Jim Kolar gives people a loud voice at PwC, and it’s enabled the firm to transform the way it services clients

The Kolar File

NAME: Jim Kolar
TITLE: Managing Partner, Chicago Market

Born: St. Paul, Minnesota

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I worked for my dad, James Patrick Kolar. He was a pipe fitter by trade, but he and my uncle built a mechanical contracting business. I learned the value of a day’s work and how hard-working tradesmen really valued that experience and the satisfaction of being able to say, ‘Here’s what I accomplished today.’

What influence did your dad have on you? He prided himself on the quality of work that we did. He wanted to be known for high quality and he was as a contractor. When people had tough problems or tough jobs they needed done, they looked to my dad. He was there for them. I saw him make tough decisions. When you had to bid a job in the construction industry, it’s a tough business. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But make sure you deliver and don’t cut corners.

If you could speak with anyone from the present or past, with whom would you want to speak with? Nelson Mandela. I look at what he lived through in terms of personal persecution and those circumstances how he emerged from that. He had an opportunity around his brand and he could have taken it in any number of directions. He could have been vengeful and sought retribution for how he was treated. But his sole mission was to unify. What he did for that nation and who that nation is today is because of him and the path he chose.