contract Risk Compliance (CRC) services into high gear as part of the Enterprise Software Licensing (ESL) engagement team at IBM.
Maintaining compliance with software license requirements can be complex and resource intensive. In a project that was launched in 2003, some 250 contract compliance professionals from DTTL member firms in more than 30 countries use audit skills, advanced analytics and proprietary tools to help IBM and its customers with the process of monitoring and evaluating compliance related to their software licenses.
"The nature of services we deliver is rare in that it generates revenue for IBM management from their software licenses," says Tony DeVincentis, an AERS partner and global software compliance leader for DTTL. "We worked in collaboration with IBM to build this compliance function."
Accelerating his career
Adam Cahn, an AERS senior manager from New York and a tireless, eight-year member of the ESL team, saw personal opportunity when accepting the assignment. Deloitte recruited him at Bucknell University; his degree in accounting and minor in computer science made him a high-quality candidate. "I began with ESL about five months after it launched," he says. "I wasn't a deep, technical computer science guy, but I knew enough to converse intelligently with executives, procurement managers and network engineers."
Cahn was in his early twenties when he helped pioneer the proprietary reports that identified opportunities for license reviews and sparked the engagement that thrives today. "It's amazing that I would be responsible for so much at a young age," says Cahn.
Today, Cahn serves as a senior project manager on the largest reviews, building key relationships with senior leaders at IBM and its customers. He's a point person for solving problems and is hands-on in delivering consistency as leader of the ESL's Software A Team (SWAT). This special tactics group talks about issues and identifies methodologies to determine a suitable approach in every engagement, given the many individual infrastructure and cultural differences found among IBM clients.
Whether working together on SWAT or in any number of other complex scenarios, Cahn and his colleagues have built a strong bond. "We've grown together because of our young ages, but none of us would be as successful without passion, intelligence and maturity for the business," he says. "To have a reliance and trust that the others on your team will do just as good of a job as you could, if not better, is reassuring in this environment."
That confidence in one another is generating impressive results and fueling a dynamic career for Cahn. "I've been responsible for helping this team grow," he says. "Working on this assignment has really been a phenomenon. I work on one of the biggest books of business, am recognized as a resource in the field and present at conferences and seminars globally. As a result, I've enjoyed a faster than normal promotion track and built an amazing international network both within the DTTL member firms, and the client. That says it all."
Hitting the road
Building an engagement team the scope and size of the ESL wasn't easy. Fortunately, Jan Minartz loves a challenge. An Olympic-caliber swimmer while at Louisiana State University, the German native has used his competitive energy and willingness to learn to help DTTL member firms across Europe develop their ESL capabilities.
"I joined this team on my first day at Deloitte in 2006 and after almost two years in New York, I returned to Germany," says Minartz, who is now a senior manager with Deloitte Germany GmbH and works from its Munich office. "At that time one of our competitors handled 100 percent of the business across Germany. Today, at Deloitte Germany, we have 20 full-time professionals working on the IBM project, our revenue has grown to more than $4.5 million annually, and that competitor's share has dwindled to just 20 percent."
Achieving those kinds of results means that Minartz spends a lot of time traveling; he estimates that he spent 300 days on the road in 2010, hitting every continent but Antarctica.
Being the operational Contract Risk Compliance leader responsible for all services delivered to IBM in Germany is unusual for someone who has not yet turned 30, but Minartz has embraced the scrutiny he's received because of his youth from many of his client's senior executives over the years. "Now I have CIOs coming to me for advice, asking me for my perspectives on how they should license their software," he says. "I'm proud of our eminence in the marketplace. Our team's input and insights are sought out by our clients as they decide how software licensing is done. It's great to be out in front providing thought leadership in this area."
Being on the leading edge requires creativity and a willingness to try new things. Among the variables with which the IBM ESL team must contend are geography, cultural differences, diverse industries, IT infrastructure, process and control variations, and the confusion created whenever IBM changes the name of a software program or acquires a new software company.
"ESL methodologies are versatile and flexible and involve a certain amount of creativity, in order to respond to the nuances and different facts and circumstances related to each situation," says Ron Ignasiak, the relationship director on the project. "It's interesting and always presents us with new situations. It is rarely black-and-white."
It's an environment in which Lily Wang, an AERS manager in New York, has thrived. Born in China and raised in Japan, Wang came to the United States to attend college before joining Deloitte in 2005, and became part of the ESL team the following year. Fluent in English, Chinese and Japanese, Wang has traveled frequently to Japan and China to provide on-the-job training on ESL methodology and has participated in reviews.
"I was proud to be able to go back and support the work of the local team," she says. "IBM understands that we have a global support network second to none. So far we've gotten about half of IBM's available work in Japan."
Wang believes that a large reason she's had success is the fact that she shares similar values and views as the others on the team. "I don't believe we could achieve our goals otherwise," she says.
That comfort level has helped her build self-confidence. "Even though I am fluent in English, I am shy and at first was afraid that I would make mistakes," she says. "My experiences on this engagement improved my comfort in communicating in English in a business setting and made me more confident in expressing my ideas. Now I'm probably one of the most vocal members of our team."
It's obvious that Deloitte leadership is hearing Wang because her responsibilities continue to increase. A member of the SWAT team, she also oversees the licensing reviews in the United States and coordinates the majority of the training rolled out globally to professionals on the engagement.
"Having the opportunity to be a part of something this significant for Deloitte is a big deal," says Wang. "It's a lot of hard work, but we get the support we need from our senior leaders. I've learned that it pays to dream big and to always want to learn more."
One of the most important things Wang has learned is the value of the friendship she's developed with Cahn, Lewis, Minartz and others. "I could never be where I am and who I am without this team and my teammates," she says. "I like that."
Looking under the hood
While there are many unique aspects to this engagement, among the most interesting is that the ESL team works with IBM salespeople and the compliance function within the company's sales group.
"Working primarily with IBM's sales group, the last thing they want are customer relationship issues," says Ignasiak. "Since some of their customers are existing clients, we would not want to disrupt those relationships."
The key to maintaining client satisfaction is the sophistication of the technological tools, often developed by ESL team professionals, and the strength of the data analytics they perform to determine compliance.
Russell Lewis, an AERS manager from the San Francisco office, is right at home in the world of complex data manipulation, massive IT infrastructures and security protocols. Having earned a business degree with a concentration in computer science from California Polytechnic State University, Lewis has been instrumental in building and strengthening the ESL team's processes and methodologies since joining the organization in 2006.
"I was thrilled to become part of the IBM team so early in my career," he says. "I have the benefit of working with some amazing role models. I'm the newest manager and I've spent years watching how these people operate. I've tried to absorb all of it so I can do just as good of a job with my team. These folks are brilliant and it's been amazing to have a chance to learn from them and to see them in action."
Lewis' technical know-how makes him a valuable resource for others as well. When his colleagues need to know if they have correctly interpreted a licensing agreement or if they have properly extracted licensing information from an IBM customer, they contact Lewis for his insight. His experience and familiarity with the proprietary software – some of which he developed himself – can be a big help in these situations.
Being perceived as a leader is a role Lewis takes seriously. "I try to lead by example, and I've worked hard to learn from Adam, Tony, Ron and others on how to lead a team," he says. "As a result, I believe I am a better leader than I ever thought I would be. I'm far better at keeping my team engaged and motivated, and I'm trying to instill that same sense of responsibility and ownership in my seniors and consultants. Above all, I strive to always be conscious of our brand and remain professional, especially during the really difficult reviews."
Sharing the ride
More than eight years into the engagement, ESL professionals continue to help IBM management generate substantial results. The ESL project has grown in revenue every year, and in 2011 the team assisted IBM management in closing the two largest licensing fee settlements in IBM history. As the volume of reviews increase, the team has extensively tapped into the knowledge and resources of Deloitte U.S. India AERS.
"The success that Adam, Jan, Lily and Russell have had is well deserved and is illustrative of a number of colleagues from around the world," says DeVincentis. "I'm proud of the global team's accomplishments, the accolades we have received, and how we have worked together, As One, to build a business with IBM."