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September 26, 2023

EY Global Chairman Carmine Di Sibio Warns Zoomers Their Careers Are Screwed If They Stick to Remote Work

a remote highway and mountains

EY Global Chairman Carmine Di Sibio wrote a piece for Quartz recently on how young professionals can navigate today’s hybrid work environment (well, his communications team did anyway) and we found a few bits particularly noteworthy for early-career accountants eager to get ahead in today’s, uh, interesting work environment. You might want to grab a pencil and write this down, kids.

In “3 tips for young employees navigating hybrid work environments,” he highlights three ways young professionals can stay connected despite ongoing efforts for all of us to avoid each other lest we spread cooties around. They are:

  1. Take part in creating the culture of a flexible workplace.
  2. Amid uncertainty, maintain an open dialogue and stay engaged.
  3. Consider the office an opportunity to connect.

Unsurprisingly, he expresses concern that fully remote environments are not conducive to the ever-important collaboration guys like him are always going on about:

While some form of continued flexibility is likely to be a key part of the future of work, it would be a mistake at most companies to try to build a long-term, lasting work culture entirely from home. Regular in-person interaction—even if it’s not every day—helps everyone maintain the qualities that make our workplaces unique and special.

As loath as we are to admit this, he’s right about that last part. When it comes to public accounting, anyway. Maybe at some point in the future there will be a roadmap for effective networking in remote environments, but for now, you’re going to need to make coffee dates if you want to get ahead. Mind you, that only applies if the “get ahead” matters to you; those of you perfectly content with “get by and get out” can continue billing hours in your underwear between competitive Overwatch matches and disregard the above suggestion because who cares as long as the work gets done.

For the young public accounting go-getters, you’re going to miss out if you never go to the office. Period. You’ll note his reference to “the next generation of leaders” here:

A Gallup survey found that employees who work from home some, but not all, of the time are more engaged. And that’s certainly what we’ve seen at EY. When it comes to developing the next generation of leaders, the office provides opportunities that can’t be replicated remotely.

Young employees need to make the most out of the time they spend with co-workers by taking charge of their careers and proactively seeking out potential mentors and interacting with colleagues. If you’re on a hybrid schedule, save independent tasks for home and maximize face-to-face time in the office. It’s critical for building a strong network early in your career and finding experienced colleagues who can serve as models.

Without being in the office and interacting face-to-face with colleagues and supervisors, it’s easy to let networking and career planning go by the wayside. But both are necessary for advancement. Now more than ever, if you want a career—not just a job—then charting a course and being your own advocate is essential.

OK, I can hear your eyes rolling from all the way over here. And it’s entirely justified, but hear me out. Since carving out a successful career at a Big 4 firm is 20% billable hours, 10% crying in a bathroom stall, and 70% politics, and since we’ve all but eliminated crying in the stall now that you can cry on your couch, all that really leaves is politics. And politics, my friends, is how guys like Carmine Di Sibio get to where they are. If that’s somewhere you want to be, you’re gonna need face-time. Regardless of what your manager says about staying home.

Photo by Sebastian Palomino from Pexels

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  1. Incredibly well written article. Couldn’t agree more. If EY stays with this position, they will have a mass exodus. Price Waterhouse went 100 percent in the other direction in response to the market as many other smaller firms are doing the same. I’ve been in this profession for 32 years. This direction of the profession has changed. Mr. Di Sibio is completely out of touch.

    1. Seems like you didn’t read the article since the conclusion is that if you want to climb the firm ladder then Carmine isn’t wrong.

  2. “…the qualities that make our workplaces unique and special.”

    This is the type of thing a workaholic who gets more fulfillment from being around co-workers than their family says. It aligns with someone who has dedicated their entire career to one company and who worked their way up to the top, surely by sacrificing a lot of quality family and personal time along the way.

    But he (and Adrienne) are right about the politics part. You don’t get to the top of any large organization just by keeping your head down and working hard.

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