Saverio Fato: Redefining the conventional businessman

Justin Runquist

Saverio Fato doesn’t mind hard work.

Then again, when you’re a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, a “Big Four” public accounting firm, you don’t have much choice sometimes. As a partner, his responsibilities just don’t end at 5 p.m. But he loves his job so much that he doesn’t mind.

His passion for the accounting profession rivals his passion for Villanova. As the firm’s relationship partner for Villanova recruiting, every so often, work means suiting up for a Wildcat Village tailgating event before his alma mater’s football game. In addition, Fato can be seen frequently on campus actively recruiting future PwC professionals.

It’s tough saying no to opportunities even after he’s made partner – a pinnacle position in the accounting profession.

Fato continues saying yes because he never forgets how small opportunities have ultimately launched him in his career. He especially never forgets a random call he received during his third year with the firm. A human resources partner called him, wondering if he was interested in working overtime one weekend.

Fato agreed to help out, and he’s forever glad he did. He instantly bonded with a new manager that day. He built a rapport that opened up doors of opportunity like he never expected. She would soon introduce Fato to partners and other managers that would eventually help him obtain a senior accountant role on a new client of the firm. Three years later, the same manager and a partner to whom he was introduced helped him land a two-year assignment in London serving a major pharmaceutical client. That positioned him well for moving up the ranks at PwC.

“Be careful who you say no to,” Fato advises today. “The relationship I built [with her] taught me that. If I had not gone in to help her, I don’t know where I’d be right now. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made … That decision made a difference in my career.”

Nowadays, Fato does relax more after hours and on weekends. But his messages are still the same. Work hard. Work as hard as you can: right now, where you are today. View challenges as opportunities. And don’t necessarily be too selective about opportunities.

He added, “Coming in on a weekend may mean an opportunity to excel, an opportunity to learn and to get to work with someone you may not have known before.”

While numbers may be the foundation of an accountant’s job, Fato believes the overriding priority of his job is helping people – his clients, PwC professionals and recruits.

As a firm, PwC adds value to companies by providing independent opinions and counsel. This includes understanding their risks, their issues, their concerns and marrying the issues with the accounting.

In addition to its focus on clients, PwC works hard on recruiting. “I enjoy working with students excited about the profession,” Fato said. “I love going out and telling people what I do.”

As part of his recruiting efforts, Fato is focused on diversity initiatives within the Philadelphia office. “We need to continue to attract, retain and promote the advancement of minorities within our firm,” he said. “If you don’t focus on diversity, we’ll all look the same when we go into our clients. Without diversity, we’d all eventually think and act the same too.”

Healthy debates on global issues are common chatter around PwC’s office. “Everyone here brings a different point of view to the table,” Fato said. “And you extend that to diversity of people, of thought, of ethnic background and geography. Our clients expect a global workforce and global perspective on business.”

In many ways, Fato resembles more of a world economist than a conventional accountant. His background in accounting wouldn’t matter much if he didn’t consider micro- and macroeconomics. “Take the devaluation of currency in Argentina, for example,” he said. “If I didn’t understand that economic risk, how could I begin to understand the accounting ramifications.”

It’s no wonder why PwC employees are assigned to a wide range of opportunities. Along with his London assignment, Fato has worked extensive periods in over 22 states, in China, in Brazil and throughout Europe. Throughout his career, Fato’s client exposure has ranged from pharmaceuticals to chemicals to paper producers.

Fato said, “I reflect on the journey of becoming partner, and I think of the places I’ve seen. I’ve seen a lot of the world – more at an early stage in my career than most might see in a lifetime. I also think of the range of experiences I’ve had … I just love what I do for a living.”

When the calendar flips to Monday morning each week, couldn’t we all be so lucky?