Deloitte leaders enjoy 'once in a life-time' meeting with Pope Francis

11 November 2022 5 min. read
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Across the globe, Deloitte organises thousands of meetings with leading executives and government officials per year. But for most – if not all – of the 500 Deloitte senior staff that recently flew into Rome, the meeting they had with Pope Francis is one they will likely never forget.

First founded in 1845, Deloitte has since grown to become the largest consulting and accounting focused professional services group 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 – from FTSE100 executives, to Prime Ministers and Presidents. Even then, though, it is not every day the firm consults with a higher power.

Deloitte leaders enjoy 'once in a life-time' meeting with Pope Francis

In September, 500 Deloitte consultants were presented with a ‘once in a life-time’ opportunity, to meet the head of the Catholic church. Pope Francis greeted the advisory giant’s congregation in the Vatican, before delivering an address in which he encouraged the professionals to become “integral consultants”, helping to reorient humanity’s “way of living on this planet,” which he said had damaged the world “in terms of both the climate and inequality.”

Pope Francis went on, “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. Indeed, dignified employment for people, care for our common home, economic and social value, and positive impact on communities are all interconnected.”

The meeting was in fact the first instance of a private company being given a private audience by the Pope, and reflecting the gravity of the situation, Deloitte’s delegation was spearheaded by many of the firm’s most senior partners, including CEO Punit Renjen.

Following the encounter, Deloitte’s senior leaders then convened to discuss the firm’s strategy, innovation agenda and key achievements across the world, as part of Deloitte's World Meeting 2022, which took place in Italy’s capital city in the same period.

Great impact

Many of the Deloitte professionals present were deeply moved by the Pope’s address. Adel Melek, Global Vice Chair of Advisory, said it was “a once in a life-time opportunity. I’ll never forget the moment.”

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.”

Ivana Lorencovicova, Managing Partner of Deloitte in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, noted being “very honoured to meet Pope Francis during Deloitte’s Global World meeting”,  and similarly cited a determination to tackle “the global climate crises, inequalities and in creating better world for future generations.”

Lorencovicova added that Deloitte was already taking an active role on this front, helping “to lead the world’s transition to a lower-carbon future,” and supporting “communities creating better futures together.”

At the same time, Martin Søegaard, Managing Partner of Deloitte Consulting in the Nordics, noted that the “out of this world special and a once in a lifetime experience” had seen the Pope make “very tangible suggestions about how Deloitte, as a leading professional services firm, could further impact the world.”

He concluded that the experience was “not only unique but also very inspiring”, and that he was “truly proud of our purpose and the impact we make every day as an organisation.”

Serving a higher power

While this was the first time a sitting Pope had granted a Vatican meeting with a private company, the Pope is no stranger to what the professional services world has to offer the spiritual. 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. In 2018 the Church of England put its faith in the consulting industry, tasking McKinsey & Company with broadening the Church’s appeal to Christians working in the City of London.