Tenacious P: Pete Shimer’s endurance for the race comes from not having a finish line

Pete Shimer (BA 1984) is the Deputy CFO of Deloitte. Approximately 3,000 people with financial responsibilities report up to him. He’s also a family man and community builder, highly committed to four pillars: youth, education, athletics and faith. Sound like a lot to juggle? “Well, as I tend to tell people, sleep is overrated,” says Shimer.

If you’re interested in what makes Pete Shimer tick, the first thing you need to know is: that statement is a massive oversimplification. Shimer has a long-standing belief that the only thing you can control along your path is how much dedication you bring to the task at hand.

“I’ve always known that I was going to need to outwork the other person,” says Shimer. “Just like when you play defense, it often comes down more to desire than natural ability; it’s really about how tenacious you are.”

In fact, Shimer did play defense for the Husky men’s basketball team (1980-1984) while he studied business at UW. “I was the back-up to the back-up point guard,” Shimer says. “But I did manage to score a point in the 1984 NCAA tournament.”

One of Shimer’s responsibilities was scouting the offensive patterns of opposing teams and running those plays during practice. It wasn’t a glamorous job but one his teammates definitely appreciated.

“There are piano players and piano movers,” says Shimer, “and you need both. I was a piano mover.”

Accounting and basketball

Growing up in Oregon in the shadow of Nike headquarters, Shimer always had a passion for athletics, and has been a product tester for Nike since age 13. One of the facets of sports that captured his interest was statistical analysis. So it’s no wonder the data symmetry of accounting appealed to him when he took a bookkeeping class in junior high.

His decision to come to the UW and study accounting was based on the reputation of the business school, a desire to play basketball and the opportunity to explore a new city. An internship at Arthur Andersen introduced him to the world of Big Eight accounting firms, and upon graduation he went to work for what was then Touche Ross.

When it comes to keeping his edge after three decades at the same firm, it’s helped that Shimer’s roles have allowed him to play across the breadth of Deloitte’s business practices, and at many different levels. But his secret to keeping it fresh comes from a love of life-long learning.

“I probably got it from my mother,” says Shimer. “She’s 87 and is delivering meals to ‘old’ people, doing the NYT Crossword every day and moving through life without a finish line. Complete something? Great. What’s the next thing?”

Focus on community

Throughout his career, Shimer has stayed focused on his community. He and Laurel, his wife of 25 years, have four kids, and Shimer has been a coach to all of them. He continues to coach club soccer even though his kids are all college age or older. He is a coach and mentor to many.

He also gives back as an active board member and volunteer to the Foster School, YMCA, Seattle Foundation, UW Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

To students or recent graduates wanting to follow in his footsteps, he offers this: “You’ve got more preparation and talent than any generation before you, but you need experience. You need the battle scars to help make the judgment calls. You need the repetitions to build the core competency. And you need to learn lessons from the discipline of your routine. I’m typically at work by 6 a.m., but that’s meaningless unless I’m learning from it.”

And that’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect him to say—because he means every word of it.

This article, by Eric Nobis, originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Foster Business magazine.