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Deloitte Consulting Guy Is the Frontrunner to Become Deloitte CEO Guy

The head of Deloitte’s consulting practice is the favorite to take over as the firm’s CEO … no, not in the United States but in the United Kingdom.

Sky News reported on Nov. 23 that Richard Houston, Deloitte U.K.’s managing partner of consulting, has emerged as the leading candidate to replace current CEO David Sproul, whose second four-year term ends in 2019.

Richard Houston

Deloitte’s board could meet as soon as this week to make a recommendation about Sproul’s successor to the firm’s 2,300 partners in the northwest Europe region, the article stated. More than 1,000 of those partners are based in the U.K.

But Houston might have some competition for the corner office:

Mr Houston is said to face opposition from only one potential rival; Panos Kakoullis, a managing director in Deloitte’s audit practice and the global audit and assurance leader.

A partnership vote is expected to take place in the coming weeks, although the firm declined to comment on either the timetable or the candidates to succeed Mr Sproul.

Several sources said that while Mr Kakoullis was highly regarded, Mr Houston was the “overwhelming favourite” to get the top job.

Houston, who joined Deloitte in 2002, has more than 20 years of experience within the consulting industry, according to his bio on Deloitte’s website. He also had a six-year stint at Arthur Andersen before joining Deloitte, according to his LinkedIn profile.

David Sproul

Sproul was first elected CEO in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015. Before that, he was head of tax at Deloitte U.K. and was COO of Arthur Andersen in the U.K. when the Enron scandal torpedoed the firm.

While Deloitte’s revenues have grown each year during Sproul’s time as CEO, his tenure has had some rocky moments, including the firm getting involved in the mess that is Brexit, Sky News noted:

[Deloitte] was effectively forced to agree not to bid for central government contracts for a six-month period last year after a critical memo about Brexit written by one of the firm’s consultants.

The memo, which had not been commissioned by the government, sparked fury in Downing Street after it referred to a lack of government preparation and “divisions with the cabinet” over the government’s Brexit priorities.

Deloitte has since resumed tendering for Whitehall contracts, although Sharon Thorne, the firm’s deputy chief executive for north-west Europe, risked reopening the rift a year ago when she tweeted that the then-foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was “a national embarrassment”.

Maybe that’s why Thorne is not considered one of the candidates to replace Sproul.

Deloitte U.S. may be looking for a new CEO, too, as the Wall Street Journal reported in June that Cathy Engelbert was not renominated for a second four-year term, leaving her future as the firm’s chief executive in doubt.

Engelbert was elected to a four-year term in 2015, making her the first female CEO of a Big Four firm in the U.S.