Mary Crealese calls herself a “jack-of-all-trades,” and for those who know her, that description couldn’t be closer to the truth.
When committed to her many work projects or philanthropic causes, Crealese will put “her whole heart and soul into it,” said John Capone, audit partner in charge at KPMG, who has worked with Crealese for 11 years. “Here is somebody who likes to help others and looks out for others in many different ways. She’s very good at that. She brings that compassion into a professional setting that makes her very unique and special.”
Growing up in Brockton, Mass. the youngest of five children, Crealese learned the importance of giving back early on. One of her first charity involvements was with the American Red Cross where her mother worked; her father, meanwhile, was an electrician and “tremendous” piano player.
“My parents always were working and didn’t have much means, but they always gave back and taught us that’s what we needed to do,” said Crealese, who recalled going with her mother to help people displaced by fires at 2 a.m. and to her father’s holiday piano shows at schools for disabled children.
She also learned the importance of hard work. Crealese decided to go into accounting after an internship piqued her interest in the field. A licensed certified public accountant, she holds a degree in accounting from UMass Amherst and began her career at one of the then Big Eight accounting firms in 1986. Four years later, she landed at a specialty finance company and later moved to be the part-time CFO at a property casualty insurance company for seven years.
In 2002, she moved to Boston-based KPMG where she oversees her clients’ financial statements, providing opinion to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the documents are fairly stated. Crealese, who became partner at KPMG in 2006, is also involved in mergers and acquisitions, raising capital and initial public offerings. She has a variety of clients ranging from community banks, alternative investment firms and property-casualty insurance companies.
“I love that the fact that I learn something new every day, and I love the challenge,” Crealese said.
Meanwhile, she keeps busy with professional and philanthropic endeavors. She is the founder of several groups, including Boston Diversity Leadership Network, which helps businesses collaborate and share knowledge to have a diverse work environment.
Some of her favorite volunteer service includes working with Homes for Our Troops, running an annual golf tournament called The Neil Santry Memorial Greater Onset Open, founding in 2012 the Boston Women in Alternative Investments Networking group and being on the board of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.
She has also volunteered for her native Bridgewater, with roles on the advisory board and school building committee.
Being a mentor to KPMG employees is another of Crealese’s favorite roles. “As an audit partner, I’m always in the field with my staff. It’s about relationships. I hold a lot of different roles at KPMG, and those [mentor opportunities] are the things that really, for me, provide a tremendous sense of fulfillment,” she said.
Capone cited Crealese’s penchant for networking, recalling a story where she helped a former KPMG colleague get a new job at the firm years after leaving. The woman had called Crealese “to get career advice and to use her name as a reference for another job,” he said. But Crealese realized the woman was in fact well suited to go back to KPMG.
“Mary goes: ‘Call John [Capone].’ It was 8:30 at night. It was simple. She’s now a senior manager here,” Capone said of the woman.
As for Crealese, she remains grounded about her effect on others. “All of that [networking] goes back to growing up in a large city with a network and managing that network for my whole life,” she said. “I always make sure I keep in touch with the people that are impactful in my life.”