“May you live in interesting times.” Most people consider this statement to be a curse. Tim Flynn ’79, chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP, acknowledges that the world of accounting is currently going through “interesting times.” “There’s no question that the profession has faced a number of challenges over the last few years,” he said. But he sees this situation as an opportunity to help shape the future of accounting. Perhaps it is this sort of vision and optimism that has helped him rise to his position of influence.
Flynn has worked for KPMG (under its different names) for his entire career, a career he started with a “great business education” from St. Thomas. He chose St. Thomas for several reasons. “My family has a history with the school,” he reported. “My father attended St. Thomas.” Flynn also chose the school for its proximity to home and because of the values the school promotes. He was very active during his college years, serving on the President’s Council and participating in the Take a Tommie to Lunch program during its beginning stages. And as a new member of the university’s board of trustees, his ties to St. Thomas remain strong.
He enjoyed his accounting major and felt well-prepared for a fast start in the industry. While his early career path could be described as traditional, it allowed him to broaden his expertise and learn about the intricacies of a global organization. Flynn built his leadership skills by moving from manager to senior manager in a high-tech area. While serving clients including Cray Research and Control Data, he was asked to lead the Midwest manufacturing practice. In 1996, he and his family moved to the New York area so that Flynn could assume the position of vice chair, human resources. From there, he became vice chair of audit, and in June 2005 he attained his current position.
Flynn describes his path as “10 successful careers in KPMG” covering a multitude of areas. “My career progression can be in a large part attributed to other’s taking the time to help me, so I take time to mentor others.”
His current position is challenging and rewarding. “It keeps me energized,” he said. “I work with bright people at KPMG, as well as with clients who represent the most successful companies in a complex world. I get a great sense of accomplishment watching people transform, being the catalyst.”
In an age when many people hop from job to job, out of necessity or desire, Flynn is visibly proud to have been a part of KPMG since 1979 and says that the best part of his career is going to work. The worst part for him is the tension of work-family balance. His commitment to his wife, Susan, and their children is important to him as their support is critical to his success. He makes things work by making time for his family; he plays golf with his son and enjoys discussions with his daughter, a student at Villanova University. “I tell my kids that you have to do something you love to do. That’s the most important thing. Don’t just do something because it is a job.”
It is clear that Flynn believes strongly in the importance of loving your job … and that he follows his own advice, working in a position, an industry and a firm he truly loves. “I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I have a lot of chances to make an impact. I’m proud of the professionals in this firm. I look forward to leading in a way that will restore the integrity of my profession in the eyes of the investing public.” Flynn may change the curse of interesting times into a blessing.
KPMG is a global, Big Four accounting firm that provides audit, tax, and risk and financial advisory services. The firm is dedicated to professional excellence, people and quality growth. Flynn says that approximately 1,500 new graduates join the firm in an annual class. They grow together, identifying with each other and often becoming lifelong friends.