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Leonie Mulholland

Partner, Operate Services, Deloitte Canada

As an advocate for Operate service delivery excellence and quality, Leonie thrives on leading engagements that make a real difference to clients and society. Read how her career in Operate has helped her learn, grow, and excel working at the center of client organizations.

Briefly, explain what you do at Deloitte.

I’m an Operate services Partner in Deloitte Canada. I lead client engagements alongside overseeing quality, risk, and delivery excellence across our Deloitte Canada Operate business. The bulk of my work is striving to make our clients’ business, systems, and processes better. These next-generation managed service models span critical business functions such as IT, HR, Finance, Marketing, Operations and across Industry. We help clients solve complex business challenges like operational inefficiencies, technical skills gaps, and deliver insights to drive better business outcomes and enhance their ongoing operations.

How would you explain what you do to someone who knows nothing about Operate services?

Operate services are about creating long-lasting client relationships that make a real difference to the way they run their organizations. We are deeply embedded in their businesses for sometimes up to ten years, giving us the opportunity to better understand their organization, improve their processes, embed continuous improvement, and introduce different avenues of innovation. Our goals are around more than just cost efficiency—we are focused on driving greater client outcomes like operational agility, enhanced customer service, revenue generation and more.

Tell us about an Operate services project you're most proud of working on in your career.

The projects I’m most proud of have been within the public sector, where the work we do really contributes to the society that we live in. For example, we have helped a provisional government reduce the average time taken to offer core services to their end users, allowing workers to handle a greater volume of cases. What I also love about these engagements is that our Operate teams are really engaged, and there is a real sense of purpose when we resolve critical client challenges, which result in valuable outcomes felt by the client but also by society.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

This is where Operate roles truly stand out to me because no day looks the same and that’s what I love about it. It’s about thinking on your feet and learning how to reprioritize efficiently. But I would say my day is led by building client relationships, helping solve their complex business challenges and consistently thinking about continuous improvements—how can I make my client’s business better?

How did you end up in Operate services?

I began as an SAP consultant in industry and always wanted to work at Deloitte. I joined Deloitte Africa in Application Management Services and 17 years later, including a move to Canada, have not looked back. I think the reason I have been here for so long is the fact that I really get to walk in my client’s shoes, working shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and with continuous change happening, it keeps me on my toes. I’m collaborating with different teams and our Delivery Centers around the world and working across industries—this experience is hard to match.

What excites you most about your role? Why do you do what you do?

Really getting to understand our clients’ businesses and working to solve their challenges. Because we deal with systems and people, when systems go down as an example, we come together and creatively problem solve. It is amazing watching our teams collaborate in moments of need.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping up with latest technology trends to ensure we are at the top of our game and bringing this to clients. This is where the strength of Deloitte’s reach comes into play. I know that I can call on specialist experience and teams who are researching the latest industry disruption, like Generative AI. I really enjoy the element of continuous learning in Operate.

What's a common misconception about working in Operate services?

A prominent one is that Operate can be boring and repetitive work. The assumption often is, we get an incident or support ticket, resolve it, and move onto the next, repeatedly. Operate is so much more. Our teams are constantly adapting and proactively providing continuous improvements for clients. We use client challenges as an opportunity to take a step back and look for patterns and solutions from a holistic perspective to help ensure we’re moving forward and solving potentially bigger problems.

What aspects of your career journey have taken you by surprise?

Early on in my career I was part of a couple of projects that were difficult and had a few surprises. But I also learned a lot from when things didn’t go to plan. Those projects helped me understand my strengths and development areas that make me who I am today. I’ve also worked with so many great leaders through the tough moments, so the surprises taught me how to be more resilient and agile.

What advice would you give your younger self about working in Operate services?

Always ask questions, because you are surrounded by people who want to share their knowledge and help you grow. Everyone makes mistakes, but that’s how we learn to do things better. Learn to acknowledge your mistakes. Be vulnerable and have the courage to pick yourself back up and solve the issues at hand.

What do you like to do outside of work? And why is it so special to you?

My family and I are very fortunate to live near the coast and lakes, so we spend a lot of our time at the beach, swimming, traveling, and taking road trips.

Note: The services and experiences described herein are intended to demonstrate Deloitte's experience and capabilities in these areas, however, due to independence restrictions that apply to audit clients (including affiliates), Deloitte is unable to provide certain services based on individual facts and circumstances. Therefore, the experiences and descriptions would not apply to services to audit clients.