Meet the CEO: Baker Tilly names first female global CEO

Francesca Lagerberg joins Baker Tilly International as global CEO, becoming the first woman to lead the professional services firm

For the first time in its 34-year history, top 10 global accountancy firm Baker Tilly International has a female lead, recently appointing Francesca Lagerberg as chief executive of the global network.

Francesca becomes only the second woman to lead a top 10 global accountancy and consulting firm following in the footsteps of Jean Stephens, who has led RSM since 2006.

The appointment of a woman to the helm of a top 10 accountancy and consulting firm remains a rare occurrence, with none of the Big Four firms yet appointing female global leads.

This appointment of Francesca to the helm follows a long search by the professional services firm for a new CEO following the stepdown of Ted Verkade in January 2021.

Ted led the firm for more than five years, successfully leading it through a substantial period of growth and overseeing a global rebrand, with Baker Tilly now spanning 148 territories, with more than 39,000 people and revenue exceeding US$4bn, making it the 10th biggest accounting firm globally, according to the IAB World Survey.

After an 18-month search, Baker Tilly International’s chairman and US CEO, Alan Whitman, described the appointment of Francesca as “the right leader at the right time”.

He adds: “She is a progressive leader who brings a wealth of experience and has the unique perspective of leading at both an enterprise and global network level.”

Francesca brings 25 years of professional services consulting

Francesca brings to the Baker Tilly table more than 25 years of experience in professional services, including two decades working in tax.

Francesca joins from Grant Thornton where she spent the last 15 years in various global leadership roles, including as global leader in tax services, as head of people and culture, and most recently as network capability and international business lead.

In this most recent role, which she held for eight years, Francesca led on helping develop network capabilities globally, working with around 13 member firms to help drive growth, and set up Grant Thornton’s International Business Support function.

A law graduate from the University of Birmingham, Francesca worked for four years at UK advisory Smith & Williamson prior to joining Grant Thornton.

Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Francesca frequently talks publicly about the need for diversity of thought, and especially in encouraging a broader range of people to take on senior roles.

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