'Do What Hasn’t Been Done'


In a reflective, personal address to Lehigh’s Class of 2018, Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert ’86 encouraged graduates to boldly pursue their passions, seek out ways to better themselves and strive to make an impact, no matter where their careers may take them.

Engelbert, who has risen to the pinnacle of her profession, stressed to graduates the importance of always remembering what matters to them most, and she assured them that great professional success can be balanced against a fulfilling family life.

She shared three life lessons that helped her on her journey:

  • Do what hasn’t been done. With the world growing ever more tech-focused, she said, it’s essential that tomorrow’s leaders find creative ways of using new technologies for good.
  • Schedule your personal updates. Just as the students must constantly update their various tech devices to ensure they are operating at peak performance, Engelbert said, so too must they undergo occasional “personal updates.” But while their smartphones may prompt them to implement software updates, she said, only they can take the initiative to move forward with their personal updates.
  • Stay anchored on what matters to you most. “For me,” she said, “that means focusing on my family.” She added: “I’m sure many of you have a purpose you’re passionate about. That doesn’t end today with graduation. ... I challenge you to take a bold stance and make a difference in your day-to-day work.”

Since graduating from Lehigh with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, Engelbert has had a distinguished career serving large and complex global clients. She previously led the U.S. audit practice and currently serves on Deloitte’s Board of Directors. Today, she advises C-Suite leaders on issues from business transformation to how technology and innovation influence the way that people work and live.

Concluding her address, Engelbert read a letter she wrote to her younger self, a letter she would write as if sitting among the students on her graduation day but having lived her experiences.

“My best advice to you in this moment, as I look back: Remember that how you respond during the challenging times really defines who you are,” she said. “Some of these challenging times turn into the best growth opportunities. It might not feel that way, but stay strong and you will succeed.”