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EY's Tony Jordan: 'Donating Time Can Make A Tremendous Difference'

Tony Jordan, Senior Partner at EY, talks about how mentors and sponsors helped him in his career, gives advice on how to become a high potential and the benefits of serving on a not-for-profit board.

Tony Jordan is a senior partner in the Boston office of EY where he specializes in forensic accounting investigations, issues surrounding Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and general business-related disputes. He has extensive litigation consulting, forensic accounting and auditing experience; is a certified public accountant; and has been providing financial consulting advice to clients for over 20 years.

Jordan is also actively involved in serving on boards of not-for-profit entities and is currently a board member of and the treasurer for Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, and a board member of Discovering Justice. His prior board experience includes serving on the executive committee of the board of directors and holding the position of finance committee chair of the Boston Public Library Foundation, and serving on the finance committee of the Boston Public Library.

 DI: At what age did you know you wanted to become an accountant? Did you have role models that guided you to this field? Did you have any insights into the racial diversity of the industry?

Jordan: I first realized I was good at accounting in junior high school, making sense of the debits and credits came very naturally to me. I wasn't entirely sold on accounting for a career, but general business was something of interest.

An uncle who started his career in accounting suggested that a few years in the industry would provide a good foundation for whatever else I chose to pursue. It was good advice.

I didn't really understand racial diversity in the accounting industry until I was an accounting major in college. It was then that I saw my peers — and people from the accounting firms I met on campus — did not look like me. Additionally, some other racially diverse students would incorrectly comment that accounting firms didn't hire diverse candidates.

That's when I made a commitment to myself that I would "be the example." I would show other racially diverse students that we can all be successful in public accounting. That same commitment of setting an example for other underrepresented minorities has continued to motivate me throughout my career. I hope that my achievements will demonstrate to everyone watching — anyone from underrepresented communities — that they have many career opportunities available.

DI: How did mentors and sponsors help you in your career? And were you a good mentee? And could you have advanced without a sponsor?

Jordan: Mentors and sponsors are truly critical to everyone's success. I have been fortunate to have several throughout my career. Interestingly, many of them were not racially diverse. These people have had a tremendous impact on helping me grow both personally and professionally. From the mentor who took me under his wing when I was an intern and first-year staff person in audit to the mentors and sponsors I now have as a partner in the firm, there have been a number of people who gave me the feedback, guidance and development opportunities to grow into the professional I am today.

It's impossible to calculate the impact my sponsors have had through supportive conversations with me, positive conversations about me to other leaders and creating opportunities by pushing for my involvement in projects when I wasn't there. It's not something you'll always know about in detail, but you'll get a sense along the way of how these people are advocating for you.

I work to pay it forward with my mentoring activities. Strong mentors and leaders who take a serious interest in the development and careers help further their growth, retention and success. I am always available to brainstorm with people who need to bounce ideas off someone, and I also volunteer for leadership roles with our affinity groups. My teams know that I see my role as helping them grow as professionals. It's what was done for me and I strive to provide them with the same opportunities.

DI: What advice would you give on how to become a high potential?

Jordan: I believe that in order to achieve your highest potential there are a few steps to consider:

  • Build your brand — you get one chance at first impressions. Make sure you make the most of them and quickly display the qualities for which you want to be known.
  • Seek out mentors whom you see as succeeding — there are people who have been down the path already and can provide you tremendous insight and guidance based on their experiences. Seek them out, understand what's worked for them and then make it work for you based on your own personality and goals.
  • Constantly challenge yourself and seek improvement — don't be satisfied with the status quo. There's always room for improvement. Having a healthy perspective into where you can improve and setting goals around that development is critical.
  • Have a long-term view — too often people look at the expectations provided to them by their company/firm and focus on "checking the box" for their level or position. Having a longer-term view will help you achieve sustained success. Thinking about questions like, "What goals do I need to have in place now to get to where I want to be in three to five years?" helps people construct the right path.

DI: You're very active in serving on not-for-profit boards. What benefits do you get out of serving? What recommendation would you give to millennials on being active in the communities they serve?

Jordan: I support my community though activities like coaching my kids' sports teams to getting involved with organizations that inspire me and connect to my purpose like the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, Discovering Justice or the Boston Public Library.

I also serve on the board of a nonprofit, which is rewarding both personally and professionally. It introduces me to other business professionals in the community who share my desire to support those causes and has expanded my network greatly.

My advice to millennials is to get involved in organizations early. Recognizing the challenge of paying off student loans, young professionals need to remember that donating time can also make a tremendous difference. EY and many other companies support these efforts and strive to have their people engaged in what they are passionate about outside of work — they even have their own programs and volunteer opportunities available. Personally, I took advantage of these opportunities early, which eventually led to my board opportunities, and I encourage other professionals to do the same.

Anthony B. Coleman: Veterans Should Discover Their Passion and Allow it to Lead to a Profession

Coleman, talks with DiversityInc about his journey transitioning from life in the U.S. Navy to working for Kaiser Permanente as an Assistant Hospital Administrator.

Anthony B. Coleman, DHA, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente, Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

He was born at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Ardent (MCM 12). After completing a full sea tour he was transferred to shore duty, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Workforce, Education and Development, as well as a Master of Health Administration. He later earned a commissioned as a Naval Officer serving in various roles overseas and afloat, including Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital Beaufort SC, Human Resources Director at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and Medical Operations Officer onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Anthony retired in 2016 with 20 years of honorable service and holds a Doctor of Health Administration Degree and currently serves as the Assistant Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

DI: What was the initial transition like going from the armed services to a civilian career?

My initial thoughts on transition brought unnecessary anxiety. However, when I learned that my preceptor was a retired Air Force Colonel, it helped put me at ease about the transition. On my first day at Kaiser Permanente, the staff and physicians welcomed me and ensured that I had the support I needed to make a successful transition.

DI: What are some skills or habits you developed while serving in the military that have helped you in your current role?

Two things stick out in my mind as important.

The first is transitioning mindset from duty to desire. I joined the navy at 17, and during the first 3-5 years of my military career I didn't realize I was part of something bigger than myself so I competed tasks out of obligation (duty). After completing my first full sea tour, I realized how my efforts contributed to the overall mission of the U.S. Navy and the duties I carried out started to come from a desire to do so. This realization helped shape my leadership style and how I groomed young sailors early on in their enlistments. I wanted them to realize their very important part in the overall U.S. Navy mission and motivate them to bring their "A" game every day.

This has helped in my current role overseeing nine non-clinical departments (Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition, Engineering, Construction, Parking, Safety, Property Management, Telecommunications, Security and Supply Chain Management) where the majority of the employees I oversee are entry-level and can feel disconnected to health care because they are not physicians or nurses. However, I stress to them as often as possible that whether their job is to nourish the patient, clean and disinfect a patient room, make sure life-saving equipment is in working order, or any other of the hundreds of non-clinical functions they perform day in and day out, they too are vital to a patient's health and healing.

The second is attention to detail. Most times, my staff are the first and/or last interaction our members have with Kaiser Permanente. It is crucial for them to pay attention to every detail about the patient they encounter because each and every detail about the patient, large or small can help us do a better job in serving them. Sometimes, it may be as simple as a smile or word of encouragement that could make all the difference in the patient experience.

DI: What career advice can you offer to veterans or current military folks who are looking to pivot, and what types of jobs should they be looking for?

Stay current in world health affairs, as well as the political climate in the US. Now more than ever, politics are shaping our approach to health care and vice versa. Veterans and current military members should make sure they have an idea of where civilian health care is, as well as where it's going in the future, so they can demonstrate their value to potential health care employers.

Devote time to discovering their passion and allow it to lead them to a profession. So often, when military members plan to transition to civilian life, they tend to focus on their ability to continue providing for their families beyond military service. This can cause us to accept positions for the sake of securing post military employment, or accept positions that are not aligned with our core beliefs, or passion.

DI: Did you always have an idea of the type of career you wanted to pursue after the military?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I began planning my exit from the military in 2005 when I discovered my passion for eliminating health disparities however, because I was a single father of a 5 year old girl, my mom convinced me to complete a full career first.

In 2004, the Navy sent me to graduate school to learn how to be a health administrator. During the summer of 2005, I interned at Wallace Thomson Hospital in rural Union County, South Carolina. While there I met a kitchen worker who impressed me with her skill in preparing meals for all of the sick patients at the hospital, specific to their individual needs. Her name was Pee Wee and even though she never finished high school, and worked a second job to make ends meet she somehow found a way to show compassion for each patient while contributing to the healing environment.

After the rotation was complete, I went back to finish graduate school and learned that Pee Wee died of a stroke. She was 52. Her death really affected me and a began to look at how a person in America could die so young of a preventable health issue. That's when I learned about health disparities and discovered my passion for eliminating them. I understand that I may not be able to complete this task in my lifetime however, I am completely comfortable with making it my life's work at Kaiser Permanente.