An Upward Trajectory

Kim Zeoli ’89 still isn’t accustomed to the shock she feels when she realizes she is working on issues that are worthy of front-page headlines. As an advisory partner in the Big Four Accounting firm Deloitte & Touche specializing in the health sciences industry, Zeoli does a lot of consulting for businesses that are at the forefront of the industry’s evolution.

“It’s one of those industries we all experience in some way or another in our everyday life. Dealing with it the way do is often surreal,” Zeoli said. “It’s hard to believe that I’m often working on something that’s so relevant and newsworthy on a regular basis.”

A few such events occurred in 2013 when Zeoli and her team worked on a few high-profile projects.

In one case, her team helped hospital clients comply with privacy regulations when the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded. Due to the intense curiosity of the media and insiders, the hospitals had to take immediate actions to protect and secure the medical records of the suspect and victims who were being treated there.

In another case, Zeoli helped uncover an ongoing financial fraud scheme at a national health care company. The new controller and CFO had asked Zeoli to look into some potential financial reporting discrepancies.

“As my team was reconstructing the books for the prior two years, we discovered what appeared to be misconduct and collusion of certain individuals at the company,” Zeoli said. “Our discovery set off a chain reaction of events that made the newspapers.”

The company reissued its financial statements, implemented new internal controls, and launched an internal investigation and took legal action. And though the company ultimately declared bankruptcy, it successfully restructured and became profitable again.

“These are some of the most dramatic and rewarding experiences I will never forget,” Zeoli said.

This past spring, Zeoli returned to the Ithaca College School of Business to speak with students about lessons she has learned during her career. One of the biggest pieces of advice she gave to students was to be fearless. “Seek opportunities and assignments that really stretch your capabilities,” she told them. “Playing it safe in today’s work world will only get you so far.”

She learned that lesson early in her career in the mid-1990s, when she was asked to take on a lead role in the health care regulatory practice at her firm: “One side of my brain said, ‘Wow, that’s kind of scary.’ The other side just said, ‘Go for it!’” Zeoli said. “As it turned out, that really was a pivotal point in my career.” That turning point in Zeoli’s career shifted her away from working primarily on financial audits and took her into the world of consulting.

Last summer, Zeoli hosted a small group of students from the School of Business at Deloitte’s Boston office, where she’s based. She spoke to them about the public accounting and professional services industry and shared more career advice and job-search tips. Zeoli also recently became a member of the Business Advisory Council for the School of Business that works closely with Dean Sean Reid’s office.

“I love talking with students and folks who are beginning their careers, and sharing with them what I’ve been able to learn. If I can be of help to them, it’s certainly rewarding,” she said.

Zeoli also cohosted the first IC Women’s Network event in the Boston area this past summer with her friend and neighbor Reed Scranton ’79. Alumnae and current students came together for an evening at Scranton’s home to socialize and share experiences and advice in small group discussions over dinner. While she acknowledges that students have myriad ways of networking and making professional connections these days, she’s a firm believer in encouraging them to tap into IC’s alumni network, whether they’re entering the workforce or navigating the early stages of their careers.

“I think alumni are always able and willing to share valuable insights that students aren’t able to get elsewhere,” Zeoli said.