Find the Value in Yourself and Others

Catherine Lewis receives Bloch School Alumni Award

As an expert in the tax and accounting industries, Catherine Lewis was the global head of KPMG’s Energy and Natural Resources tax practice for more than 20 years. The seemingly simple lesson she wants to share from her experiences: believe in yourself, be genuine and respect others.

During her nearly 30 years at KPMG, Lewis served in numerous positions, including tax planning of initial public offerings, assisting with regulatory issues and serving on practically every committee on the KPMG Board of Directors, including its KPMG Americas Board of Directors. She retired in 2012.

In recognition of her career achievements, Lewis has been named the 2014 Alumni Award recipient for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Henry W. Bloch School of Management. As a nontraditional student, Lewis graduated from the school in 1985 and worked during most of her time as a student.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association presents alumni awards to one honoree from each school and five campus-wide awards at its annual awards luncheon. This year’s event, which will include the presentation of the 2014 Chancellor’s Medal, will be held on Thursday, April 24, on the UMKC campus. For information, go to the 2014 Alumni Awards luncheon website.

“UMKC had a great accounting/business program, and it allowed me to work while achieving my college education. It was my dream out of school to become employed by one of the Big 8 accounting firms” said Lewis. “I worked hard to not only make the best grades, but also become involved in as many ways in the university and the business world to provide myself the best opportunity to attain the goal of working with one of the Big 8.

“I received offers from six of the eight firms.”

Her most important responsibilities were as a member of the KPMG boards because members are elected by the partners and provide the oversight for management. Lewis recalled opportunities and challenges during her time on the board at KPMG, and she says it provided an opportunity for her to “give back to our firm and our partners, our clients, and the capital markets that we serve.”

Lewis was able to travel around the world while she was involved in the recruitment, training and development of firm personnel.

“I have always found experiencing differing cultures and countries fascinating and exhilarating,” said Lewis. “To be able to expand my own skills with a global footprint, and to learn and share that experience has been the rewarding part of my career.”

According to Lewis, UMKC provided her every opportunity to learn, develop, expand her horizons and opportunities and to have a successful career.

Lewis says she believes that giving back to the university was essential for future generations. She has served as president and is a current member of the UMKC Bloch Advisory Council and a past board member of the Bloch Accounting Advisory Council.

She said she also feels that serving in the community is beneficial, like currently serving as treasurer for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri.

“As a former girl scout, I wanted to encourage young women to believe that they could be successful in all career fields including business, science and mathematics,” Lewis said.

When asked about her biggest personal or professional goal, Lewis again focused on helping others.

“My biggest professional accomplishment was the development of the next generation to realize their dreams through inspiration, hard work and believing in themselves,” said Lewis.

She shared her personal mantra as encouragement: “Believe in yourself. Be genuine. Respect the individual. Always think about the positive. Always view a difficult situation as an opportunity.”

Lewis also provided words of wisdom for students following in her footsteps.

“Set goals but keep the door wide open because sometimes the greatest opportunities are the unexpected.”


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