Member Profile - Tom Libeg


Partner, Transaction Advisory Services, Grant Thornton LLP

Tom Libeg's Member Profile Header

Tom and his family are making the most of it with long family dinners, board games, nature walks, kite flying, and more!

ACG Member Since: 2013
ACG Involvement: Current Board Member and Executive VP of Programs Committee

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

Like so many others, Grant Thornton has been working from home since the early stages of the pandemic in March. It has certainly been a roller coaster over the past few months, but I am so proud of how our team has responded. Our teams pivoted quickly to working remotely by utilizing technology tools to deliver world-class client service without missing a beat.

I found it more critical than ever to be intentional in everything you do. The opportunity to catch up with colleagues by stopping by their office or grabbing an impromptu lunch has just not been an option.

Our Cleveland TAS team set up video calls each week to make sure we touch base as a group. They started off as an informal catch-up on how everyone was doing personally, but quickly evolved into a few trivia games and team “Show and Tells” where each team member was responsible for teaching the group something about themselves or a topic that interests them. I learned quite a bit about the most efficient ways to use travel points, how to repair a hole in drywall and the physics of a Major League curveball, just to name a few.

What has surprised you most during this period?

I have never been a person who could effectively work at home – I’ve always felt distracted, conflicted, and unproductive. But it is amazing what you can do when you have no other option! After a transition period the first few weeks, I feel like I was able to settle in. I have to give a ton of credit to my amazing wife, who handled the lion’s share of the homeschooling activities for our four kids and all of the teachers who adjusted on the fly to provide the best experience possible for their students.

How are you staying connected with your network?

One of the positives I found through this period is that so many people had the attitude of "we’re all in this together." Almost all we see and read in the news these days is negative, but I’ve talked to so many people who just really care … not just about themselves, but about their employees, clients, co-workers, and community around them.

For me, staying connected has been mostly about picking up the phone/video conference and reconnecting with friends, colleagues, clients, and referral sources. It has been a great time to connect on a personal level, especially with those who live in other states or regions whose experiences might be different than what we are seeing here.

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

We absolutely will, and so much of it will be for the better.

  • People are challenging long-held ideas of where they have to physically live, work, and travel. The idea of traveling full days (often with connecting flights) for short in-person meetings are largely going to be a thing of the past.
  • The trend towards smaller, more flexible office space will continue as more employees use flexible arrangements working remotely either full-time or part-time.
  • More companies are realizing they can hire better talent more cost-effectively by considering remote working options. In today’s world, it may not make sense to have so many employees located in high cost of living areas – this could be a great opportunity for cities like Cleveland.

With the tools at our disposal, many of these changes would have certainly taken place without the pandemic over time … but the events of the past few months have accelerated the adoption by years or maybe even decades.

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

Without question, the healthcare community and other frontline workers have faced the most significant challenges during the pandemic. There are countless other essential businesses that continue to keep our communities safe and operational – like foodservice, infrastructure, telecommunications – the list goes on. While some industries have been more challenged than others, resiliency, innovation, and determination are hallmark traits of our economy, and these will prove to be the difference makers over time for even the most impacted markets currently.

I think the biggest surprises are yet to come - there are so many smart, innovative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs out there working to solve so many of the challenges we have faced over the past few months.

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

I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to spend a tremendous amount of time with my family over the past few months. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life – it was fun to slow down for long family dinners, board games, nature walks, kite flying ... and even try a science experiment or two (not necessarily successfully).

Rather than being out to lunch with colleagues or clients, I’d spend that time having batting practice with my two older boys or helping my daughter learn to ride a two-wheeler – she had it down cold after a day of hard work!

What is your favorite ACG Cleveland event and why?

The Deal Maker Awards is such an outstanding opportunity to reconnect with so many great people in one place. I’m also inspired by the winners each year and enjoy hearing their stories of entrepreneurship and leadership. Deal Maker's is truly a celebration of what Northeast Ohio is all about – a great place to live and work!

What words were you most looking forward to hearing this past week?

“We’re underway at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario!”