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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Deanna Salo

Managing Principal

Cray, Kaiser Ltd. CPAs & Business Advisors

Location: DuPage County

Founded: 1972

Industry: Public Accounting Firm

Deanna Salo joined Cray Kaiser LTD in 1986 and grew up working through the many industries and client engagements of the public accounting firm. From assurance to tax and advisory services, Salo continued to grow her expertise and the team around her. “Deanna has demonstrated an insatiable appetite of curiosity during her tenure,” said her colleagues. “She constantly challenged senior management to initiate efficiencies and automation, create new lanes of services and ways to recruit and retain top talent.”

Salo’s initiative led to her being the first female shareholder of the firm in 2001 and she became the managing principal in 2021.

Cray Kaiser LTD was founded in 1972 with the energy and vision to serve privately held and family-owned businesses and be the team of trusted advisors to empower companies and individuals to succeed financially and in all aspects of their businesses. The 50-plus years of serving Chicagoland businesses and owners is a testament to the firm’s success.

Throughout her tenure, Salo has leveraged internal and external resources to expand the marketing initiatives, not only focusing on the firm’s brand, but also focusing on delivering high-quality, thought leadership and community resources, leading with education in mind. In 2008, Salo initiated an alliance with the Entrepreneur and Family Business Council at DePaul University where the firm became the strategic partner of the organization as the public accounting firm specialist. She also established a mentoring program at the firm.

“Deanna Salo has been in the accounting industry for over 35 years, but that tenure isn’t what makes her a titan,” said her colleagues. “The fact that she takes a people-centric approach to every engagement makes her a titan to both her clients and her team.”

Her approach has led to accolades, including the firm’s recognition with the Better Business Bureau Torch Award and Salo’s spotlight in Crain’s Chicago where she shared her experience of being a working mom.

“Out of all of the accomplishments, each that hold a special place for Deanna, the ‘why’ for her is all about impact – the opportunity to have change in the physical or mental status of those around her brings the greatest joy,” said her colleagues.

Unique within the still traditional public accounting sector, Salo’s role of managing principal gives her visibility as a female titan, said her staff. “She takes that role and the responsibility that accompanies it, very seriously as she seeks to empower other women in the accounting field,” they said. “She recognizes the unique value that women bring to the workplace and leads a team that is made up of 50 percent women and a firm that is 66 percent women owned.”

For her industry influence, leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, Salo has been named a titan.

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What is your superpower?

Being curious – always. In an industry where clients call you ‘for an answer or for advice’, I lead with curiosity. This not only challenges me, not to blurt out responses which may or may not be relevant or impactful, but enhances the conversation with anyone, through asking more questions to get to the center of any issue.


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