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Deloitte’s Federal Practice Leader Discusses How the Company Drives Social Change

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Dan Helfrich

 

By Mark Matsuura (MBA'18)

Although the consulting industry has traditionally been associated with adding value to the private sector, there is a growing need for consultants to lend their expertise to government agencies and non-profit organizations.

On September 26, the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business hosted “Consulting for Impact: Deloitte’s Role in Driving Innovation” with Dan Helfrich, Federal Government Services Leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP and a Georgetown alumnus.  GSEI Executive Director, Leslie Crutchfield, facilitated a discussion with Mr. Helfrich about Deloitte’s role in social innovation.

During the early 2000s, Mr. Helfrich and some of his colleagues identified a need for the firm to conduct more business in the Washington D.C. area.  “We say we want to solve society’s biggest and most important challenges but we’re not because we’re not engaging with the government” Mr. Helfrich said.  Presently, the firm’s federal practice has grown to include over 9,000 Deloitte professionals.  

According to Mr. Helfrich, Deloitte’s Federal Government Practice was founded on the idea that there is an ecosystem of actors, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies that must come together to make important societal changes happen.  Government agencies and non-profit organizations often cannot achieve their goals from within their organization, and they need the expertise of consulting firms such as Deloitte to find solutions and catalyze change.

As the audience included a number of hopeful Georgetown students looking to one day land a job at Deloitte, Mr. Helfrich provided some advice to prospective applicants.  In particular, he emphasized that consultants must be able to leverage technology and data in today’s world to unlock insights on both societal and business issues. 

When asked what classes students should take to improve their chances of getting hired, Mr. Helfrich emphasized the importance of taking a multi-disciplinary approach to their coursework.  He also responded with a unique piece of advice, “to be a great consultant, I would take an improv class.  Dead seriously… the best consultants are active listeners who adapt in the moment.”

The event concluded with questions from the audience, one of which came from a Georgetown student asking about the future challenges facing the public sector.  Mr. Helfrich pointed to the need to innovate the citizen experience:  “All the ways in which the citizen interacts with the government, whether its passports or taxes or booking a train on Amtrak or enlisting in the military, are all ripe for fundamental transformation and I think Deloitte should be at the heart of it.”