By Frank Byrt
Big Four accounting firm Deloitte has taken a unique approach to employee training and leadership development at its huge educational facility that's been dubbed Deloitte University (U).
Built on 107 acres in Westlake, Texas, and completed in August 2011 at a cost of about $300 million its centerpiece is a 700,000-square-foot building that features:
- Thirty-five classrooms equipped with advanced technology services.
- Thirty-six "team" rooms for more intensive simulated workplace experiences and seminars.
- A grand ballroom, an amphitheater that seats 176 people, and 800 guest rooms.
- Three restaurants, a state-of-the art fitness center, and more.
Neda Schlictman, Deloitte's chief learning officer for the tax practice, told AccountingWEB in an interview that the facility represents the firm's investment in its people and the confidence that it will pay off in improved services for clients. "We built this facility in the down economy, and it shows we're in the business of people . . . that's where we want to make our investment", Schlictman said.
"We invest a lot in our new hires, and that continues throughout their careers", she said. "Our mantra is we're building leaders from the front at all levels."
Schlictman said an estimated 30,000 employees are expected to go through some sort of learning or leadership program at the facility annually. More than 40,000 employees from seventy countries attended Deloitte U in its first year. Sessions are led by senior leaders from the firm, and participants range from new hires to senior partners.
"It's not a lecture-based curriculum", Schlictman said, but rather",participants engage in interactive business simulations to replicate real-life problems that our clients face and how we can help solve them."
New hires in the tax practice, for example, typically spend one week at their home office in training upon joining the company, then spend twelve days at Deloitte U, then return to their home office and undergo additional training, along with other duties, for the balance of their first year on the job.
Schlictman said community service is an integral part of Deloitte's corporate agenda; indicative of that, 400 of its latest tax hires participating in training at the center recently took part in a community service event in support of the charities Stop Hunger Now and Wine to Water.
It's part of Deloitte's approach to talent development, team building through collaborative decision making, and a commitment to community service throughout one's career, Schlictman said.
In an evening's effort, participants packed more than 100,000 meals and built 100 water filtration systems to be distributed to third-world countries worldwide.
Another example of Deloitte's public service agenda is its continued sponsorship of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), including at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The firm said it helps the USOC shape long-term strategy and improve operational efficiency by providing the organization a range of business services.