Leonard Leadership Scholar Class of 2003
- Forensic Accountant, FTI Consulting
- BBA, Finance, University of Georgia (2003)
Heather DiFiore is one of the 995 values-based, impact-driven leaders ILA has been developing over the past decade. Heather balances being a wife, a mother, an ambitious businesswoman, and an involved community member by constantly living out the values of a servant leader and pursuing what she is passionate about.
As a freshman in college, introverted Heather was made a coxswain on the UGA club rowing team – an experience that helped her realize that she has a passion for leading and motivating others to become their best.
Heather pushed passed her comfort zone when she applied for and became a Leonard Leadership Scholar. During her first semester, she learned the importance of asking for responsibility as well as the excitement that comes with creating something new when she and some of her classmates began the Terry Dean’s Counsel.
“Now, I look for opportunities to get more involved,” Heather said. “Whether it’s with FTI’s Women’s Initiative or the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, I am always looking for additional responsibilities.”
Heather’s ambition propelled her to success after she graduated from the University of Georgia with a BBA in Finance. Early in her career while working at KPMG, she was “pushed into the unknown” when she was tasked with managing a team with major HR issues. Heather said that being put in this role gave her “a confidence that comes with doing something new and realizing that it all works out.”
A few months into her job at KPMG, she stepped out of her comfort zone once again, and joined a group of KPMG professionals that were acquired by FTI Consulting. Although the youngest of the 12 new FTI employees in Atlanta, Heather did not let her youth stop her from accomplishing great things. She seized the moment and took the opportunity to stand out and take initiative within the firm.
Heather’s passion for her work radiates as she speaks of her work engagements. “They are all exciting in their own way,” Heather said. “I’m currently tracking and creating the accounting records of an alleged Ponzi scheme that collected over $800 million in less than two years. Tracing the flow of funds all over the world and working with the government to help them investigate the scheme is fun.”
In 2011, Heather discovered that FTI’s maternity leave policies needed to be adjusted, so she worked to raise awareness of the deficient policies among the members of the newly created FTI Women’s Initiative – a committee that is dedicated to helping female professionals grow with each other alongside the firm. Much of her passion for the FTI Women’s Initiative comes from Heather’s dedication and love for her family. Her two young boys are the center of her life.
“Witnessing them exhibit compassion, ambition and enjoyment reminds me how my everyday actions are shaping who they will become,” which places motherhood at the top of the list of important leadership roles she holds in her life. When she is with her family, Heather “sees failures and successes on a daily basis” which makes her home life a haven for constant growth.
While Heather has always put her family first, doing so hasn’t always been easy as she has juggled being a mom with earning a Masters in Professional Accounting as well as becoming a CPA and a CFA. Pursuing these credentials while growing her family taught her the values of presence, tenacity and quality.
To Heather, the value of presence means to be fully invested and focused on the moment. She does her best to be present every day by meeting every request she receives with her complete attention.
During a hectic time in her life, Heather’s youngest son, who was just 8 months old at the time, became very ill. She had to set her priorities straight, delegate where she could, and continuously ask herself, “how can I do better at each thing?” Heather realized how incredibly important the value of presence is and began applying it each and every day.
This “brick wall” also taught her the value of tenacity. She recognized that hard work and endurance is needed for success. “When I hit those walls, I now know that I just need to step back and remind myself why I am doing what I am doing.”
Throughout all of these challenges, Heather maintained the quality of her work and home life because she knew that this value is “what really separates the good and the great.” Keeping a high standard for “quality work” has meant constant communication and open relationships with her coworkers.
By fostering each relationship with care, maintaining open communication, and passing the credit when the credit is due, Heather makes her staff feel appreciated and motivated at all times. “I want them to know what I’m doing and how I do it, because I succeed when they do.”
After 11 years of success, Heather is beginning to testify as an expert witness in business litigation disputes. She is entering a stage in her career and family life to become more involved in the community which excites her. Recently, she was asked to be the treasurer of the Board of the Georgia Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association. “Sharing my technical skills and experience to help a cause I feel deeply about is very rewarding.”
Heather shares that she will “treat each role the same by learning from everyone around me, taking initiative and doing all work to the best of my ability.”
Heather is a loving mom, an active member of her community, and an incredibly impressive business-woman and is just one of the 995.