Member Profile - Katie Kelly

young woman and man with dog and baby

Katie Kelly
Senior Manager, M&A Transaction Services
Deloitte and Touche, LLP

ACG Member Since: 2014
ACG Involvement: YACG, WiT, ACG Cup mentor

How have you had to adapt your business model during the shutdown? What has worked and what hasn’t?

At Deloitte, we are pivoting our capabilities within our end-to-end complimentary M&A offerings (value creation services, restructuring advisory, M&A, and divestitures services to name a few) to help our clients address their top concerns as they steer through not only unexpected challenges but also innovative opportunities in today’s economic environment. Our clients are facing or embarking on new transaction types and transformational shifts, all of which we are quickly organizing to help them respond to this, find ways to recover, and ultimately thrive in a post-crisis new normal. During this time, open communication with our clients as well as Deloitte internally to discuss firm strategy, directives, and live Q&A dialogue amongst our local teams and our broader M&A practice has been crucial. Through all of this, our firm has continued to ensure that practitioners are healthy, safe, and taking care of one another, a constant firm top priority.

The day-to-day due diligence grind was a rather seamless transition to how we work. Although we find an incredible amount of value from conducting face-to-face meetings, we have tools and technology to perform diligence virtually. This includes access to virtual data rooms and electronic data sharing solutions, teleconferences for conducting management meetings, and remote access to review workpapers. As our team has a national presence, pre-shutdown we worked with clients and team members on the West Coast, East Coast, and in other Mid-western cities – so we were already teaming in a virtual space.

What has surprised you most during this period?

How resilient we all are. Honestly. Let’s think about the definition of resilient - able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. So, it may sound cliché at this point in time during the shutdown, but it is true and I am seeing examples of this daily. It is incredibly easy to fall into the negativity trap and longing for life pre-shutdown. What’s powerful is seeing so many individuals build the capacity to recover from adversity, to push through these times of change, evolving demands, and make the best of it, showing up well for themselves and others, even on tough days. Who would have ever predicted this shutdown and economic impact? Let’s be honest and say no one.

At Deloitte, as I previously mentioned, we are positioning ourselves to help our clients come out of this season stronger: responding to navigating unchartered territory, improving in the midst of challenges/opportunities, and prospering in the post-shutdown era. I’m also proud of our YACG events team pivoting quickly from our regularly scheduled program to put on two virtual events ("Silver Linings COVID-19 + Structured Networking" and "Zoom‘n'Learn with Clum Creative"). These two events have given attendees the opportunity to connect with one another in a new way, which has proven to be valuable during this shutdown time.

How are you staying connected with your network?

Like so many, I’ve also taken advantage of technology to keep in touch with colleagues, clients, family, and friends. This could range from using Skype/Zoom/FaceTime to even a simple text to check-in with those individuals. Our firm mobilized quickly to hold weekly calls early on in the shutdown to communicate firm updates and hold Q&A sessions. It’s been great to enjoy frequent happy hours with my Cleveland M&A team as well as the YACG events planning committee to catch up on the latest quarantine happenings over a cold brewski! Everyone is doing a great job of checking in with one another to ensure our health and safety are top priority – and we are staying sane.

Do you think we will see lasting changes to how we do business as a result of this?

Absolutely. Change is tough, but it can also bring about new opportunities – it’s all about the perspective, which will continue to evolve during this ‘new normal’. And as businesses work through the shutdown and subsequently ‘new normal’, there’s no doubt that many of these changes will stick, some will continue to shift based on lessons learned. A few of these evident changes include:

  • The way we approach diligence scope on projects - refocusing on areas that we should dive more into vs. where we may not have spent time on in the past, putting more emphasis on other diligence areas (think operational due diligence, evaluating contract clauses and vendor/customer relationships, liquidity position, restructuring efforts, forecasting).
  • Working remotely we’ve proven that it is possible – and that we can be more efficient (and save costs). No doubt in-person meetings are incredibly helpful, so I think those will continue but on a reduced scale.
  • The shift away from in-person conferences, networking events will be more frequent, yet those in-person events will be changed.

There have certainly been economic winners and losers during this period. Which ones have surprised you the most?

The profound changes across various industries in a short amount of time are astounding, but make sense and are not surprising - specifically retail, tech, healthcare, travel, hospitality, and tourism. It makes for an interesting read of the daily news. I think we’re still in the early stages of many companies feeling the COVID impact, I’m curious as to what the longer-term implications will be. I think whoever focuses on innovation and effort on their core competencies will come out of this as the ‘winners’ in the long run.

Personally, being on a plane traveling once or twice a month was common in the nature of our work, so seeing the photos of nearly empty airports and airplanes hits home. I’m also a huge local business supporter, so I’m hopeful these businesses will rebound out of the ‘losing’ category and our local communities will continue to rally around those to help them through this time.

Has there been a "silver lining" for you and if so, what is it?

"In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to." – Dave Hollis.

I read this quote and was inspired almost instantly and assumed it as my ‘mantra’ during the quarantine. It is like a reset during this crazy period of time. And when you break it down, the quote is quite impactful. We’re all doing what we can to ‘survive’ quarantine – why ‘survive’? Why not ‘thrive’? I see this season of life as being afforded the gift of using this time trying to figure out what I want my ‘normal’ to look like, and spring back to. Although the days can be extended, fully utilizing extra time (not spent commuting, traveling) has allowed for me to consciously inventory what I want to focus on, who to spend time with, how we work, what matters vs. what does not, etc. It’s been great to be more present, get outdoors more, read more, meditate, catch up on our favorite TV shows, and above all watch our 9-month-old grow before our eyes and reach fun developmental milestones. I'm grateful for making the most of the extra time to figure out what "normal" looks like in a post-shutdown era!

What is your favorite ACG Cleveland event and why?

The programming that ACG, WiT, and YACG organize is unique with rich and thoughtful content. I enjoy networking and attending as many events as I can! From networking with a lakefront view at Shoreby to celebrating our clients' successes at The Deal Maker Awards, from mentoring ACG cup participants to a networking happy hour at a local Cleveland watering hole – what’s not to enjoy?! Since I have to choose favorites (I’m biased as I’m one of the YACG events committee co-chairs), our YACG events are fresh, yet diverse. We are in the process of expanding on our ideas heading into the new programming year, which is incredibly exciting and I am here for it!