San Diego Business Journal

Professional Profile: David W. Down

Monday, September 10, 2012

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David W. Down

RESUME

Name: David W. Down.

Company: KPMG LLP.

Title: Managing Partner.

No. of employees: 210.

Year founded: San Diego office founded in 1961.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in accounting, from San Diego State University, 1976.

Birthplace: Deoles, France.

Current residence: Escondido.

Family: Married to Patti for 36 years; children: Patrick, William, Mary and Megan.

David (Dave) W. Down has been a managing partner since 1994 at the San Diego office of KPMG LLP, a Big 4 accounting firm. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the office, which was launched with the acquisition of local firm Everts and Esenoff. Down joined the San Diego office in 1976 after graduating from San Diego State University. In his 35-plus years, Down has served on many community boards, including the Greater San Diego Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, SDSU, Connect and the Junior Seau Foundation.

BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY

Essential business philosophy: Treat clients and colleagues with the courtesy, respect and integrity you would appreciate, and always exceed their expectations.

Best way to keep a competitive edge: Keep your technical edge, know your industry, draw on your experience and apply a little common sense.

Guiding principles: Be positive and honest. Sometimes answers are tough to face, but that is what builds character.

Yardsticks of success: How often clients tell us selecting KPMG was the right choice, and individuals I have mentored who now hold leadership positions in other KPMG offices.

Goals yet to be achieved: At my eventual retirement, to ensure I have left KPMG a little better for the next generation than when I arrived.

JUDGMENT CALLS

Best business decision: To join Peat, Marwick Mitchell & Co. in 1976 and marry Patti Graybill that same year.

Worst business decision: Not taking advantage of the opportunity to travel abroad enough and gain more global experience.

Toughest business decision: Having to lay off people.

Biggest missed opportunity: Not moving to Rancho Santa Fe when my children were younger.

Mentors: My father, Ray Down, taught me integrity, honesty and how to treat people (customers) with respect. KPMG partner Eric Bjoin guided my career, and through his mentorship, I developed a great respect and admiration for mentorship skills and for those individuals who can mentor others well.

Word that describes you: DAD.

TRUE CONFESSIONS

What you like best about your job: I love the variety of the business and technical challenges it presents and working with our clients and the opportunity to pass on what I have learned to the younger staff.

What you like least about your job: Administrative tasks.

Pet peeves: Messy offices.

Most important lesson learned: Building a strong personal relationship with your clients is the key to success. They need to know you to be an honest person who genuinely cares about them personally and their businesses, so that when the tough conversation comes — and it will come — they know you are having that conversation for the right reasons, because you are genuine and you care and they trust your integrity.

Person most interested in meeting: Jack Nicholson. I think he would be interesting to have dinner with.

Three greatest passions: My wife and my family, fly fishing, traveling.

PREDILECTIONS

Most influential book: “Fish” by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen.

Favorite status symbol: Tommy Bahama.

Favorite restaurant: Donovan’s.

Favorite place for business meetings: Anywhere in Napa or the Rockies.

Favorite vacation spot: Rocky Mountains in the U.S. or Canada.

Favorite way to spend time: By a stream, with a fly rod.