Deloitte University: Practicing What We Preach

Deloitte University: Practicing What We PreachPosted by William Pelster on August 21, 2012

This HR Times blog is about HR professionals talking shop with other HR professionals. So I’m glad to talk about how we at Deloitte are tackling some of the same issues of talent, leadership and learning and development as our clients and HR colleagues. We might also have titled this post, “Why we decided to spend $300+ million during a recession.” Here’s the story.

Like so many of the companies we work with, Deloitte was facing a talent crunch. Some of the biggest impacts on our workforce included a shrinking pool of client service talent, changing family structures, an increasing number of women, changing expectations among men, evolving expectations of Gen X and GenY and the increasing use of technology. We needed to find ways to recruit and retain talent and accelerate the development of our people, develop stronger leaders at various levels, sustain our culture in the face of rapid growth and support cross business-unit teaming and networking across our growing footprint. It was clear that we needed to increase our investment in and commitment to consistent learning and development and the idea of a single Deloitte University was born.

But what did that really mean? To figure it out, we did our homework, using focus groups and surveys to understand what our Gen Y employees were looking for in terms of culture and learning and development. (It might surprise you to learn that this highly tech-savvy generation still favored live off-site learning over eLearning and virtual learning.) We also asked our Partners and Directors what would enhance their sense of partnership and shared culture. In this way, our vision for Deloitte University evolved and expanded into an essential way to connect our people, leaders and culture. And it makes sense for us on many levels:

  • It improves the ROI on our learning spending, including consolidating our facilities-related spending—a significant portion of overall cost.
  • It clarifies and refines our learning strategy; emphasizes in-person training over virtual (which appeals to Gen Y) for our most complex topics; includes both technical and soft skills; and integrates with leadership development.
  • It builds two key things for us: a common culture through shared employee experience throughout the employee life cycle and external eminence.

More than a cool building
In the end, Deloitte University is meant to be “a place where leaders thrive.” And to that end, we’re using it to accomplish a broader learning and development transformation. It includes a curriculum overhaul — more strategic, more intensive, more market-focused and with more involvement from our best leaders. This is supported by a brand new toolkit comprising action learning, simulations, leader-led experiences, learning 2.0 technology, customized development and social learning — a lot of the same tools we’re helping our clients understand and adopt. We also created an integrated succession and development process for our “NextGen” leaders that focuses on experience (via career paths, special projects, rotational assignments and mobility) as the primary development mechanism. It also includes sponsorship from experienced mentors and coaches and networking to help these developing leaders learn the ropes and grow.

The point of sharing all this with you isn’t to pat ourselves on the back, but to demonstrate how keenly Deloitte, as a large global company, “feels your pain.” We understand organizational HR challenges because we live them — and we learn a lot from you, our HR colleagues, by relaying our experiences and learning how you are tackling similar challenges. Turns out, practicing what we preach is closely tied to the notions of “practice makes perfect” and “best practices” — so I hope you’ll comment and continue to share the learning and development issues your organization is wrestling with, along with the ways you’re addressing them.


William Pelster William Pelster (Bill), Principal, Deloitte Services LP, has over 20 years of industry and consulting experience. In his previous role as Managing Principal of Talent Development, Bill was responsible for the talent development experience of Deloitte’s professionals to include learning, assignments and career-life fit.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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