179: A Leader of Leaders | Errol Gardner - Global Vice Chair EY Consulting

The Leadership Enigma

15-12-2023 • 53 mins

Errol Gardner is the Global Vice Chair (Consulting) for Ernst & Young. He is a member of the Executive Team and leads the consulting practice  globally of over 125,000 people.  EY has over 400,000 employees in 154 countries and in 2022 they received over 2 million job applications.
Errol's job incudes defining the strategy for consulting and making sure they are clear on their market proposition for clients and ensuring his people are thriving. I ask Errol about the responsibility of being part of a broader global executive team leading over400,000 as a leader of leaders and how he tries to cascade the human centred approach through all levels of the organisation. Errol's role requires him to travel for 60% of the year as he meets people within the organisation who help him sense-check and sense-make  what unites them and what is important at the local level. Errol understands that as he travels around the various EY global offices, he is a role model to many people that he does not personally know, however his leadership shadow is cast far and wide.
Errol recounts the George Floyd incident during the pandemic and the ripple impact it had on people who became much more vocal within their own organisations as regards injustice and for Errol it became a catalyst to become a voice for those who needed advocacy and so the Global Social Equity Task Force was born.
EY has a fundamental role within many global businesses (financial integrity) but also sees itself as a Force for Good in the world's challenge areas such as sustainability, equity and social justice which Errol explains is brought to life though the very purpose of the business. 'EY Ripples' is just one example of such an internal initiative.
Errol was born and bred in Leeds attending the local comprehensive and knew immediately the difficulties of being a black child in a predominantly white area, which in turn provided him the resilience and mechanisms to thrive.
He started his professional career in 1990 leaving University to work in audit. He quickly took the opportunity to go to Jamaica (his parents are Jamaican, his father was on board one of the original Windrush ships) and after 5-6 months he was luckily offered a consultancy role and never looked back, this was in Errol's words his 'sliding door moment.'  Jamaica provided Errol the unique opportunity to grow his confidence working within a predominantly black environment and understand the dynamics of prejudice, inclusivity and the power of diversity of thought. He returned to the UK knowing that there were no excuses for him other than to show up and make a difference.
Today Errol reflects on his incredible career and feels an obligation to help others to achieve their dreams. He loves working in a people business and providing opportunities for others to learn and thrive.
Leading a global business requires a constant awareness of trends and critical geo political issues in an ever changing world and having a presence in 154 countries means that EY can remain a force for positive change.
Errol is a human centred leader of leaders who uses his experiences and interactions as a constant reminder that people are at the heart of all success. All leaders create a lived experience for those around them, let 2024 be the year for creating the conditions for all to thrive and succeed.
Enjoy this wonderful episode.







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