Women of Excellence: Lynne Doughtie | Working Mother

Women of Excellence: Lynne Doughtie

The Chairman and CEO of KPMG is our Woman of Achievement

Lynne Doughtie

The National Association for Female Executives annually celebrates women who are changing the way business is done. Click this link for the list of our latest honorees and more highlights: workingmother.com/womex.

Lynne Doughtie left the office early one Friday afternoon about 10 years ago to take her then-11-year-old daughter shopping for an outfit for a special school event. They were in the dressing room area trying on clothes when Lynne received a phone call from KPMG’s chairman and CEO.

“The music was blaring,” she recalls now with a laugh. “He must have thought I was at a party.”

Her boss was calling to offer her a promotion. She accepted—and kept shopping.

“You definitely need to lean in to your career, and there’s the time to do that,” Lynne says, “and there are times you lean in to your family.”

Named KPMG’s first female CEO and chairman last spring (she oversees the firm’s more than 29,000 U.S. employees), Lynne encourages those who work for her to celebrate their families. Her daughter is now 22 and will graduate from Virginia Tech this spring; her son, 25, is a civil engineer.

Lynne credits her own mom, who helped run a trucking business in Virginia when Lynne was a child, with being a primary role model. “My mother was a successful businesswoman. I never thought I had to choose” between motherhood and a career, she says. After her parents retired, they helped her care for her family. She remembers one evening when she called to tell her mom she’d be working late. Her mother (who passed away a few years ago) assured Lynne that her kids were fine: “She had that perspective as somebody who herself had to figure out how to balance work and taking care of the family.”

Admittedly, Lynne’s 30-year career at KPMG hasn’t always progressed according to plan. She started in the firm’s auditing business, but after about 12 years, a series of mergers and acquisitions involving her client base left her with fewer clients. At the same time, KPMG was expanding its advisory business in the market where she worked, so she took a risk and moved to a new position. The change helped her develop new skills and accelerate her career. “You can’t plan it all out,” she says. “You’re going to be thrown curveballs, and you have to be prepared to hit those curveballs out of the park.”

Lynne notes that she has benefited from KPMG’s flexible scheduling, its women’s leadership initiatives, and mentors and sponsors who invited her to events that gave her exposure and let her see broader opportunities. It’s something she carries on as a role model for young professional women. Says Lynne, “We have the responsibility at KPMG to reach in and pull them along with us.”