Sharon L. Allen
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Courtesy Deloitte & Touche LLP
Sharon L. Allen is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP (D&T USA). In this capacity, she oversees the governance of an organization with more than $8 billion in annual revenues. She is the highest ranking woman in the organization and first women to become Chairman of a leading professional services firm.

Sharon was born in the small town of Kimberly, Idaho on October 7, 1951. She was the youngest of four girls. Growing up on a farm she was an active member of 4-H. She did not play sports but did just about every other activity, including the debate club and drill team. While growing up Sharon thought about being a nurse or a teacher.

Following high school graduation Sharon enrolled at the University of Idaho. She planned on majoring in education. Her roommate was majoring in accounting. She convinced Sharon to take an accounting course. Sharon changed her major to accounting. As Sharon says "I think it is fair to say I always was good with numbers. I'm not a mathematician, but I did enjoy what I called the logic of math."1 "When I discovered that public accounting profession was where I could combine my affinity (like) for accounting in an environment that required people and communication skills, I knew I had found a match."2

Sharon joined Deloitte & Touche in Boise, Idaho when she graduated from college. She has been there over 30 years. During that time her career advanced and she held many different positions. As she advanced in her career she rose to higher levels of leadership, until she was elected Chairman of the Board in 2003.

She attributes her success to several things including being strong willed and grounded in her family and friends. She also realized she needed to step outside of her comfort zone and take risks to be successful. She also said mentors were critical to her success. Her role model(s) were composites of her great-grandmother who was one of the first female legislators in the State of Idaho, Bertha Irwin; Alice Hennessey at Boise Cascade, one of her early clients; and the Partners in the firm. As Sharon benefited from her mentors she has given back by mentoring others to help them with their careers.

Sharon has been married for 34 years. She and her husband have two dogs. They reside in Los Angeles. They also have a Lake House in Idaho where they enjoy relaxing with their dogs. In her spare time she likes to visit Napa Valley in California, along with gardening and playing golf.

Her life remains balanced by her community involvement. She is active on several levels with the United Way of Los Angeles, the YMCA of Greater Los Angeles, the Autry Center for the West and the Independent Colleges of Southern California and others. They let her combine her interests in higher education and community service. Sharon believes it is important to give back to the community.

Sharon had the following advice for young girls:

  • Be true to yourself
  • Find what you love to do and follow your passion
  • Don't assume that someone else will be watching out for you, be self sufficient and communicate your successes

1 "Paving the Way". California CPA. October 2005 p: 14
2 ibid. pp: 14-15

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