Seema Pajula

Seema Pajula

Vice Chairman & US Industries and Insights Leader


Deloitte

New York, NY USA


I tried to hide my diversity and my differences because I thought that was something that was going to hold me back. But that wasn’t the case—it was my own insecurities holding me back.

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Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
I was raised by a single mother who emigrated from India to the U.S.
As a child, I had lofty ideas for what I wanted to be when I grew up: a bus driver, the first female major league baseball player, the person who cured cancer, and even a shark researcher.
I attended Northern Illinois University, where I started out pursuing my dreams of studying sharks and curing cancer, but eventually discovered I had an interest in business and accounting.
Graduated with my bachelor’s degree in accounting and earned my certified public accountant (CPA) license.
My first job out of college was working as a manager for Arthur Andersen & Co.—I worked there for six years until the company collapsed in 2002 as a result of the Enron scandal.
After that, I began reevaluating my career but, with support from my former clients, I decided to continue working in this industry and got a job at Deloitte as an audit manager.
In 2008, I made partner at the firm and, in 2016, I became the first woman of color to serve as the managing partner for Consumer & Industrial Products Industry group.
In 2019, I became the consumer industry leader for all of the U.S. audit, tax, advisory, and consulting services at Deloitte.
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Bachelor
Accounting
Northern Illinois University
Certification/License
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Career

Vice Chairman & US Industries and Insights Leader

I lead all of the U.S. industries, development for partners, and all Deloitte research.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Business
Numbers
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

I travel a few days each week visiting clients or account teams. I focus on developing financial plans/strategies for our largest accounts. I also spend a significant amount of time in succession planning on accounts and partner evaluations and deployment. Finally, I am leading our research agenda from a firm perspective, so we are eminent in that area.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I would say EQ (emotional intelligence) skills are critical. Auditing requires an understanding of the economy, the basics of financial statements, what it takes to run a business, and how to build relationships. You need to be willing to speak up, fight, and question things.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

I think grit, tenacity, and hard work is key. Get a good foundational education with a college degree and strive for excellence in your grades. Auditing is the foundation of business. Once you understand auditing, you understand almost everything within the business realm, so start with that.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Accounting
certification
Certification/License
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You will never fit the mold of a partner in one of the largest professional services firms in the world."

Challenges I Overcame

First-Generation Immigrant
Work-Life Balance
Racial and Gender Discrimination