Lisa M. Ong, MS 2014, describes herself as a “talent gardener” who enjoys helping the PricewaterhouseCoopers employees she coaches and mentors discover their strengths, “wish out loud” and unlock their potential. Her efforts harvested special results recently when the Dallas Business Journal named her one of its 2017 Minority Business Leader Award winners.
“I was thrilled, then humbled and honored…to be associated with such other wonderful honorees,” says Ong, whose fellow award winners include JSOM alumni Kuntesh Chokshi, MS 2001 and EMBA 2004, and Chris Bhatti, an MAT 2006 graduate who is now assistant dean of development and alumni relations in the UT Dallas Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
The awards, given annually, shine a spotlight on exemplary minority business owners, corporate executives from all industries and corporate advocates who are making a difference in their Dallas-Fort Worth communities.
A certified public accountant and associate certified coach, Ong serves as national talent management director and internal executive coach in PwC’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “Most firms have recruiters who bring talent to the firm,” she says. “My job is more about letting them grow and succeed once they get here.”
At PwC for 27 years, Ong started as a financial statement auditor. “As I progressed in the firm, I always volunteered as a participant in their diversity and human resource initiatives.” When the company posted an opening for a full-time diversity director in Dallas, she applied for and got the job.
Professional accomplishments she is proud of include designing and teaching key PwC leadership development programs, expanding PwC minority and women’s networking circles, launching a working parents’ network and opening avenues to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.
Now, she says, she gets to “focus on our national minority leadership program.” As a result of that, she frequently speaks to diverse audiences around the country about authentic leadership, inclusive leadership, bridging cultural differences and more.
Ong now has a dozen years’ on-the-job experience at local and national levels, but, she notes, she has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion “my whole life.” With grandparents who immigrated to the United States from China, she was “trained to be grateful and pay it forward.”
Her father was an accountant, she says, and he told her that as the oldest of three daughters, “You should follow in my footsteps. Accountants make a lot of money, and you have to take care of me in my old age.”
“I have to thank my father,” Ong says. “I originally wanted to be a teacher, but my father was in accounting and suggested that was a good career. I thank him for telling me to pick PwC. …PwC has an excellent reputation, and he told me to pick a company where I would have a career, not just a job.
“The ironic thing is I actually teach now too. I’m often invited as a guest speaker for the Ascend student chapter and the Accounting Leadership Association at UTD. So I have the best of both worlds.”
A UT Austin undergraduate, Ong says when the time was right for getting her master’s degree, “I wanted to do coaching. When I started researching, I was looking for a professional coaching program that was part of a business school.” The Jindal School’s MS in Management and Administrative Sciences — which has since become the MS in Management Science — program “was perfect for me as a full-time working professional.”
Through it, she earned her coaching certificate and became a member of the International Coach Federation – North Texas Chapter.
Ong gets back to campus about every other month — to network with other coaches at forums, get continuing education coaching credits or to serve as a guest speaker.
“Lisa goes above and beyond to assist students and is always willing to provide honest and valuable advice to help students grow and learn to be better employees, CPAs and citizens, “ says Jennifer Johnson, a JSOM senior lecturer in accounting. “Her dedication and passion are remarkable.”
“Lisa is dedicated to the success of the profession through getting people involved,” current chairman Bill Schneider, AT&T’s director of accounting, says. “Her focus on coaching and diversity are a perfect match for the DCPAS with a vibrant a growing group of young, diverse CPAs.”
Ong also serves as a director-at-large for the Texas Society of CPAs and was recently appointed to a three-year term on the American Institute of CPAs Governing Council.
She also maintains ties to many students through her lifetime membership in Ascend, where she serves as an executive advisor to the Ascend North Texas Chapter.