Profiles: Tracey Edwards
Managing Director of Global Business Services & Chief Knowledge Officer, Deloitte
"I wanted to make a difference, to do something that I'd feel proud of. Golden Gate gave me the foundation. Deloitte gave me the runway."
She's banked 11 million frequent flier miles, commuted between offices in India and San Jose, and traveled around the world several times, representing Deloitte in markets as different as Taiwan, South Africa and Brazil. Today, she oversees Deloitte's expansive and expanding global presence in several key service areas, from knowledge management to global business services.
Tracey Edwards epitomizes the successful career woman. A typical day might start in her San Jose office, or just as easily in Tokyo or London. Deloitte is recognized globally as the No. 1 accounting firm in the United States by annual revenue, and as an international network composed of dozens of member firms that provide audit, tax, consulting, financial advisory and risk-management services in more than 150 countries. Tracey has built much of her portfolio of responsibilities from the firm's global push, but before going down that path, she moved through a variety of different job areas.
She graduated from the GGU Law School in 1981 and after passing the California Bar exam, enrolled in the relatively new LLM Tax program. By 1983 she was armed with a brand-new LLM Tax degree, a license to practice law in California, and an undergraduate degree in biology.
"I was able to hit the ground running, I had a solid understanding of how the tax system works, thanks to my Golden Gate education. Consequently, I was able to do immediately what many people take a couple of years to learn. I moved into reviewing tax returns within months instead of years, which is most common. I knew tax law and as a result I could do all kinds of things: work on complex estates, or an M&A transaction, or an international transaction. Literally from the day I arrived, I was fully utilized."
Early in her career she was quickly identified as up-and-coming executive talent, despite the fact that she had landed at one of the world's leading accounting firms without CPA certification. She would go on to become one of the first non-CPAs to be promoted to partner in the tax division.
"The hook that I had was being an attorney, I could sign a tax return as an attorney; I didn't need to be a CPA. I was able to get to partnership rapidly, and I credit Golden Gate for that. Had I gone to Santa Clara University, where I also applied, I don't know that I would have gone down the tax path because that school didn't have that kind of strength at the time. As a result I became a partner more quickly."
The promotion opened a variety of opportunities. Within four years, she was named partner-in-charge. In 1996, she started a service line and called it the Taxation Cyberspace at the time when cyberspace was still new and mysterious.
Her work, ideas and innovative spirit were attracting attention, and she was tapped to lead Deloitte's Global Employment Services (GES). She began commuting to Dallas to complete GES's Global Advantage project. GES went from being truly at the bottom of the barrel to second in the market. Building the confidence of the team was one of the best parts of the experience. The team had named themselves the 'Bad News Bears' when she had arrived. Without changing any of the leaders, she helped the team feel invincible.
She was recruited to be the deputy for tax responsible for service lines, strategy, innovation and industry. Next came an opening in Hong Kong. As with the Dallas job, she chose to commute. It was her routine for a couple of years. The Hong Kong tour connected her to a powerful network as well.
When Deloitte began to focus on India in 2004, Tracey Edwards was a logical choice. The move into India, though, was not without controversy. Deloitte was investing significantly in developing its presence in India, with Tracey on the ground as managing principal. Kumar Kolin was the deputy managing director. Kumar, who is originally from India, said the cultural challenges alone were enormous. But she was used to change, experiencing new cultures and traveling a lot. Her parents traveled often, due to his military career. They were married in Tokyo, her brothers were born in Germany and she was born in England. California was their first non-military environment.
By 2008 Edwards was back in California as the global CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer) and the managing director for global business services, which she describes as "helping our member firms figure out how to do extended delivery." Two years earlier, she was named to the Deloitte board for a three-year term. AT her going away party, the chorus to "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner was played in her honor.
She is also a staunch supporter of Golden Gate University, a commitment she traces back to her dad.
"When I graduated from college, my father made a contribution in my name for $100. He told me 'You got a lot out of it; you should give back to it.' Because Golden Gate made such a dramatic impact on my life, the opportunity to be involved with the Law School advisory board and the GGU Board of Trustees is an honor. I am honored to participate in some small way to help guide an institution that has been important in my life."