Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert to lead WNBA

Cathy Engelbert, the outgoing CEO of Deloitte who was the first-ever woman to helm a Big Four firm, has been named the next commissioner of the Women's National Basketball Association.

Engelbert wasn’t nominated for a second term by Deloitte despite her prominence in the accounting profession and observers had been wondering what her next move would be. Instead the firm named Joseph Ucuzoglu to succeed her when her four-year term ends on June 2 (see Deloitte picks new CEO and chair in management shakeup). She will be joining the WNBA on July 17 and will report to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The WNBA’s 23rd season begins next Friday.

“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth,” Silver said in a statement Wednesday. “The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.”

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert addressing a meeting of NASBA in late 2017.

Engelbert was elected CEO at Deloitte in 2015. While there, she encouraged the firm to embrace technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics process automation and the cloud. Revenues grew over 30 percent during her tenure, and Engelbert fostered programs like Deloitte’s 16-week family leave policy.

“It is an absolute privilege to be joining the WNBA at such an exciting and important time in its history,” Engelbert stated. “I see tremendous opportunity to bolster visibility for the sport of women’s basketball, empower the players, and enhance fan engagement. I look forward to using my business expertise and passion for basketball to promote women in the game and beyond, and to working with the teams and world-class athletes to help grow this league into a thriving business.”

Engelbert will fit in with the WNBA, having played basketball while she was a student at Lehigh University. She was a member of both the basketball and lacrosse teams and served as a senior captain for both teams. On the court, she played for former Lehigh coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw. Her dad was also a basketball player. Engelbert’s father, Kurt, played for Naismith Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay at Saint Joseph’s University and was drafted in 1957 by the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.

Besides being a CPA, Engelbert has been a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion, She is the first woman to chair the Catalyst Board, a nonprofit that promotes inclusive workplaces for women. She was also the first woman to chair the Center for Audit Quality's Governing Board. Engelbert has been listed as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women for the last four years. She is ranked on Glassdoor’s annual Employees’ Choice Awards honoring the 100 Highest-Rated CEOs, and among Crain’s 50 Most Powerful Women in New York. She has also been recognized as one of Working Mother magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Moms and one of Fast Company’s Most Productive People. Engelbert is married and has two children.

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