As deputy chair and COO of KPMG U.S., Laura Newinski (BBA87) helps lead a firm focused on delivering top-notch audit, tax, and advisory services to clients in dozens of industries around the world. Growing up in Eldridge, Iowa, a small town near the Quad Cities, Newinski says she didn’t understand what a career in business would offer, and she credits her Tippie professors, her job in the University of Iowa treasurer’s office, and classmates for helping her to chart her own path.
What’s your favorite memory of your time at Tippie?
Being a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a fraternity for men and women interested in careers in business. The friends I made in the fraternity are my best friends and people I vacation with today. Most of us were first generation business majors and so we learned the ropes together. My son just started a Delta Sigma Pi chapter at his college!
Is there a class you’d take again?
Yes! It was a Judeo-Christian tradition religion course taught by Rabbi Jay Holstein. His course inspired a curiosity in me that lives on today. I was raised Catholic, and Rabbi Holstein opened my eyes to the differences between world religions, but also the bridges that connect us all. Throughout my career, I have worked to create bridges, and recently, I helped to kick off Accelerate 2025, which is KPMG’s five-year strategic plan to create a more inclusive workplace—a workplace that looks more like America. We strongly believe that diverse experience and opinions will lead to better decision-making and better business outcomes.
What career advice would you give those that want to follow in your footsteps?
I would encourage them to imagine a career jungle gym, not a career ladder. Here’s why: When you’re on a jungle gym, sometimes you have to let go of a bar, or move down a bar before you can move up. If you think of your career like a jungle gym, you will gather and accumulate experiences, not just promotions. Also, if you’re stuck on a ladder and someone is in front of you, when you look up, what do you see? On a jungle gym, you can have all sorts of different views, and you can see your organization or industry from all different angles and not find yourself stuck in a frustrating place on the corporate ladder.
How will you leave your mark on KPMG? What would you like to see change or improve under your leadership?
One of my most important legacies is the Accelerate 2025 plan that I launched on July 1, 2020 with Paul Knopp, chair and CEO of KPMG U.S. Our goal is to transform the face of KPMG, and we plan to make that happen through changing how we recruit, promote, and retain people. We believe that we have to alter the experiences that we offer our diverse population to ensure that they have rich and rewarding career development. The end goal of the initiative is to strengthen our culture and provide the best experience for our most talented people. Our competitors may be able to copy our services, but they won’t be able to copy our culture, and that is what will truly differentiate KPMG.
This article first appeared in the 2020 issue of Iowa Ledger.