What Resilience Means to KPMG’s Maureen Evers-Willox

By Sarah Stoss, Development and Communications Associate

Our 2021 Annual Breakfast: The Resilience of the Girl is on March 25th, 2021 and KPMG is our Presenting sponsor. We wanted to find out what resilience means to KPMG, and Managing Partner Maureen Evers-Willox was kind enough to respond to our questions in an interview.

Question: Describe what resilience means to you.
Maureen: If I had to choose one word, I would say resilience means grit. It’s adaptability, flexibility, courage and the overall ability to cope in the face of adversity. Resilience helps us bounce back from challenges and provides us with the ability to grow. How we respond to challenges defines us. Resilience is being vulnerable to the reality of our experience and courageous enough to honestly face our truths and move toward our goals.

This past year, we experienced a world we have never known before. We had to dig deep inside ourselves for the strength to navigate our new reality. We had to learn new ways of working, learning and communicating… this took resilience. We have seen countless examples of how so many have demonstrated grit. I think of how our healthcare providers had to handle the many surges, how our teachers had to find innovative solutions to educate our children and how businesses needed to pivot to deliver services in a new way. All of these examples show how strong people are and how we don’t let adversity stop us in our tracks! We will draw on these tangible examples of perseverance for generations to come!

Question: How has resilience helped you respond to the challenges of 2020 in your professional life?
Maureen: 2020 certainly tested my resiliency and 2021 continues to test me! I’m fortunate to work for a company that has put our people first and encouraged us to prioritize our mental and physical health. I am in a business that depends on strong relationships, usually built with face-to-face interactions. Pivoting to a virtual environment challenged me to think carefully about how best to nurture and build these relationships. I had to determine the most important elements for me, my family, our work teams and our clients and change my way of thinking about how to manage in this environment. Like so many, I know that elements of this change are part of who we are now and how we will manage in the future.

Question: When you look back on 2020 in 20 years, what do you think you will remember? What have you learned?
Maureen: Without a doubt, the time I’ve spent with my family will always stand out. In its own way, it has been a gift. This period made me truly realize the importance of the basics – good health, food to eat, my faith and a roof over my head – and value them even more.

I will remember the creativity used by people to host life events in a new way. There were countless events that needed to be reimagined. Birthdays, weddings, graduations and retirements were all commemorated with such imagination.

I will also remember the goodness in mankind. There have been so many examples of people reaching out to help their friends, neighbors and communities. It is such a source of hope and encouragement to see the goodness in our brothers and sisters demonstrated during a crisis.

I have learned that while people are very resilient, we need to support each other during these extraordinary times. Support and leadership come in many forms – from government, schools, businesses, parents, teachers, friends etc. I will remember the many examples of leadership demonstrated during this pandemic and how it helped provide a sense of safety and security that was so desperately needed.

Girls Inc. of Long Island: What do you hope the girls we serve on Long Island will remember or learn from this experience?
Maureen: I hope we all look back and see the magnitude of the challenges we faced and how we used our personal and collective grit, determination and resilience to push ourselves to adapt, persevere, grow and gain confidence. It is particularly important for young girls to recognize their strength and potential.

I hope the girls appreciate how unexpected life can be and how resilience helps us navigate the various life challenges we encounter. We did not expect a pandemic, but we figured out how to move forward with new ways of doing things.
I also hope that they learn that it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. This past year has been challenging for so many reasons and everyone handles experiences in different ways. Leaning into my support network is one of the ways I have been able to navigate the emotional impact of the past year. People want to be there for you, give them the chance to lift you up when you need it!

I also hope the girls we serve on Long Island learn to appreciate things we took for granted –going to the grocery store, visiting a friend, hugging a friend or grandparent – and even the things we didn’t care for, like getting on the bus and going to school every day. These are gifts. Cherish them.

Thank you to KPMG and Maureen Evers-Willox for taking the time to answer these questions and for their support of our 2021 Annual Breakfast: The Resilience of the Girl on March 25th, 2021.

Register for the event here.