Michelle Vopni is Dallas Office Managing Partner at Ernst & Young LLP, a global provider of assurance, audit, tax, financial, and business advisory services to automotive, financial, government, entertainment, mining, real estate, technology, and telecommunication industries.
Vopni oversees one of the firm’s largest markets, leading the office’s more than 2,800 employees.
Vopni, who also serves on the DRC Board of Directors and was the 2021 Board Chair, talks career and the biggest challenges facing women in the DRC’s on-going Q&A series for Women’s History Month.
What female figures have had the biggest influence on your life?
Trailblazing EY Dallas partner Billie Williamson served as the firm’s first Americas Inclusiveness Officer, launching critical and meaningful diversity efforts more than a decade ago. Billie served as a mentor and role model for many EY women throughout her career and civic involvement. She took an interest in my career and inspired me to be bold in seeking and embracing leadership roles at EY and in the community.
What are the biggest challenges facing women today, and what can employers do to help their female leaders excel professionally?
Women continue to be challenged with the perception that they are primary caregivers for their families, which can cause others to underestimate their commitment to their careers and full potential. Employers need to provide policies and flexibility to allow all employees to balance their career and family responsibilities, rather than making assumptions based on gender biases.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the gender gap, with women often disproportionally affected. Employers have an important opportunity to help employees, especially women, transition back onto the path to leadership post-pandemic, creating equitable policies, providing flexibility and opportunities, and making success possible for all. I am proud that at EY, we continue to advance an inclusive culture to enable women’s potential to truly transform society and build a better working world.
EY’s commitment to gender equality is firm-wide, with internal and external commitments and initiatives across service lines, practices, and locations. Our global platform, “Women. Fast Forward,” seeks to empower a diverse workforce by enabling women and girls to reach their potential through education, mentorship, innovation, and entrepreneurial opportunities.
What is the one piece of advice you wish you received before you started your career?
I frequently remind myself and others that our careers are a marathon, not a sprint. We need to work hard but be balanced, patient, and steadfast to succeed.
If you could write your autobiography, what would its title be, and why?
I would call my autobiography “Believe,” as my own life journey has been centered around holding fast to my core values and beliefs while pursuing a career and raising a family.