Jane Phelan

Management Consulting, KPMG
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What do you do for work? Give us a few reasons why you love it.
I work for KPMG’s Management Consulting practice. I love what I’m doing because I work with smart, hard-working, and dedicated people. Everyone I’ve interacted with at KPMG is committed to professional excellence. In addition, for the first time in my career, I can truly see opportunity for my own professional growth and development. KPMG is a global network of member firms, and you can be quite sure that if you are looking for someone with certain expertise to draw upon, you will find them. The firm has invested support systems and technologies to enable consultants to work at client sites and remotely, allowing staff to focus on getting the job done.
 
Your current company aside, name 2 other companies in any industry that you admire and explain why.
Warby Parker: I studied social business/shared value models in graduate school. Warby Parker is a company I was introduced to in my coursework, and I’ve followed them closely over the last few years. I admire Warby Parker for its disruptive business model that focuses on not only product differentiation through cost, but differentiation through branding and style. In addition, they’re trying to do some good in the world through sales of their product. I’ve seen many social businesses focus on the social impact before the business and as a result fail to gain significant traction. The founders come from a social business background – they’re aiming to do good, but are not willing to cut corners on the business front to make that possible.

Sanergy (Fresh Life Toilets): A similar story – I learned about Sanergy in graduate school. Sanergy is a social business aiming to increase access to improved sanitation in Kenya through a franchise model. Through market research, Sanergy learned that creating a lifestyle brand was just as essential as getting toilets out into the marketplace. They did their research and thought critically about their assumptions. They didn’t come to the market with a pre-defined solution.
 
In your opinion, what is wrong with the corporate world and how would you fix it?
I think there is more work to be done in the corporate world to make workplaces family-friendly as being a parent still poses immense challenges for a career. I think childcare in the workplace could go a long way, as could increasing flexibility on working hours and location. At KPMG we have great tools and support to manage the transition to becoming a working parent. For example, our Parent Career Coaching program offers one on one coaching either before, during or after the birth of child. These types of tools help ease the stress of juggling work and family.
 
Where do you expect to be in 5 years?
In five years, I aim to be leading a team of people who are all happy to come to work every day because they know their work is important and they are valued. It is my sincere hope that the work we’ll be doing will contribute toward making people healthier, better educated, or more empowered.
 
How do you measure success at work? In life?
Ultimately, I measure my success at work by the relationships I build – both with clients and with my colleagues. If I don’t come out of a difficult project or task without strong relationships and some fun stories to tell, I’ve done something wrong.