Training Top 125 Best Practice: Fisher Investments’ Presentation Exhibition
Fisher Investments created its Annual Presentation Exhibition in 2013 as a way of discovering untapped talent to support Corporate Learning & Development’s expanding curricula. Today, the Presentation Exhibition supports the firm’s goal to develop breadth and depth in individuals through focused skill development and a great deal of visibility.
The Presentation Exhibition is a four-round public speaking competition. But it goes beyond just public speaking—unique skills such as business acumen, financial knowledge, or courage are highlighted with each round. Participants are placed in groups of five, and each group presents to a panel of three judges. Judges are team leaders and VPs throughout the business. They provide feedback to each participant immediately following his or her presentation. To eliminate subjectivity, judges are provided a strict scoring rubric. It’s not about whether they liked a presentation; scores are based on achieving specific skill levels defined in the rubric. Participants are allowed to pick up their scorecards and read the judges’ qualitative feedback following each round.
All competitors participate in the first two rounds, allowing them to apply the judges’ feedback from the first round. Only the top 25 percent of the combined scores from Rounds 1 and 2 move on to Round 3, and only five competitors compete in The Finals. The winner is decided through a combination of the highest scores from the judges, as well as an audience vote. Popular with spectators, the exhibition generally has approximately 200 employee viewers who participate in the final vote. Prizes, accolades, and sometimes even promotions are received based on merit.
Senior leaders are heavily involved in the competition. Not only do many executive vice presidents and group vice presidents serve as judges, they promote the competition within their groups by encouraging attendance at each presentation, and often create recognition plans of their own. Sometimes there is supplementary competition sparked within business units to match the cash prizes, and more often than not, hiring managers are in the room scouting the year’s top talent.
2018 was the largest year ever for the Presentation Exhibition, with 161 competitors. Over the last five years, 496 unique presenters have participated, with 15 percent participating in more than one year of competition. Of the 496, 11 percent have been promoted into front-line leader positions, and 2 percent have been promoted into VP-level roles. With a total of 305 U.S.-based managers at the firm, 21 percent are former Presentation Exhibition participants.
One competitor shared, “Six TLs, four GVPs, two LVPs, and two EVPs... Through the FI Presentation Exhibition, I gained exposure to 14 managers I otherwise would not have. Some of the best opportunities to grow your personal skill set and interact with senior employees reside outside of your current role. This is one such opportunity!”
The Presentation Exhibition has become a cornerstone of FI culture. True to the the firm’s mission, anyone can enter and anyone can win. The competition drives connectivity, engagement, and camaraderie across business units unlike any other program FI has. Each year, the firm rallies behind this common cause, recognizing the Presentation Exhibition is rooted in a competency core to Fisher Investments—Courage.