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Kathleen Farlow on “leading from the front”

Bobby Jenkins (ABC Home & Commercial), Kathleen Farlow (Deloitte) and Jeff Thomas (H-E-B)

As we wrap up one campaign season, we are proud to welcome Kathleen Farlow, managing partner for Deloitte LLP’s Central Texas practice, as our Campaign Co-Chair for the 2013 Employee Campaign season!

 

How long have you been involved with United Way and in what way(s)?

I have been involved with the United Way for more than 20 years.

Initially, my participation was through the traditional payroll deduction, but after I learned more about United Way and all the good things it brings to the community, I began volunteering on various United Way-related projects with Deloitte and on committees at the chapter level. Prior to my October 2012 appointment as Deloitte LLP’s Central Texas managing partner and my move to Austin, I served as a member of the United Way of Greater Houston Audit and Finance Committees.

As my hands-on participation with United Way increased, I committed more of my time and financial resources. Today I’m proud to be a member of the Tocqueville Society and have encouraged colleagues and friends to do likewise.

“There is nothing like the feeling of giving back to the community. It also reminds me of how fortunate I am to live in a place where there is opportunity for success and where caring for one another is still a core belief.”

– Kathleen Farlow

What inspires you personally to give back? How does United Way fit into that?

There is nothing like the feeling of giving back to the community. It also reminds me of how fortunate I am to live in a place where there is opportunity for success and where caring for one another is still a core belief.

Not only does United Way do great things for our community, it makes it easy for people to give back.  Everyone is busy these days, and they don’t always have the time or opportunity to research and support various organizations. By offering payroll deduction as a means of giving to the community, United Way provides an easy way for businesses to enable their employees to support the causes and organizations that they care about.

What do you think is the role of a company in the community? Why is it important for businesses to give back?

Deloitte’s strong and diverse culture of community service is one reason why I enjoy working and volunteering. United Way, nonprofit organizations assisted through United Way, and many other worthy charitable endeavors provide great opportunities to make a difference in our community across a wide range of issues. Assisting in education, child development, women’s issues, underrepresented minorities, immunization, elimination of poverty, sustainability—there is a broad platform of opportunities.

Each year Deloitte also devotes an entire day to community service. We call it “IMPACT Day” and this year it takes place on June 7. Community involvement teams from Deloitte locations across the United States will be assisting schools, nonprofit organizations, and other community groups with a wide variety of services—from assisting them with strategic plans, to providing career counseling for students, to repairing or refurbishing infrastructure, to planting gardens, and everything in between. It’s a fulfilling and mutually beneficial day for our volunteers and the beneficiaries.

How do you think businesses benefit from being involved?

Deloitte believes—and I believe—the business community has a powerful role to play in helping nonprofits drive social progress. As current research indicates, community-related organizations need more than just time and money to help our communities thrive:  they need professional skills.
Deloitte Makes Austin Greater
Deloitte is paving the way for businesses to help address this need by modeling a strategic approach to community involvement. It puts the talent of our people at the center of our outreach efforts. We do this in three ways:

1. Leveraging our innovative thinking to strengthen nonprofit capacity so that nonprofits can help more people and communities;

2. Complementing our innovative thinking with strategic investments of financial resources through large-scale grants and regional donations; and

3. Creating and sharing new research, content, and insights to advance the field of corporate community involvement.

Ultimately, our unique approach maximizes results in the community while strengthening our business. We integrate this strategy into the way we recruit, develop, and connect our people, as well as how we develop relationships and reputation in the marketplace.

What excites you most about being back in Austin?

Central Texas is a great place to watch the future unfold and to be a part of it.  I attended graduate school at UT and have roots and family in this part of the state. From a business perspective, the greater Austin marketplace continues to attract a variety of established enterprises and start-up ventures seeking to capitalize on the region’s keen interest in innovation and technology.

When thinking about the future of our community, how do you hope Austin will look in 20 years? What are you concerned about for Austin’s future?

In 20 years I expect the City of Austin to be a household name with a booming, diversified economy but with the same unique culture and community spirit we enjoy today.

I have no immediate concerns for Austin’s future. The city has a track record and legacy of adapting to change. Continuous reinvention is the new urban norm and Austin is a leader.

How do you see your role as Campaign Co-Chair? What do you hope to bring to the table?

The annual campaign touches more donors than any other United Way activity, and it is critical to our ability to fund a wide variety of nonprofit organizations and good causes. Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria believes in the philosophy “Lead from the front,” and this sentiment has been embraced throughout Deloitte. My co-chair and I plan to be visible and engaged in every aspect of the campaign and to empower other volunteer leaders to do the same.

Good leadership also involves good listening, and we plan to reach out often. Any good business model has a feedback component, data points, and something that aggregates all the information, such as a dashboard. Details are important, but so is a continuous focus on the big picture. We plan to be agile and flexible in order to respond to conditions in the field and to what’s happening in the marketplace. We know there is a steady drumbeat of good causes looking for funding. We have to make sure United Way messages play in the right channels and reach the many donors and potential donors in the greater Austin area.

What makes Austin greater for you?

I think Austin is “greater” because we enjoy an unsurpassed lifestyle here. This city has a unique culture—college town, tech center, music, arts and other cultural attractions—that makes it easy to achieve a true work-life balance.

 

 

About Deloitte Community Involvement

Deloitte helps communities thrive through innovative thinking to strengthen nonprofit capacity, so nonprofits can benefit more people and communities faster and better; complementing innovative thinking with an investment of financial resources; and by creating and sharing new research, content and insights on ways organizations can leverage skills-based volunteerism.  For more information on Deloitte’s award-winning community involvement initiatives, please visit www.deloitte.com/us.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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