Q&A with Cindy Hook, Deloitte’s CEO of Asia Pacific

Pubished 4th October 2021

Originally posted on Consultancy.uk

Cindy Hook is the CEO of Deloitte Asia Pacific. In the role she oversees 60,000 professionals and leads the firm’s ambitious ‘Tilt to Asia’ strategy, as well as Deloitte’s regional diversity, equality and inclusion agenda. In discussion with Cat Callen from RDW, Hook reflects on her leadership style and some of the most exciting things she’s working on.

How have you developed through this whole lockdown and the pandemic?

When you go through a crisis like this, as a leader, it does make you think, if I can get through this and protect my people and my business, I can do almost anything. I feel there is a level of confidence that I have developed, because we were able to shepherd our people and our firm quite successfully and actually move to capture the opportunities that were being created by the pandemic.

It wasn’t just about hunkering down. I focused on protection, but was still able to see where the opportunity was coming from in this crisis and shifted our business to capture that.

I also think this time has made all of us reflect on how we were living and working before. It has been a year and a half of extremes. Before the pandemic, I was traveling 80% of the time and that was not good for my own personal health or the environment. While that kind of schedule is something that I don’t want to go back to, work today seems to be an endless zoom call and it is easy to become disconnected and lonely.

Being cognizant of these two very different extremes is so important in thinking about how each of us want to define our future work and life.

How do you sustain the drive required to keep moving forward?

I think there are two aspects that keep me going. The first is that I am incredibly competitive, and I want to make Deloitte the best professional services firm in the world. The other thing that really drives me is a desire to help people reach their potential. Developing talent and building capability in our organization is core to our business but it's also incredibly personally rewarding for me.

When I see young leaders, grow and be empowered to achieve things they may not even have thought possible themselves – it gives me a huge sense of achievement.

What key lesson have you learned as the CEO of Deloitte Asia Pacific?

I think I have become much more culturally aware than I was before. With that comes developing a level of empathy for where people and teams come from and what drives their decisions.

Also, as much as Asia is diverse, I have learnt that there are commonalities in people and how businesses run. How to run a successful business; how to build a high performing team; how to set a great strategy; how to create a great culture – these don't have geographic borders.

What is exciting you right now in the work you're doing?

I am super excited about the future. I think many changes that were going to take a long time to drive before Covid-19 – have accelerated, such as the digitization of consumer interactions and business. The desire to tackle climate change in a real and holistic way and the ambition around that is also something that is inspiring me. This move towards building a better world from the pandemic is incredibly motivating.

What are the traits you're looking for when you are hiring somebody for your team or for your organization?

Cultural fit and an alignment of their personal values with the values of our organization. I am looking for people that are independent and confident about who they are. People who have purpose, know what they want to do, and why they want to do it. You can teach technical skills, you can bring people in and give them experience, but it can only work if their sense of purpose and core values align with yours and that of the organization.

Further reading: Deloitte: Purpose and belonging at the core for Asian workers.

What is your go-to motivational morning song?

It has to be a Springsteen song… anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan – so my favorite morning motivational song will have to be – Born to Run.

About Cindy Hook

Cindy Hook is the CEO of Deloitte Asia Pacific and a member of Deloitte’s Global Executive Committee. She has been with the firm her entire career, having started her career with the Big Four firm in the San Francisco office in 1986.

Hook moved to Deloitte Australia in 2009 where she led the Audit practice for six years before becoming the CEO of Deloitte Australia. During her four years at the helm, she led Deloitte Australia through four years of unprecedented double-digit growth. Hook is currently based in Singapore.

Written by Cat Callen, Associate Partner at RDW