“Our best leaders create opportunities for others to grow and learn,” says Tom. “We have a great group of professionals in BKD today because our leaders from earlier years made sure that today’s leaders were given ample leadership development opportunities.”
Tom is fully aligned with the direction of BKD partners and managing directors to be sure the firm is succeeding at both organic and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) growth. He will continue to influence innovation efforts and plans to develop a task force to modernize how we tell BKD’s story in M&A opportunities.
Some additional focus areas include sustaining a cohesive approach to pursuing and serving clients, developing innovative product solutions, and building an up-skilled and tech-enabled workforce capable of solving clients’ most complex problems. To help BKD achieve any and all of its goals most effectively, Tom stresses the vital importance of BKD’s SKY initiative.
“We must continue to expand our work on diversity and inclusion. We already see a healthy increase in our workforce’s diversity, and my hope is this will continue as we hire professionals who have different skillsets and come from different backgrounds. BKD’s greatest firmwide success will come when we have removed any unintentional barriers to any individual’s success,” says Tom.
BKD’s financial stability allowed the firm time to think strategically on how best to respond to COVID-19. The firm’s response involved creating an effective plan that monitored charge hours, financial results, and the firm’s overall economic health on a short- and long-term scale. Unlike many other firms, BKD was able to avoid layoffs and significant salary reductions.
“It seems like we’ve hardly missed a beat when it comes to taking care of our clients and each other. Our collective discipline in how we take care of our clients and our business allows us to do this, and I’m committed to not letting our discipline or excellence slip,” says Tom. “I love the open and honest transparency we’ve had throughout COVID-19, and I plan to continue that.”
Over the short term, Tom will work with our management committee to evaluate COVID-19’s impact on the work environment, as remote work will become more common once normalcy returns. One of the main challenges will be balancing this change with the importance of building and maintaining BKD’s culture.
“It’s so important we take the extra effort to stay in contact during the COVID-19 environment,” says Tom. “The culture we all live and breathe is both unique and unmatched. It sets all of us up for success if we are willing to commit to our PRIDE values and lean into our Unmatched Client Service® principles.”
As work strategies change, the firm will also need to consider how its people engagement programs should evolve to ensure BKD maintains a strong culture and offers effective connections between personnel. Further, the industry’s technological transformation will require BKD to evolve its training approach so teams can do more critical analysis and less data input, which Tom hopes will create even more rewarding career opportunities.
“What’s great about BKD is that it's big enough to provide extensive opportunities, but small enough that those who really excel can be noticed and given even greater opportunities. I’m excited that I can now play a greater role at connecting high-performers with more complex and impactful experiences,” says Tom.
An early step of the CEO selection process was evaluating input from all BKD personnel on important firm issues and leadership attributes. BKDers identified employee engagement, training and upskilling teams, and client service as three key issues for leadership to address. BKDers also expressed the importance of a leader who is a strategic thinker and an effective team builder and possesses the humility needed to learn from others. Tom checks all these boxes.
“When I look at the team of next-generation leaders at BKD under Tom’s amazing leadership, I am confident we are making tomorrow better than today for everyone at the firm,” says Ted.