Greg Arend is no stranger to crisis.
A 1982 Missouri Southern graduate who now lives in Tulsa, Okla., Arend works for Deloitte, a global network of business consulting firms that provide audit, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to clients.
He was Deloitte’s lead client service partner during the housing and mortgage crisis that began in 2008-09. He worked with client executives and members of the legislative and executive branches to address complex issues facing the banking and housing industries.
“The banking crisis was very chaotic,” Arend says. “The government was out of money. Had Uncle Sam not stepped in and raised ceilings and taken actions to provide liquidity to the marketplace, it could have been far worse.”
Other catastrophes addressed by Arend, on behalf of Deloitte clients, were California’s Northridge earthquake, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and Joplin’s 2011 tornado. All of those disasters, he says, possessed one major commonality.
“Whenever there is significant financial loss, there will be lots of money coming in at incredible speed in incredible amounts,” he says. “Visualize it like a rainstorm. The money is raining down. The chance for waste, fraud and abuse skyrockets. Our job is to get the money out the door in a controlled atmosphere and make sure it gets to the people who need it.”
Arend, who graduated from Missouri Southern magna cum laude with an accounting degree, returned to campus to deliver the keynote address during Spring 2017 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 13. Over the last decade, Arend has also become a recognized leader and advocate on the importance of diversity and inclusion in creating high-performance teams.
“It’s become a big part of who I am personally,” he says. “For the first couple of decades, I was fairly oblivious to the whole topic of diversity. Then I moved from Tulsa, one of the least diverse areas of the nation, to Washington, D.C., arguably one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., if not the world.”
He says a move across the country expanded his perspective.
“When I got there, I saw that my teams consisted of all different types of people, just a melting pot of folks. I absolutely personally grew. It helped me to understand their perspectives, their journeys … It evolved me as a person, as well as a professional.”
Having since returned to Tulsa, Arend was recognized in 2015 as a Man of Distinction by Tulsa Business and Legal News. He was also given special recognition by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao for the Labor Department’s American Heroes at Work Initiative, and received a 2012 Outstanding Leaders Award from the federal Audit and Enterprise Risk Services organization.
Arend, who grew up in the Southwest Missouri community of Monett, married his wife, Linda, during his senior year of college at Missouri Southern. The two are parents of a grown daughter, Lacey.
“My world pretty much revolves around Linda and Lacey,” he says.
If a young person came to Arend and said he or she wanted to be a leader, what would his advice be?
“No. 1, be true to yourself,” he says. “No. 2, follow your passions. Decide what you want to lead and how you want to lead it, and remember to set the mark high. Some people are great managers but not great leaders. You need to make people want to follow you. That’s what it takes to be a leader.”