Anne-Marie Malley becomes Deloitte Consulting’s first female boss

19 June 2019 7 min. read

Deloitte Consulting has installed its first ever female Managing Partner in the UK, with the promotion of Anne-Marie Malley. The former human capital consulting practice leader succeeds Richard Houston, who recently took over from David Sproul as the firm’s chief executive for North West Europe and the United Kingdom.

After two successful terms as CEO, replacing David Sproul at the top of Deloitte’s North West Europe and UK wing has resulted in a sea change felt across the company’s British operations. As of the start of June, Sproul stepped down, having served the maximum period allowed as leader of the Big Four firm’s regional entity, and has been succeeded by Richard Houston.

Houston’s ascension in itself reflects a shift in the firm’s approach, as the then-Managing Partner of Deloitte Consulting in the UK reportedly saw off opposition from Panos Kakoullis, a Managing Director in Deloitte's Audit practice and the firm’s Global Audit and Assurance Leader. According to sources at the time, this was in part thanks to the mounting hostility Deloitte’s accounting wing has encountered in the UK in the wake of a plethora of scandals through 2018 in particular.

Anne-Marie Malley and Richard Houston - Deloitte

Following on from Houston’s promotion, Deloitte seems to have plumped for another change of tack in the appointment of his successor. Following a rigorous appointment process for the job, during which all Partners in Consulting were questioned and presented to the UK executive team, Deloitte Consulting UK will now be led by Anne-Marie Malley. The news sees Malley become Deloitte’s first female UK Managing Partner for Consulting in the company’s history.

Consulting career

After beginning professional life in the financial services sector, spending three years at the Royal Bank of Scotland in the operations functions, Malley began a 23-year consulting career in 1996, joining Arthur Andersen before transitioning to Deloitte in 2001. Just four years later, she became a Partner at Deloitte. In 2011 Malley became the leader of Deloitte’s human capital consulting practice. In this role, she worked with some of the firm’s largest clients to implement business transformation projects and develop strategies for the future of work.

Now, having been promoted to Managing Partner Consulting, Malley will lead the practice across its five main service areas. This will see her preside over Strategy, Analytics and M&A, led by Duncan Farrow-Smith; Customer & Marketing, led by Deloitte Digital EMEA head Sam Roddick; Business Operations, led by Lorraine Barnes; Human Capital, led by Will Gosling; and Enterprise Technology & Performance, led by Rob Cullen.

Her appointment makes Malley one of five women on Deloitte UK’s executive team. She takes office alongside Emma Cox, Managing Partner Deloitte Private; Pauline Biddle, Managing Partner Regions; Donna Ward, Chief Financial Officer; and Dimple Agarwal, Managing Partner People and Purpose and Deputy UK CEO.

Speaking on her new challenge, Malley said, “Organisations across the UK are having to navigate significant obstacles and market developments. By tackling these issues head on, organisations can achieve their business objectives, whether that is to remain globally competitive, attract and retain the best people, benefit from emerging technologies or future-proof the skills of their workforce. Consultancy plays a crucial role in helping businesses solve challenges and grasp new opportunities, and I look forward to leading a dynamic team that aims to bring about a positive change throughout business and society.”

“Consultancy plays a crucial role in helping businesses solve challenges and grasp new opportunities, and I look forward to leading a dynamic team that aims to bring about a positive change throughout business and society.”
Anne-Marie Malley, Managing Partner Consulting, Deloitte UK

Commenting on the appointment of his successor, Richard Houston added, "Anne-Marie has a proven track record of being a bold and visionary leader and is keenly focused on our clients' success. I know she will bring the same enthusiasm and dedication to her new role and reinforce our leading position in delivering digital transformation programmes for our clients."

Houston moves to his new role as Senior Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte North West Europe and UK with the firm’s national consulting practice riding high. Deloitte’s consulting practice employs 5,500 people in the UK, and saw revenue grow by 1.7% to £873 million in the financial year ending 31 May 2018.

Changing industry

Malley’s promotion comes at a time when UK employers across the industrial spectrum are coming under scrutiny for their apparent lack of commitment towards diversity and inclusion. According to a recent report from Boston Consulting Group, 45% of women do not believe their boss is committed to the company’s D&I goals, despite a plethora of thought-leadership pieces, analytic exercises and industrial studies consistently telling business leaders that improving addressing issues including pay gaps and social attitudes in the recruitment process can improve business results, as well as benefitting the world beyond the office.

While the consulting sector is keen to prompt its clients to amend this situation, meanwhile, a succession of reports have found that the advisory profession is also struggling to take its own advice. Data submitted to the UK Government over the last year has shown that all of the largest consultancies operating in the UK have reported significant gender pay gaps, both in terms of the average hourly rate received by women at the firms and the average bonus gap. At the same time, the proportion of women in UK consulting has fallen, despite a recruitment boom, meaning the best paid executive jobs are far more likely to go to men.

Even when women do beat the odds to overcome the glass ceiling in consulting, taking up a leadership position at top consulting firms has often proven something of a poisoned chalice. 2018 saw Sacha Romanovitch – the first UK female CEO of a major UK professional services firm – ousted by a Partner coup at Grant Thornton, while Deloitte has also seen heightened criticism for female executives in its US wing. Just months before the ousting of Romanovitch, Cathy Engelbert was blocked from running for a second term as CEO of Deloitte US.

Both bosses had maintained some of the highest favourability among staff in the industry; both, however, displeased the ranks of their firm's equity holders, with Engelbert ultimately taking the fall for a poor 2017 at Deloitte, in which the firm was the victim of an embarrassing hacking scandal, along with a number of high-profile auditing blunders. In Romanovitch’s case, meanwhile, the end of her 28-year stay with Grant Thornton comes after overhauling the firm’s partnership structure to make it a John Lewis-style profit-sharing scheme for all staff, prompting some Partners to accuse her of pursuing a “socialist agenda.”