C-Suite talks HR: CEO reveals secret to 100 years of success

by Emily Douglas24 Apr 2018

For a company that’s been in operation for almost 100 years, BDO Canada knows a thing or two about the necessity of being amendable.

Founded by Colonel James M. Dunwoody in the 1920s, BDO’s first office was grounded in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Going from strength to strength, the professional services firm grew to be one of the leading players in their sector, serving more than 50,000 clients and employing over 3,000 employees.

We spoke to BDO Canada’s CEO, Pat Kramer, who revealed the secret to their long-standing accomplishments.

“We’ve been in business for almost a century, and the reason we’ve been so successful is because we continually evolve. And our culture is no different. We’ve been shifting and adapting over the past few years to focus more on client relationships and solutions to their challenges.

“In the last year, we’ve been engaging our people by asking them how best to describe BDO, what we represent and what we would like to be. They chose words that were totally different from responses just a few years ago – words like diversity and collaboration and respect. They mean a lot to our people, and to me.”

Kramer went on to explain how one recent initiative highlighted BDO’s dedication to long-term development.

“We just invested heavily in technology in our Downtown Toronto office, which really fostered a high-level of collaboration between employee. I can see the results of this every day, just by walking through the office. And seeing our culture evolve so positively right in front of my eyes is immensely satisfying.

It reaffirms that culture is something every successful organization has to have in order to succeed.”

And it’s this commitment to facilitating change that separates the industry giants from the one-trick ponies. Culture isn’t really something that can be measured analytically, rather it’s a feeling that needs to emanate from the Boardroom and into the workshop floor.

“My experience is that the best Board and leadership teams are the ones that not only bring diverse skills to the table, but those which comprise of a broad range of diversity,” continued Kramer.

“I find that those groups have the best conversations about the future of the organization, about facilitating change, productivity and success. From an organizational perspective, BDO is committed to fostering that diversity. We recently established a diversity and inclusion officer last year, and she now has a new council to help support her in the new role.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to CEOs to set the standard and hit the targets within the organization. We cannot just expect that something’s going to change with time – it’s important that executives like myself set the level.

“Diversity makes us better as a firm; our values become much more prominent, we have an aligned purpose and our integrity is stronger.”


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