University of Southern California

Peter Griffith: They Call Me Moty
April 16, 2010 • by Peter Griffith

Dear Friends of Marshall:

That's my nickname now. At home and in parts of Los Angeles, I've been "MOTY" ever since the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners named me their first ever Man Of The Year. I treasure this extraordinary honor not as a personal recognition, but because I believe it salutes the principles I've built my career upon: diversity and inclusiveness.

I grew up in Southern California. My father was a physician and was on the faculty at UCLA medical school. When I expressed my interest in accounting, he told me, "Those CPAs, they're pretty smart. They're just as bright as doctors or lawyers. And if you're interested in accounting, you should go 'over there'..." My dad waved toward the east - ever since the 1967 USC/UCLA football game, he couldn't bring himself to say the name.

But he knew quality. And I saw it immediately at USC's Leventhal School of Accounting. I saw diversity and inclusiveness firsthand in my classmates, including Valedictorian Ramona Cappello. I experienced transformative teachers, such as Dr. Jack Larsen and Dr. Bill Holder.

It was at USC that I began to develop my view of transactions as a journey. It was at USC that the management strategy that has been successful for me at Ernst & Young began to take shape: teaming, integration, and inclusiveness. Build the right teams; integrate all the solution sets that a client might need; then include everyone you can possibly think of in solving the client's challenges.

The vital connection between USC and Ernst & Young has grown far beyond my personal experience. It is an honor to recruit USC students. They are diverse and magnificent not just in accounting skills, but in what we call soft skills: communication, knowing how to build relationships, being professional.

The USC Leventhal Annual Dinner is April 22, and fellow Trojan and Ernst & Young partner, Scott Porter, will be receiving the Distinguished Service Award. Somehow "DSA" doesn't have the same ring as "MOTY," but that's all right. We share a passion for our school, for our business, and for the bright future we see in the students at the USC Marshall School of Business and USC Leventhal School of Accounting. By supporting Marshall and Leventhal, you'll be opening the doors for the next Motys and Wotys of our world. Thank you for joining me in this effort.

Peter Griffith
Global Managing Partner - Operations & Finance
Ernst & Young LLP