Baker Tilly names Francesca Lagerberg as first female global CEO

23 June 2022 3 min. read
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Francesca Lagerberg has been appointed as the new CEO of Baker Tilly International, becoming the first woman to lead the network.

Global professional services firm Baker Tilly Internaional has after a long wait announced its new CEO; London-based former Grant Thornton executive Francesca Lagerberg. She will now lead a top-ten accounting and consulting network spanning almost 150 territories, with a global headcount pushing 40,000 generating revenues in excess of $4 billion.

“Francesca is a progressive leader who brings a wealth of experience and has the unique perspective of leading at both an enterprise and global network level,” said Baker Tilly International Chairman and US CEO Alan Whitman, who added that Lagerberg was the right leader at the right time for the strategically growing firm.

Baker Tilly names Francesca Lagerberg as first female global CEO

“With Francesca’s leadership, we will inspire our clients and our people to create a bold tomorrow,” said Whitman.

Lagerberg enters the role with more than two and a half decades worth of professional services experience, in particular in relation to tax and cross-border and international support. A law graduate from the University of Birmingham, Lagerberg joined the UK branch of Grant Thornton as a partner in 2006 following a stint as national tax director for UK advisory Smith & Williamson, which this month rebranded to Evelyn Partners.

After leading Grant Thornton’s UK tax practice and National Tax Office, which had a headcount of over 800 professionals, Lagerberg in 2013 joined the international organisation as global head of tax. Since then, she has also held a number of other roles at the global level, including as head of people & culture and most recently as network capability lead, through which she set up Grant Thornton’s International Business Support function.

Lagerberg now becomes the first women to lead Baker Tilly globally, a still rare occurrence among the world’s largest accounting and consulting networks. While Deloitte’s Sharon Thorne has ascended to global chair, the first women to hold the role in the firm’s 175-year history, none of the Big Four have yet to appoint a female global CEO. As a rare exception, Jean Stephens has led RSM since 2006, the first women to head a top-ten accountancy.

“I am excited by the opportunity of joining Baker Tilly, a network with significant ambition and breadth, and I look forward to working with our member firms on the next stage of growth and development,” Lagerberg said of her appointment, adding her thanks on LinkedIn to her colleagues and friends at Grant Thornton from the past 15 years, as well as for the leadership of her predecessor Ted Verkade, who led the firm for over five years.

A Dutch national, Verkade has been with Baker Tilly for close to four decades, making partner of the Netherlands member in 1996 before stepping into the global CEO role in 2016. Listed as a consultant with the firm’s Utrecht office since the start of the year, Verkade first announced his intention to step down in January of 2021, having successfully led Baker Tilly through a substantial period of growth and overseen a global rebrand.