Earlier this year Cindy Hook made Australian history by becoming the first woman to lead a big four accounting firm.
But before she was appointed CEO of Deloitte Australia, she spent a considerable amount of time preparing her pitch — in fact, she prepared for an entire year.
After hearing that the former CEO would be resigning, Hook decided that she wanted a shot at the top job and was going to do everything in her power to make sure she got it.
“I worked at my value proposition, I looked carefully at my core values,” Hook said at the Layne Beach Foundation leadership forum last week. “I needed to understand my own values to know what type of leader I wanted to be.”
She approached her year-long prep like she did her marathon training.
“I was intense, I was focused and I was consistent. I created a program, I hired a profession coach, I had help from my colleagues, and I even prepared a plan for what I would do if I lost,” she said.
“I prepared mentally and emotionally, and very importantly I maintained a balance throughout the entire process. Not just balance in the boardroom but balance with my family and home, and balance so I stayed physically strong.”
She knew that when the time came, if she hadn’t given it her all, it would not be good enough.
“I didn’t take anything for granted because I knew I was going to have to be at my very best, and not just because the competition was so strong, but because I didn’t want to have any regrets.”
Then when she was offered the job, despite her intensive preparation, she surprised herself.
“When I was first told by the chairman that I had got the role, I was pretty much in a state of disbelief,” she said.
“It probably took a couple of weeks to set in, that I’d actually achieved this goal of becoming CEO, and then it hit me: ‘Oh my gosh, what have you done Cindy. Can you actually do this job?'”
Despite the initial self-doubt, Hook said she took a deep breath and reflected on the journey she had taken. She said by remembering why she started and what she had learned about herself, she found the resolve and courage to lead.