Joe Forehand, former CEO of Accenture

Joe Forehand


After a 34 year career with Accenture, Joe retired as CEO in 2006. Upon retiring, Joe said he was delighted to have led Accenture through a period of enormous change. He said they excelled at delivering client value and strengthening their leadership position in some of the most difficult economic conditions their industry had seen. Joe credited their success during his years as CEO to the talent and commitment of their 90,000 professionals around the world.

Joe credits Pi Kappa Phi for doing a lot for him personally. Through his experiences in the chapter at Auburn, he shaped the leadership skills that later helped him lead a global organization.

In high school, Joe was voted “smartest male” in superlatives and it hit him that he wanted to be more.

“I don’t think that is who I want to be,” Joe recalls.

In college, Joe joined Pi Kappa Phi because of the bonds of brotherhood he felt during recruitment. He looked at joining a fraternity as an opportunity to develop social skills.

“In the early days, a lot of what I learned was how to work as part of a team Ð to give and take- in an organization for common goals,” Joe said. “I learned to juggle a lot at once with my studies in the school of engineering, serving as Archon, activities in other organizations, Army ROTC and dating a special Pi Beta Phi.” (45 years later, he is still married to his Pi Beta Phi.)

If you could start college again tomorrow, what would you do differently? Why?

Not a lot. The biggest thing I learned in college is when you are juggling everything you are making commitments to be the best you can be. Maybe I didn’t always do my absolute best. You have to have accountability to yourself. If I could start again, I would work harder.

Aside from meeting your wife, what were your one or two most important/meaningful Pi Kappa Phi experiences?

Serving as Archon was my first time in a significant leadership role. I had more responsibility and I learned a lot. Also, you may laugh, but during my freshman year I learned more about social graces than ever before. I grew up in a very small town near Auburn and on a farm. I was not exposed to the social graces that would help me all throughout life. Our house mother made sure we did the right thing and had good table manners. It helped me be a more effective leader.

What qualities do you look for in the people with whom you surround yourself, personally or professionally?

I look for diversity Ð diversity of background and thought. Having different people with different thoughts is better for coming to solutions. People of all types are part of a team first in accomplishing goals in large organizations. I also look for people who enjoy life, take risks and are adaptable.

Your aha moment?

In my forties, I had a boss who asked “when are you going to spend as much time on opportunities as you do problems?” That was really a turning point in my career.

One last thing you can share?

Be bold. Take chances. Seize opportunities.