Upskilling Story transcript

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Carol Stubbings (CS), Global Tax and Legal Services Leader Partner, PwC UK
Joe Atkinson (JAT), Vice Chair - Chief Products and Technology Officer Principal, PwC US
Bhushan Sethi (BS), Joint Global Leader for People & Organisation Principal, PwC US
Jon Andrews (JA), Programme Lead - Digitisation for the Global Network Partner, PwC UK

CS We recognised that there were huge societal changes going on. We realised that the skills we have today are not necessarily the skills we need for the future.
JAT We were watching disruption happen all around us – in the firm and with our clients. What our clients expected was for us to continue to deliver more value. Our people saw the need to have new skills to remain relevant to our clients.
BS We had to think about how do we become a digital business. Digital businesses develop products, digital businesses use different tools.
JA We needed to put a platform in place where they could all go to learn, but they could also all go to work using the new tools and then share the output of it across the entire world.
CS Upskilling our people was not only going to drive business benefits to our clients, but it was also going to drive a much better employee experience.
JAT We knew that we needed our employees and our teams across the world to be more comfortable with emerging technology, and we also knew that the pace of technology wasn’t slowing down. That required them to really start a journey of lifelong learning that’s not going to stop at PwC.
BS As you start to digitise the business, you have to think about “how do people work with technology?” “how do people adopt new technology?” “how do we drive the productivity in a sustainable way?”
JA We reflected very strongly on the amount of effort that we had put in to helping the firm build business led digital change, and realised that what we were really doing was missing a huge trick, and that trick was being unable to unearth the talent and innovation from our people.
CS This isn’t about making data scientists of everybody. This is about a different way of working. It’s also about changing the culture and changing the way that people work and interact with each other.
BS For us it was never the big bet just on tools. It was tools and a new set of behaviours and a new set of business skills to engage with our clients.
JAT Our first steps in upskilling were to launch a program that we called “Digitising the Network”. We started with 55,000 people in the US, and as we built that base line we then took the program across all 284,000 of our team members around the world.
JAT If this program was going to have the global reach that we knew that it could, we needed to meet our people where they were, reflect the diversity, the culture, and make sure that our program was inclusive for all of our people.
JA We put in place a range of upskilling programs, giving them a much more in-depth level of training in the technology skills.
JAT We had to keep it interesting, we had to keep it fun, we had to keep it social. We really needed to make it come alive from a gamification perspective. We believed if we could give high quality learning in small bites, meeting them where they are, that we could deliver a remarkable experience for them, which was going to translate into a great experience for our clients.
We started to see results right away. Our people created more than 6,000 assets in our digital lab, which was our sharing platform, that have been downloaded across our network more than 3 million times. As a result, they’ve taken over 7 million hours of work and redirected that capacity to higher value activities. Frankly the kinds of things that our clients expect from us, and the kinds of things that our people enjoy doing, much more.
JAT Then came COVID and everything changed.
JAT The pandemic impacted this programme just like it impacted every one of our clients and everybody around the world.
BS It was absolutely critical for us to not miss a beat.
JA We went from fully on premise-based academies to our first virtual academy in four weeks. The scores that we got at the end of people going through the virtual academies were higher than the scores we were getting from the physical ones that we’d run previously.
BS It was clear to us that our investments in digital and digital upskilling made us well prepared.
CS Those companies that invested in collaborative technology, that invested in upskilling their people, have definitely had a competitive advantage through this crisis.
JAT We’ve created agility among our workforce where they can respond to new and changing technologies and literally shift on a dime. We’ve created financial performance opportunities that give us investment capacity to keep growing the technical capabilities of our people and the technology services of our firm.
CS Even before COVID 74% of CEOs have said they don’t have the right people with the right skills, the can’t find those skills out in the market, and if they can they’re expensive, so they have to take the people that they have today and reskill and upskill them to drive their business outcomes for them.
BS The CEOs that are embracing upskilling are able to meet new customer needs. They’re able to innovate better products, and build the skills of their people which is better for them and all of the stakeholders.
CS But also, it’s hugely enhancing to their brand.
CS Now people look back and say thank goodness we did that.
  End slide: New world. New skills.
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