Consulting is a business all about advice, and veterans of its top firms are no strangers to getting their intelligence from a variety of sources – but even experts from Deloitte are unlikely to come across the kind of insight they received from the Pope Francis. In a historic meeting, the leader of the Catholic Church granted an audience with a private enterprise for the first time, in order to give some 500 Deloitte professionals advice on how to make the world a better place.
This year, Deloitte’s World Meeting 2022 took place in Rome – and saw the firm’s senior figures convene to discuss the firm’s strategy, innovation agenda and key achievements around the world. With the Big Four firm in town, the Pope took the opportunity to address some of the world’s most influential consultants – in a bid to address some of the global challenges communities face around the world.
The Pope told the professionals, “Our planet continued to suffer from the effects of climate change; cruel and hidden wars were being fought in various regions, and tens of millions of people have been forced to migrate from their homelands. While daily life improved for one part of humanity, the other part has become the main victim of a sort of counter-development. What can professional consultants do in this difficult and uncertain situation? They can do a great deal by organising their analyses and proposals with an integral perspective and vision.”
The religious leader expanded on this with three suggestions for promoting a more just and humane world. The first, the Pope said, was “always to remain aware that you can leave a mark” – or in other words, to be “well aware of your power”, and leverage it to aim at advancing integral human development. He added that this should be accompanied by “the desire to direct your analysis and proposals towards choices consistent with the paradigm of integral ecology.”
The Pope’s second suggestion was for the executives “to take up and fulfil your cultural responsibility, which also stems from your wealth of intelligence and connections.” Meanwhile, his third suggestion was to enhance diversity.
First founded in 1845, Deloitte has since grown to become the largest professional services network by revenue and number of professionals in the world. Thanks to this stature, its 345,000 staff are no strangers to working for some of the world’s largest companies, and most powerful individuals. But while its experts have spoken to FTSE100 executives, Prime Ministers and Presidents, talking to the Pope was a unique opportunity for the 500 consultants at the Vatican.
Many of the Deloitte professionals present were deeply moved by the Pope’s address. Ian Geddes, a Member of Executive Board at Deloitte in the UK, noted it had been “a privilege and humbling experience having an audience with the Pope”, while Adel Melek, Global Vice Chair of Advisory, added it was “a once in a life-time opportunity” that the consultants would never forget.
Leon Pieters, Global Consumer Industry Leader at Deloitte, meanwhile added that he felt “privileged to have met Pope Francis in the Vatican” due to it being “the first time in the Vatican history the Pope has welcomed a delegation of a commercial organisation.” Pieters added that after the Pope emphasised that companies should make the difference to do good, he felt it was now “our obligation to become more purpose driven and leave this world as a better place for the next generation.”
Serving a higher power
The Pope is no stranger to what the professional services world has to offer. In 2021, he reportedly requested the assistance of former Bain & Company consultant Pier Francesco Pinelli for a new reform package, and the founding of two new dicasteries. In 2014, meanwhile, McKinsey & Company was drafted in to help the Vatican reboot its communications operations. Shortly after, the Vatican’s Ministry of Communications drafted in Accenture to unify the current array of independent communication channels under a single new portal: Vatican News.
The Catholic church is not the only religious institution to look to consultants for advice, either. The Church of England put its faith in the consulting industry as of 2018, tasking McKinsey & Companywith broadening the Church’s appeal to Christians working in the City of London.