Balancing the Board: Deanna Walker of Venturity On How To Get More Women On Your Board and Executive Leadership Team

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Flexibility: Empower employees to tailor their schedules to best fit their professional and personal lives and remove any bias regarding traditional work hours.

Despite ongoing conversations about gender equality, a gap remains in the representation of women in board and executive leadership roles. It’s more than just numbers — it’s about the enriched perspective, creativity, and insight women bring to the table. What are some strategies, initiatives, and real-world practices that have successfully elevated women to board and executive positions? In this interview series, we are talking to C-suite executives who can share their experiences and insights about “How To Get More Women On Your Board and Executive Leadership Team”. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Deanna Walker.

Deanna Walker has been an integral part of Venturity for over two decades and currently serves as the company’s CEO, working with her Management Team to provide inspiration and guidance on all aspects of the company’s strategic growth and operational initiatives.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about balancing the board, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

After earning a BBA in Finance from Texas A&M University and later an MBA from Southern Methodist University, the early part of my career focused on investment banking, corporate finance and acquisition financing. I was exposed to various companies, industries and management styles when making capital raising and lending decisions. These experiences taught me how to quickly assess situations, identify areas of risk and uncover opportunities for improvement. However, at the heart of these experiences lay the fundamental principles of leadership, effective communication, and a disciplined approach.

My professional journey took a pivotal turn when I joined Venturity and met our founder, Chris McKee. This is where I found my true calling. This opportunity allowed me to harness my accumulated knowledge to support business owners and management teams in diagnosing and resolving financial and accounting challenges.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One of the most defining moments of my career, which significantly changed its trajectory, was transitioning from a revenue producer to focusing on managing and developing people. Initially, I was hesitant about this new role, but I knew it was the right move for our company’s future, even though it diverged from the path I had imagined for myself. I had always seen myself as a dealmaker, thriving on the excitement of closing deals.

This transition began with a two-year journey alongside an executive coach, who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, embrace new challenges and learn the importance of being vulnerable. Instead of being on the front lines of developing client relationships and closing business, I was coaching, motivating and supporting others. Through this transition, I discovered a new calling, which started me on the path to leadership. This revelation reshaped my professional career and ignited a desire to mentor and guide emerging leaders within our organization. It’s been incredibly fulfilling, allowing me to contribute to the growth and development of others in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What sets Venturity apart is our unique blend of comprehensive process-based methods, exceptional client experiences, and flexible solutions for diverse industries and systems. We prioritize shaping our services so finance and accounting support rather than dictate operations. We’re equally committed to delivering Great Accounting and unparalleled Client Experience. We also embrace open-book management and take pride in being an employee-owned company. This approach empowers every team member to think like an owner, aiming to make every client relationship as fruitful as possible.

One example involves a family-run business that referred to us two years ago as they were preparing for an exit. The CEO recognized the company needed to shore up internal processes to guarantee optimal efficiency and maximum profitability. We came in with a focus on ensuring the accounting foundation was solid, including accrual accounting, GAAP compliance, maintaining a clean balance sheet and producing financial reports that accurately reflected the company’s operations. As a result, the due diligence process was seamless, enabling buyers to quickly understand the company’s financial performance and concentrate on the acquisition’s potential. After the sale, the company was ready to hit the ground running, with the finance and accounting teams perfectly positioned to support and execute the new buyer’s growth strategy, including further acquisitions and integration. Our ability to offer such comprehensive, flexible and tailored solutions allows us to not only meet our client’s current needs but also grow with them, ensuring their long-term success and sustainability.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

As a business leader who navigates the complexities of growth and change, I attribute my success to three core character traits: strategic communication, empathy, and curiosity. Each of these traits has played a role in shaping my leadership style and approach to business challenges.

Strategic Communication

My role as a strategic communicator became evident when I took over as CEO in December 2023. I had to balance my 20+ years of experience with the company and step into a role I was familiar with but had never actually held. I aim to be purposeful and consistent in my communication, especially during our transition from a founder-led to a CEO-led company with a growth mindset. I expressed my confidence in being the right person for the job while also acknowledging my vulnerabilities, nervousness, and the steep learning curve ahead. This openness about my journey and dedication to the company’s growth helped to build trust and consensus among my team, illustrating the power of authentic communication.


Empathy has been crucial in understanding and connecting with people, whether they’re team members or clients. I do a lot of business with working mothers who struggle at times to find the balance between their family and career goals. Recognizing that ‘balance’ is different for everyone and can change over time based on beliefs, experiences, environment and more. Empathy is key in building trust and becoming a reliable advisor in these conversations. I firmly believe there is no “right way” except the way that is right for you at the time. Drawing on my past experiences and showing empathy during these conversations, I can help these women make the best decisions for them, emphasizing that empathy in leadership is about meeting people where they are and respecting their journeys.


My natural curiosity has always driven me to find the deeper “why” of everything, from business operations to personal motivations. This trait is beneficial when identifying a client’s pain points. Through our company-wide questioning strategy, we can uncover the root causes of issues and assess if our solutions are the right fit. This approach also helps us deepen our client relationships, showcasing our dedication to truly understanding their challenges and delivering the best Client Experience possible as their Trusted Advisor. We can also quickly determine if we’re not the right fit so we can recommend another solution and get them the correct type of assistance. This deep-rooted curiosity ensures that we constantly learn from our interactions and continuously enhance our understanding of our client’s evolving needs.

Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? I’m curious to understand how these challenges have shaped your leadership.

In the fall of 2023, our leadership team made the decision to implement a round of price increases with our clients utilizing a different, more succinct approach. While we were uncertain about the outcome, we knew that our current process was not generating the necessary results to keep up with the rising costs of resources and technology. Additionally, our value proposition and the services we were providing to clients had evolved.

While we could have stayed with our existing, comfortable process and continued to work with underpriced clients, some of whom had been with us for many years, we realized this couldn’t be at the cost of our organization’s financial health and team member’s well-being. We had to make tough choices, parting ways with some clients who couldn’t absorb the increase. Meanwhile, others understood and believed the approach aligned with the value they were receiving.

This experience taught us not to be afraid to take a step back, admit something isn’t working and try a completely new approach, even if it means venturing into the unknown. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” This process reinforced for me the benefits of courageous leadership as we admittedly didn’t know whether or not we would succeed, but we supported each other in taking the steps to try.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. How do you view the importance of having more women on your board and executive leadership team? Can you describe the value they bring from your own experience?

Since our inception, we’ve been a female-dominated workforce, though our founders were men. Early in my career at Venturity, I was given the opportunity to be involved in key decisions and setting the company’s growth strategy, for which I was very grateful. I’ve seen firsthand the unique perspectives women bring to leadership. We approach situations collaboratively and with a holistic view, thinking through not just the immediate impact of decisions but their broader implications. I often find that these perspectives can be complementary to our male counterparts and foster mutual accountability, resulting in a successful, more collaborative outcome.

Reflecting on the last few years, what positive changes have you noticed regarding women in board and executive roles? Conversely, are there areas where progress has been slower or more challenging?

Over the last few years, I have seen more qualified women choosing to lean into executive roles and feeling supported to do so, both professionally and personally. This trend is encouraging because it reflects a broader understanding of the value women bring to leadership roles. However, we are still playing catch-up on the compensation front. We’re making progress, as there’s growing awareness and conversation around the importance of equitable pay. Women are increasingly advocating for themselves, highlighting their worth and contributions. Yet, this remains an area where progress feels slower.

What, in your view, might prevent women from seeking board positions?

Several factors might discourage women from pursuing board positions. One major obstacle is the lack of understanding about how to find board opportunities and put themselves forward for these roles. Many qualified women may feel lost on where to begin without clear guidance. There is also the challenge of self-perception regarding qualifications and value. Many women believe they must meet 100% of the job qualifications before applying, whereas men might apply when they meet just 60% of the criteria. This difference in approach can lead to women undervaluing their expertise and contributions, limiting the pool of female candidates for board positions.

While focusing on gender diversity, how do you also ensure a broader diversity of thought, background, and experience within leadership? How do these elements intertwine?

At Venturity, we are committed to all aspects of diversity. Our leadership team adheres to behaviors that align with our mission and core values, celebrating the diversity of experiences, thoughts and beliefs among us. We encourage using our voices, accepting responsibility, and giving honest and respectful feedback while showing compassion and empathy. We value our commonalities as well as our differences and are mindful of everyone’s journey. We also support each other’s development and approach decision-making conversations with trust and positive intent.

What are your “Five Things That Should Be Done To Get More Women On Your Board and Executive Leadership Team”?

To build a leadership team that includes more women in executive roles, we’ve focused on five key areas that I believe are essential to achieving this goal.

1. Flexibility: Empower employees to tailor their schedules to best fit their professional and personal lives and remove any bias regarding traditional work hours.

From day one, I was free to set my own schedule based on my role and decide how involved I wanted to be. This autonomy, combined with the support from leadership at the time, kept me engaged and committed to performing at the highest level. Over the past 21 years, my contributions have significantly impacted the company’s growth, leading me to the CEO position. The flexibility, trust and support I received from the beginning, which was especially important when my kids were young, are crucial. Without them, I might not have stayed beyond the first couple of years.

2. Training: Invest in leadership development and ongoing training for individuals and teams.

Continuous investment in training and development has been vital. This includes everything from enhancing leadership skills to fostering confidence and collaborating through trust-building exercises. This holistic approach to training has empowered our team to grow and excel in their roles.

3. Mentorship: Provide coaching and guidance for your team. It’s important to challenge self-limiting beliefs about qualifications and offer encouragement to aspire to leadership roles.

Venturity established its coaching program in 2021 to foster leadership and executive-level skills. This program provides an effective support system for team members new to leadership to understand and navigate various career and business challenges. Coaches are also given the opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills by providing insight, helping to set goals and providing constructive feedback. Participation in the coaching program is currently open to those on the leadership track, but Venturity plans to expand it to include all members of our organization, reinforcing our commitment to comprehensive professional development.

4. Compensation and Opportunity: Provide fair and equal pay for team members as well as opportunities for advancement into leadership roles.

By providing a defined path for advancement and guaranteeing equitable pay, Venturity has made leadership roles more accessible. This merit-based approach also demystifies rising into leadership positions, making sure all team members are aware of the opportunity and what is needed to be considered for the role.

5. Culture: Foster a workplace culture that values diversity, inclusion and everyone’s voice is heard.

From flexible scheduling to mentorship programs to open-book management, Venturity has cultivated an Engaging Environment where everyone feels supported and encouraged. This approach also enhances employee retention, ensuring our team members feel valued and invested in our shared success.

In your opinion, what role does corporate culture play in promoting gender equality? Can you explain?

Corporate culture can be the backbone for diversity and gender equality as it’s rooted in the company’s values, norms, beliefs and behaviors. A welcoming culture that prioritizes teamwork and inclusivity, collaboration, respect, positivity and the ability to use your voice sets the stage for a positive work environment and equal opportunity.

With your commitment to achieving gender balance and fostering diversity, what are the thoughts or concerns that keep you awake at night? How do these reflections shape your approach as a leader?

I take pride in Venturity’s commitment to diversity and gender balance. It’s essential to keep it top of mind as it is key to achieving a successful hiring and promotion process as well as ongoing team member satisfaction. Fostering an environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and eager to come to work is a top metric on my CEO scorecard. I think about it daily and am held accountable through our Office Vibe tool that solicits real-time feedback through anonymous questions focused on gauging employee satisfaction and happiness.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would set up a professional coaching and development program focused on preparing women leaders who aspire to the role of CEO. The program would take a holistic approach, covering all aspects of the role, professionally and personally. It would aim to provide women with valuable guidance, advice, and support from experienced professionals who have navigated a similar path. Participants would have the chance to develop essential skills and gain confidence through an encouraging environment designed to help them overcome any obstacles or challenges that may impede becoming a CEO. Additionally, the program would include a networking platform where participants can connect with like-minded peers, share experiences, collaborate on issues and foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.