John Veihmeyer, chairman and CEO of the global accounting firm KPMG, has some advice for anyone interested in knowing what’s really going on in the world.
“Don’t believe anything you hear on CNBC or MSNBC,” Veihmeyer told students at the Freeman School. “All you do if you watch those programs is get really depressed about the state of the world.”
Veihmeyer visited the Freeman School in February to speak to students as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
Despite what you might hear on the cable news channels, Veihmeyer said most of his major clients are optimistic about the economy’s direction.
“The CEOs I’m meeting with, particularly those that lead large multinationals here in the U.S., are generally feeling pretty good about their companies and their prospects over the next 12 to 15 months,” Veihmeyer said. “I think you could actually see a bigger bounce in the U.S. economy than most people are predicting.”
The European sovereign debt crisis could still derail the U.S. economy, Veihmeyer added, but he expressed confidence that officials there understand the gravity of the situation and won’t allow a collapse of the euro.
Veihmeyer closed out his talk with some advice for students about to start their careers. Looking back on his 35 years at KPMG, Veihmeyer urged students to be open to new and unplanned opportunities, to find people within their companies who care about them and can help their careers, and, most importantly, to always maintain a high degree of personal integrity.
“It’s not the earth-shattering, big ethical decisions [that make the biggest difference],” he said. “It’s the little things you do eight times a day that I think define your reputation as an individual and how trustworthy you are.”
In addition to his talk, Veihmeyer also took the opportunity to announce a gift. KPMG partners, retired partners and employees, supported by matching gifts from the KPMG Foundation, together pledged $150,000 to establish the KPMG LLP Professorship in Accounting at the Freeman School, which will support the teaching and research of an outstanding accounting professor.
“You’ve been a great sources of talent for us,” Veihmeyer said. “We hope that continues to expand and we want to help in that effort.”