ISA Spotlight: $300 Million Investment in Deloitte University Pays Dividends

In a small Fort Worth suburb in North Texas, you’ll find a 700,000-squarefoot learning and development center called Deloitte University. DU, as it is known, represents a $300 million Deloitte commitment to develop leadership skills and incubate innovative solutions to complex business challenges worldwide.

More than 200,000 learners have passed through DU’s doors in Westlake, TX, since opening six years ago. The campus boasts 800 guest rooms and 32 classrooms and is an inspiring place to get away from daily tasks and focus on business innovation and leadership development. HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®) was the first outside organization to meet on campus in 2012 and has since held several board meetings there.

Today, the university offers courses that can help individuals earn professional certifications, including credentials offered by HRCI.

Deloitte’s Largest Investment in People

“We take development seriously,” says Jonathan Pearce, principal, Deloitte Tax LLP, and Transformation leader for Global Employer Services. “Our primary mission is to develop leaders who can help our clients navigate through the dynamic shifts that are happening in the world around us.”

The DU investment was Deloitte’s largest people-focused investment ever, says Heidi Soltis-Berner, managing director of DU and the Evolving Workforce Center of Excellence, Deloitte Services LP. The campus hosts retreats and courses that focus on leadership, problem solving, and innovation. New Deloitte employees typically visit the university during their first few months at the organization. Managers and senior consultants use the space for professional development.

“DU is a focal point of our development-centered culture,” notes Soltis-Berner, who holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR®) certification from HRCI. “Our people know they can come here to try new things and fail forward in a safe environment.”

Courses often focus on business disruptions such as the impact of Big Data and digital automation. Many DU courses are pre-approved, so credits can be applied toward maintaining certifications or licensures, such as a CPA. Sponsoring and maintaining certifications in conjunction with providing learning opportunities at DU are two ways Deloitte invests in its people, creating a culture of learning and development.

“Attending DU made me feel fortunate and proud to be working for an organization that is truly invested in the learning and development of its people,” says one DU participant. Adds another: “I’m proud to have joined an organization that invests heavily in its talent.”

Paying It Forward

Pearce earned his Global Professional in Human Resources® (GPHR®) certification from HRCI, a designation that helped him grow into a leadership role in the company. Early in his career, he became interested in global workforce mobility—helping companies shift their capabilities around the world. “Earning my GPHR allowed me to connect my deep specialization with many broader HR considerations, so I had a breadth of knowledge to draw from,” he explains. “As I maintain the certification, that knowledge expansion continues for me. Having this certification also helped me find a network of peers, which has resulted in more business opportunities that I can bring to my clients.”

Pearce recently returned the favor by helping a senior manager transition from an internal role to a client services role. He suggested she seek a certification from HRCI, as he had.

“She was apprehensive about not having experience in the client area,” he recalls. “In addition to coaching her, getting her in meetings and client discussions and such, the certification process had a great impact. She learned a ton, of course, but more importantly, she gained confidence in her own expertise.”

Such certification experiences, coupled with Deloitte learning and development initiatives, can have a powerful effect on Deloitte’s leadership capacities. Periodically, the Deloitte businesses update their certification guidelines and the support provided to their employees. Deloitte employees want the opportunity to learn and grow professionally through internal learning and development courses such as those offered at DU, virtual learning offerings, and by seeking relevant certifications.

About the Author HRCI CEO Amy S. Dufrane, Ed.D., SPHR, CAE, is a visionary leader with a passion for helping people, teams, and organizations excel. HRCI has a suite of eight credentials for every stage of your HR career (hrci.org/certification). Under Dufrane’s direction, HRCI has continued to expand its offerings to include self-paced learning and professional development opportunities. In 2018, the organization introduced its HRCI upSkill (hrci.org/upskill) e-learning and assessment modules to to power up people management skills.

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