At 21, Anthony J. Conti could see the outlines of his future. He’d just earned a bachelor’s in economics from St. Joseph’s University and married his high-school sweetheart. And he was beginning to settle on a career in business. But doing what exactly, he didn’t know. Nor did he have any idea about how to begin exploring his options. He knew enough, though, to pursue his master of business administration degree at Temple University. There, all of the details quickly came into focus.“Thinking back on it, Temple really had a big impact on my life, more than I thought it would,” Mr. Conti says. “I spent 37 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and that started with Temple. St. Joe’s gave me a great foundation, but the Fox School gave me a way to start my career.” Mr. Conti took business classes in the evening at Temple while he taught religion at his alma mater, Cardinal Dougherty High School. (He minored in theology at St. Joe’s.) When he realized he qualified as a full-time student taking three classes during his first semester (meaning he paid the same tuition whether he registered for three courses or more), he increased to six his second semester and loaded up on accounting courses at the advice of a friend who was already working in public accounting. There was plenty of work to be had, he said. As formative as the education was, Mr. Conti thrived in the environment. “Temple was working-class then. Most of the other MBA students were there for the same reasons I was: Temple was accessible, flexible, and cost-effective,” Mr. Conti says. “So, we were there to work. Even the faculty had other day jobs.” The moment—or rather series of moments—that would come to define Mr. Conti’s Fox School experience were his interviews with the Big 8 accounting firms, arranged by the school. He was extended an offer from Coopers and Lybrand (which merged with Price Waterhouse in 1998). Mr. Conti began working for the firm upon earning his MBA in the spring of 1973, and he would go on to spend the whole of his 37-year career there, 29 of them as partner. In 1975, he was asked to specialize in healthcare at a time when few public accountants specialized. “But I took a risk and moved out of the mainstream. It paid off. Five years later, I was admitted to the partnership,” Mr. Conti says. In 1984, he moved to Harrisburg to open Coopers and Lybrand’s office there. Five years later, he headed west to oversee the Pittsburgh office. Another move, this one to New York City as vice chairman of human resources, followed. Then, in 2005, a few years away from retirement, Mr. Conti was appointed the managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Philadelphia office, a position to which he’d long aspired. Since retiring in 2009, Mr. Conti has been an inexhaustible civic leader. He chairs The Philadelphia Foundation’s Board of Managers and he’s the vice chairman of The Satell Institute. He was named to the Mayor’s and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education’s Business Leader Task Force on Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission after earlier serving on the Mayor’s Task Force on Tax Policy and Economic Competitiveness. And for several months between 2014 and 2015, Mr. Conti served as interim president and CEO of the United Way—as a volunteer. For those efforts and a number of others that aren’t cited here, he was presented with the Community Service Award at the Fox School’s inaugural Accounting Achievement Awards in 2017. Ask him, however, and Mr. Conti will say that his proudest achievement was meeting his wife, Linda, over 55 years ago. “For me, if you’re fortunate to meet your life partner, everything else flows from that,” he says. “If she’s not supportive of my crazy hours, moving or all the travel, we’re not happy, or it may not even happen. All of the other stuff, the accolades and money, all of it is really nice, but it pales next to the relationship I have with the woman I love. And with three wonderful children, all married now, and with nine grandchildren and one on the way, I’m a very lucky man!”
Temple University Degree
Master of Business Administration ’72, Fox School of Business
Title & Company
- Retired, Managing Partner Philadelphia Office, PwC
- Lead Independent Director and Audit Committee Chair, AMETEK, Inc.
- Member, Board of Directors and Audit Committee Chair, BioTelemetry, Inc.
- Chairman, Board of Managers, The Philadelphia Foundation
- Vice Chair, Advisory Board, Satell Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility
Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
- Accounting Achievement Community Service Award, 2017
- Guest lecturer, Fox School of Business
What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
I didn’t know. Here’s what I knew: Although I was teaching at 21, I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher long-term. Once I determined I wanted to get into business, that’s when I decided to pursue my MBA. But, at 20, I wasn’t really focused on what that would really mean.
Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
“Balance. Maintain a balance with everything that’s important to you—family, friends, community, career and self. At different times, certain elements will take on greater importance, but you need to be conscious of all of them at all times. An early mentor showed me that it could be done, that you could be successful in your career without compromising the rest of your life.”