In about seven months, Mike McGuire will be heading up one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S., Chicago-based Grant Thornton.
Last week, the privately held firm announced the promotion of McGuire, its Charlotte-based chief operating officer, to CEO. He replaces outgoing CEO Stephen Chipman.
Starting in January, the Charlotte resident of nearly 30 years will be tasked with running a company that reports annual revenues of about $1.3 billion and has 56 offices in 29 states and 6,438 employees.
Twelve years ago, McGuire’s employment future was up in the air.
McGuire was working in Charlotte, as Carolinas audit division head for Arthur Andersen while that accounting firm was collapsing in 2002. That year, the firm was convicted for obstruction of justice over destroying documents related to its work for energy company Enron Corp.
In 2005, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction. But by then, McGuire, who had worked for the company for 20 years, and thousands of other Arthur Andersen employees had already lost their jobs as it went under in 2002.
That same year, McGuire took a job with Grant Thornton and has risen through its ranks.
Holding key senior leadership roles at Grant Thornton has helped prepare him to become CEO, he said. He served as head of human resources and sales and marketing for the company before becoming chief operating officer.
“I think the way our firm operates and the way we do transition planning … it’s not like being thrown in the deep end,” the 55-year-old said. “I think it’s really about planning and really building my skills along the way.”
Grant Thornton counts some Fortune 500 companies, as well as others, among its clients. In the Charlotte area, it employs roughly 288 people.
McGuire’s comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.
I’ve also … developed a plan for my first 90 days, my first six months and my first year. I’ve developed that in close collaboration with people inside the firm and some folks that I have as mentors outside the firm.
The other area is tax – in particular, our tax-consulting areas such as international tax. With companies going international ... they really need our help from a tax standpoint.
Because of the diversity, Charlotte is just a lot more complex, in a good way. Back when I first started (working in Charlotte) you could almost get five to 10 people in a room and make a decision, like we’re going to get pro basketball or pro football. Now … you have to involve a lot of other constituents, which is the right thing to do. But it does slow the process down.
I think it’s time for us to wrap this chapter up, move on to the next chapter and start moving forward. And I think we will do that.