The 2016 Top 25 Consultants: Chris Pontrelli

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Chris Pontrelli EY Excellence in Leadership

Before becoming a consultant, Chris Pontrelli was a military aviator. He learned under fierce conditions to bring 100 percent focus to his mission, apply extraordinary discipline and creativity to problem-solving, and build absolute trust among his team.

And achieve extraordinary results.

“I am proud of what my practice has done this year, helping our great clients achieve their objectives,” Pontrelli says. “As a result, we are growing our practice by over 25 percent while achieving the highest levels of engagement with our staff. We have managed these opportunities and growth while enabling great focus and results in the area of diversity and inclusiveness.”

Pontrelli is a Principal in the New York office of EY’s Business Advisory Practice. He has over 20 years of advisory services experience working with many Fortune 500 companies and business startups in the industrial products, pharmaceutical, communications, logistics, and leisure industries.  He has performed finance transformation and standardization engagements for over 35 companies in the U.S. and internationally.

Pontrelli says his consistency is a pretty big deal. “I’m all about getting the optimum outcome for the client on every engagement, no matter what its size or scale, no matter how simple or complex it is,” he says. “I think this comes from my background as a military aviator. I have always brought total and absolute focus to my mission, and I’m always applying that problem-solving creativity that the Navy is renowned for.”

That was on display when Pontrelli and his team were working with a Fortune 500 client who was in the midst of a major acquisition, when it discovered its acquisition company was violating U.N. sanctions. “Not only were we able to help the acquisition meet Department of Justice compliance requirements, but we showed the client how a total makeover of its entire finance organization would also save $40 million annually while enhancing strategic capabilities for running its business.”

Seeing the big picture like that, developing an unexpected solution that delivered outsize results on multiple levels, and having his client contact continue as his client even after he moved to another company, is all very gratifying, he says.

“If you have a military background, you don’t know any other way to work. But the human side of consulting is also a huge driver for me—always take care of your people.  For me this includes EY’s employees and our client,” he says. “I start every engagement with the objective of creating a life-long client—a client who will stay with me not just because I delivered the desired outcome, but because they trust me whole-heartedly to have their best interests at heart. I’ve been in consulting for 20 years and every single client would write me a letter of recommendation the moment I asked.”

What does winning the award mean to you, your firm and your clients? 

“I like the way this question is asked, because it is really that triad of the great people at EY, the clients and myself that has won this award. It is always a nice thing to receive affirmation for my work. But I see this recognition as being affirmation for the work we collectively do as client/consultant teams.”

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