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Bold Leader Spotlight: Larry Quinlan, Deloitte Global CIO

Larry Quinlan is a bold leader.

Deloitte is one of the world’s largest professional services firms in the world, operating in over 150 countries and territories, providing audit and assurance, tax, legal, risk, and financial advisory and consulting services. Technology services, risk management, cybersecurity, and even change-management processes are all in its wheelhouse. Understanding this, the role Larry Quinlan serves for Deloitte as Global CIO demands bold leadership in many capacities. Examining Quinlan’s approach to bold leadership provides an array of important insights for all professionals.

Bold Business exclusively interviewed Larry Quinlan at the 2019 Synapse Summit.

From operating off a foundation of humility to empowering others to succeed, to constantly adapting to change, Quinlan exhibits numerous traits of a bold leader. It should come as no surprise that his bold leadership resulted in his induction into the CIO Hall of Fame in 2018, making him one of only 120 leaders who have one this award.

Larry Quinlan’s Foundation of Humility

Quinlan’s start in the world of business and technology was less glamorous than one might expect. Growing up on a tiny island in the West Indies, his first job involved working in his father’s business. But he soon found his passion for technology while pursuing his MBA in New York. Still, he maintained a humble perspective by appreciating his roots and the people he met along the way. In fact, Quinlan continues to empower others in the Caribbean as a regular guest speaker at the University of the West Indies (UWI) events. He also sponsors scholarships at the UWI in memory of his late father, JD Quinlan, and serves on the advisory board of the American Foundation for The University of the West Indies (AFUWI) and co-chairs the AFUWI Gala each year.

cartoon of Larry Quinlan of Deloitte
As Larry Quinlan advanced into his current Global CIO role, he has kept his humility as a bold leadership trait.

As Quinlan advanced into his current Global CIO role, he has kept this humility as a bold leadership trait. He often uses humility as a core guiding principle in his leadership philosophy. By constantly reminding himself, “I could be wrong,” he strives to learn and grow continually. At the same time, this perspective helps prevent opinion and complacency to interfere with insight and innovation. From his point of view, humility is an essential aspect of bold leadership skills.

Bold Leadership by Empowering Others to Succeed

Another essential guiding principle of Quinlan’s bold leadership involves value and respect for others. From his perspective, every person has important insights and information that can be utilized. Failing to recognize this wastes important resources and undermines inclusion, collaboration, and innovation. In contrast, bold leadership that invites participation from diverse individuals promotes success for all. This is an essential aspect of Quinlan’s bold leadership perspective.

As Global CIO at Deloitte, the ability to oversee every single acquisition or change in technology is impossible. At the same time, having such tight control undermines efficiency and productivity. As a result, Quinlan appreciates the importance of delegating to others and empowering them in the process. Thus, he invests heavily in enabling others to make their own choices while creating ecosystems to support this. In doing so, his bold leadership optimizes the productivity and growth of everyone around him.

Larry Quinlan empowers and delegates
As a bold leader, Larry Quinlan has empowered others to succeed and delegated effectively.

Bold Leadership: Constantly Adapting to Change

With advancing technology and over 286,000 employees at Deloitte, being adaptable for a CIO is a critical requisite. But Quinlan embraces this philosophy in his bold leadership approach as well. For instance, different individuals require different leadership styles. Quinlan may adopt a servant leadership approach in some contexts and a transformative one in another. By being comfortable with change, he promotes innovation and creativity throughout the entire enterprise.

Through emotional intelligence, empathy and active listening, Quinlan constantly invites adaptability in leadership approaches. Likewise, he also encourages others and himself to challenge the status quo. Especially in a rapidly evolving global technology arena, Quinlan appreciates the need for adaptability throughout the organization. Thus, by fostering its development in others and in Deloitte’s processes, he furthers the enterprise’s ultimate success.

Larry Quinlan describes his bold leadership
The CIO of the largest professional services firm in the world has made bold leadership a cornerstone of his success.

Giving Back to Create a Better Future

In Quinlan’s approach to clients, he strives to implement technology changes that improve their lives. In doing so, he wants to communicate that Deloitte cares about them. This fosters both trust and a positive perspective concerning technology use. But Quinlan’s focus on others extends well beyond clients and colleagues. His bold leadership perspective also affects many outside the organization.

Larry Quinlan talking bold leadership.
Deloitte CIO Larry Quinlan has shown bold leadership in his time with the largest professional services firm in the world.

At Deloitte, Quinlan serves as dean to the company’s Next Generation CIO Academy. This leadership development program helps CIOs develop key skills to be tomorrow’s leaders. Quinlan also currently serves or has recently served on the advisory boards of NPower, the Executive Leadership Council, the National Initiative for Cyber Education, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Samsung Business Executive Advisory Board, and Miami Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). He is chair of the Information Technology Committee of the United Way of Miami-Dade and co-chairs the Global Leadership Forum Board.

All of these activities reflect Quinlan’s desire to give back to others both within the organization and outside of it. But more than that, they show that his bold leadership strives to give back to create a better future.


For more on Deloitte, check out Bold Business’ look at its WorldClass initiative.

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