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For Tom, trust is honesty, authenticity, and integrity

Tom Imbesi was appointed Chairman of Deloitte Australia in 2017 and has more than 30 years’experience as an auditor in Australia and the United States. Tom became a Deloitte partner in 1999 and specialises in the provision of assurance and advisory services to large ASX listed companies. He was appointed Victorian Managing Partner in 2015 and held this role for two years during which the office achieved significant growth. He is strongly connected in the business community and is an adviser to Boards and management across the corporate sector.

“Trust from the board, the CEO and fellow partners is fundamental to my success as Chairman of Deloitte. You can’t be an effective leader without trust. But trust is not something you can either take for granted or assume will happen over time. You need principles or philosophies to establish trusted relationships.”

Tom anchors his leadership to three philosophies.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Suspend self-interest, or put another way, always make decisions that are in the interest first of the firm, the client, and all the people you interact with. And third, do the right thing, even when others aren’t looking. That also means doing the right thing if a mistake is made. Owning the mistake and working out the best course of action to remedy the problem, as well as ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

Together, these philosophies create an atmosphere of respect. Respect for a leader, and a leader who is respectful. And this respect extends across all stakeholders from clients to regulators, team members and suppliers.

“I believe organisations can underestimate that if you drop your guard for just one moment, if you treat people without the due respect, it’s noted. They sense it and they don't forget it. And so whilst it's not easy, to maintain those three values, it actually makes life a lot easier for you as a professional and as an individual.”

Tom Imbesi shares his perspectives on trust

Long term trust starts with the everyday

When asked how this comes to life, Tom believes it comes down to everyday choices.

“Making the right choices defines success, defines leadership and defines the organisation. Making the right choices every day in how we interact with our people, our peers and our clients.”

While trust is integral and equally important to all stakeholder relationships, if Tom had to highlight one stakeholder relationship as most important, the answer would be an organisation’s people. For Tom this means the 12,000+ professionals who work for Deloitte Australia. 

12,000+ reasons to build trust

“Each of our peoplecritically contributes to our success each and every day. We set a high expectation of ourselves as a firm and they certainly expect that we deliver on the expectation. But their expectations are constantly changing and you need to change and adapt with them.”

This is particularly relevant in the post COVID world. Every organisation has seen a shift in how teams work, and how people balance their personal and professional lives. The significant challenges of the pandemic, and possibly more time at home with family and friends, emboldened people to think more about their whole lives.

Personal goals. Professional ambition

“We all know the changes to hybrid working, but what I have found most interesting is how people are resetting their values. They want to commit to their organisation but they also wish to seek more purpose in life and pursue more personal ambitions.”

Rather than fighting the change, Deloitte recognises and welcomes it. Tom believes this can radically shift perceptions and take trust to a new level within an organisation, especially when companies play an active role in helping people rebalance their professional and personal life.

Getting the balance right between career expectations and passions outside work has a long-term effect.

“I want our people to see us as a place where they can invest their careers. But if they do leave, I want them to continue to look at Deloitte as a trusted brand, feel connected to the firm and think of us as a part of their extended ‘professional brand’. In many ways, even after leaving, I’m so pleased to see them upholding their professional brand, not just our own.”

The power of personal brand

When asked about defining and achieving success Tom breaks it down into several areas.

“Consistency of approach, values, and behaviour. Being purpose-led and living and breathing your purpose every day. Being honest with ourselves and our clients.”

These are the attributes, Tom believes, that help build, maintain and differentiate the personal brands of each and every Deloitte Partner. In his view, a strong personal brand will make you successful and will inevitably ladder up to ensure a successful organisation.

His personal pride in the authenticity of the Deloitte Partners is inspiring. And the results that ensue from this authenticity have been impressive. 

“Our clients value our honesty and the growth in our business is testament to this. More and more clients are coming to us to help solve their most complex problems. The trust they have in us is delivering great success, for us and most importantly, for them.”

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