Meet The New Managing Directors

December 2017

This fall, we’re glad to welcome several new members to BDO’s Government Contracting practice. Get to know our newest managing directors.

  • Kathleen Kulp 
  • Wiley Wright
  • Paul Jan Zdunek

Q: Tell us a bit more about your background:

Kathleen Kulp : I graduated from Bloomsburg University with a major in speech communication and organizational development. Prior to joining BDO, I was a Senior Principal with QuintilesIMS focusing on systems integration for pharma manufacturers. I’ve spent the last 20 years in consulting.

Wiley Wright: I began my public accounting career doing traditional audit and tax work. After testifying for a client in a government contract dispute, I focused my next 30 years consulting on compliance issues and providing expert testimony in disputes.

Paul Jan Zdunek: I began my career as a conductor and have two music degrees: a Bachelor of Music in composition from The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Music in conducting from The Cleveland Institute of Music. After a decade of conducting, I realized my real interests were in executive management. Now I have an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, and have spent the last 15 years helping facilitate turnarounds for troubled organizations.

Q: What are some specific milestones in your career? What challenges have you learned from?

KK: My first entry into consulting was with CSC, a consulting firm. I was coming from the automotive industry and had no technical or consulting experience. I attended an 8-week intense training program that was supposed to prepare me for coding and consulting. I hated it, yet 20 years later I’m still in consulting and in a business systems role. The point is, you have to work through the things you think you don’t like because you never know where they will lead. By chance, I ended up with a large pharmaceutical client and over the years I’ve worked with that client numerous times. 

WW: My first milestone was transforming my work from traditional to specialized services. My second milestone was my successful 30-year relationship with the Department of Justice, providing expert testimony. My third milestone was earning recognition for a national top-50 jury verdict in a lost profits case.

PJZ: My biggest “ah-ha” moment took place during my time at the conservatory listening in on colleagues’ practice sessions: “Being excellent at what you do is not enough, it’s a given. You have to find what differentiates you from the rest of the pack – that differentiator is what ultimately will make you wildly successful.”

Q: How have you developed technical and industry knowledge to advance in your career?

KK: The majority of what I know I’ve learned from doing. Having many clients afforded me the opportunity to see how companies approach a common task of contracting. Most large pharma manufacturers use the same technology, but how they use it is different—it’s a different project every time. I also attend various conferences each year and keep in touch with previous clients, checking in on their progress and changes.

WW: For me it comes down to research, and connecting specific issues on cases.

PJZ: I develop new skills, knowledge and ways of doing things every day by remaining curious about everything around me, from new challenges I may face during a client’s crisis, to conversations I overhear while standing in line at the grocery store.

Q: What advice would you offer young professionals?

KK: Talk to people—don’t wait for someone to come to you. Be the first to initiate the conversation and have a strong handshake. First impressions matter. Don’t answer a question you don’t know the answer to. It’s OK to say that you’ll get back to someone with the right information.

WW: Out-prepare any adversary in a dispute setting and know all of the details.

PJZ: If you focus on consistently doing great work, your career will take care of itself.

Q: How did you come to be interested in what you do?

KK: It was an accident getting here, but over the years it has kept my interest because there’s so much to learn. Just when you think you’ve got it, there’s a change in the business approach. It also helps to work with people that you like to be around and can spend long days with. You can learn a lot from their experiences, and if they’re excited, it can be contagious.

WW: My competitive nature led me here.

PJZ: I found out by chance that I was good at turning organizations around, and I loved doing it! It’s like solving a jigsaw puzzle. When someone tells me, “that’s impossible to solve,” that gets my energies roaring and I can’t wait to prove them wrong.

Q: What role did mentorship play in your advancement?

KK: I’ve had a few great mentors in many areas during my career. Some formal, but most informal, which I find can be better in some ways. You have to find the people you admire and emulate the behavior you see. You have to be the change.

WW: Mentorship provided the opportunity to testify early in my career.

PJZ: Mentorship, and most importantly building and utilizing my network, was and continues to be the key to my personal and professional career success.

Q: What’s your personal motto?

KK:  Live today, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

PJZ: I have two mottos that drive me: “If you don’t try for it, you’re absolutely guaranteed not to achieve it.” The second motto I borrow from business management and nonprofit guru Peter Drucker: “The only way to predict the future is to create it.” 

Kathleen is based in BDO’s Philadelphia office, Wiley is based in BDO’s Annapolis office, and Paul is based in BDO’s Los Angeles office.

Other notable recent hires include Mark Baker, Ted Needham, Erin O’Shea and Jim Telesmanich as directors, and Geoffrey Merritt, Kathy Stnons, and Erin Wilkerson as senior managers. 

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