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Apr 10, 2018 | Barry Lawrence, MBA, aPHR, HRCI Staff Writer

Deloitte’s $300 Million Investment in Employee Education, HRCI Certification

Deloitte University provides learning experiences for personnel to develop leadership and problem-solving skills, including those that can be used toward HRCI certifications.

This article was originally published in the Change Agents, a paid content program developed by HRCI in partnership with WSJ Custom Studios.

If you’re a professional with Deloitte, there’s a good chance you’ve visited Westlake, Texas. The small Fort Worth suburb is home to Deloitte University (DU), Deloitte’s 700,000-square-foot learning and development center for its personnel.

Eight years ago, Deloitte invested over $300 million in building DU, which is dedicated to helping Deloitte personnel develop leadership skills and innovative solutions to complex problems in the business world. DU has served more than 200,000 learners over the past six years by offering courses that can be used toward professional certifications, including those offered by the HR Certification Institute.

“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 robust learning and development that’s happening at DU, which has 800 guest rooms and 32 classrooms, is already paying off. Since introducing DU, Deloitte has seen positive impact on retention and in its recruitment efforts on college campuses.

“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.”

Heidi Soltis-Berner, managing director of DU and the Evolving Workforce Center of Excellence, Deloitte Services LP, says DU is “the single largest people-focused investment in the history of Deloitte,” which was founded in 1845. Offerings include retreats and courses focused on leadership, problem solving and innovation. New employees typically have their first DU experience during their initial few months at the organization, and managers and senior consultants commonly spend time in a development experience at the campus upon reaching milestones in their careers.

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

Pearce adds, “We’re mindful of the disruption that’s happening in the business world, such as the impact of digital automation and Big Data. There’s an opportunity for our personnel to understand those things, not be afraid of them and, in fact, become masters in those areas.”

Many of the courses offered at DU are pre-approved so they can apply the credit toward maintaining their certifications, including certifications such as a CPA, or obtaining other certifications, such as those offered from HRCI. Sponsoring and maintaining certifications and providing learning opportunities at DU—which often walk hand-in-hand—are two ways that Deloitte invests in its people, creating a culture of learning and development.

“Attending DU made me feel extremely fortunate and proud to be working for an organization that is truly invested in the learning and development of its people,” said one DU participant. Another said, “I’m proud to have joined an organization that invests heavily in its talent.” In Deloitte’s recent talent survey, 71 percent of respondents said, “Someone at Deloitte made a personal investment in my growth and development.”

 “I’m proud to have joined an organization that invests heavily in its talent.”

For Pearce, earning a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certification from HRCI helped him grow into a leadership role in the company. Early on in his career, he became interested in global workforce mobility—helping companies move 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 says. “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.”

So when Pearce saw a senior manager looking to make a 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 important, she gained confidence in her own expertise.”

Such certification experiences, coupled with the learning and development initiatives at Deloitte, 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 at DU, virtual learning offerings, and by seeking relevant certifications.