Stuart White first connected with Deloitte through the career center at the University of California at Berkeley. “The center had a very organized, very competitive process for matching students with potential employers for interviews,” he recalls. With the recommendation and support of a friend who had been hired by Deloitte a year ahead of him, he ranked Deloitte highly with the career center and got the interview. He also got the job. It was such a good match, in fact, that he returned to Deloitte later in his career for a second round. We spoke with Stuart about how his career developed at Deloitte and how he leveraged the experience toward his current role as Director of Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance at the medical device company NuVasive.
What drew you to Deloitte initially?
I was impressed with everyone I met during the interviews. But equally as much, I think Deloitte chooses you. This may still be the case, but back then they wanted more than pure accounting majors. They also wanted people with liberal arts backgrounds, bringing to the team unique and varied experiences, but with a demonstrated interest in business, which I had.
What was your most memorable project?
Back in ‘97 or ‘98, Deloitte invested heavily in developing capacity around ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) internal controls and information security. Key leadership within Deloitte became specialists and trained others on how to implement and audit ERP systems, especially in conjunction with the financial audit teams. That opened a door for me to learn a unique skill that made me valuable to financial audit teams that had clients who had these “newly” implemented ERP systems such as SAP, Oracle, etc. And it led to engagement after engagement with clients across several industries.
What led you to leave Deloitte the first time?
I made a smooth transition to work for an existing client. Because of the skills and experience I had acquired at Deloitte, an opportunity came up to join VISA in their internal audit function. They were just starting to undergo their investment in a major ERP system, so the timing was serendipitous. Besides, my kids were young, and there was far less travel involved, so that was attractive.
You then returned to Deloitte five years later.
Our family wanted to move down near extended family in San Diego, but VISA didn’t have a role that could accommodate a move there. So I called some of my Deloitte colleagues at the Partner/Principal/Director levels, and there wasn’t any hesitation. It was quite shocking how fast things went from there. I interviewed, was offered a position, and actually moved earlier than my family, staying in a hotel in San Diego for a couple months until my kids could finish out the semester and make the move.
A few years later, you transitioned back into industry. How did you know it was the right time?
Working at Deloitte, I got to see the needs of companies’ internal audit functions, and I decided that my long term career goal was to head-up internal audit departments. This choice met my needs to be deeply engaged with corporate leadership, as well as have a lasting impact on a company’s goals and strategic vision. An opportunity arose within San Diego with a small software company. All the things I’d accomplished at Deloitte, along with other experiences collected along the way, wrapped into a pretty good package that earned me a role I’d never held before. My position there, even though it ended a year later when the company was acquired, led me to where I am now.
Describe your current role at NuVasive.
I’m currently director of internal audit and corporate compliance. We do SOX 404, health care compliance audits, and oversee the regulatory and compliance disciplines of health care fraud & abuse laws, information security, and privacy. One thing I wished I’d learned earlier is how wide open the role of internal audit director can be. There are those specific things that have to get done, of course, but then the sky’s the limit. There are a lot of good opportunities out there; risks that companies face never seem to want to diminish, they are only becoming greater and more complex, as the corporate world becomes more inter-connected and international trade expands.
What advice would you have for someone coming out of college and considering a professional services organization like Deloitte?
All the variables that any public and/or private company faces — I got to see and deal with those firsthand at Deloitte. So if you’re trying to decide between a professional services career or jumping right back into school after undergrad to earn an MBA, I would say do professional services first, wherever you can. It’s that valuable.
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.