Over the last five years, according to Ernst & Young’s “2019 Global Review” report, the firm has made 140 acquisitions, resulting in $1.8 billion in combined revenue. These acquisitions have been in a range of business areas; EY’s four main service lines are assurance, advisory, tax and transactions advisory services. Within its advisory business is a unit called “people advisory services” (PAS), which helps “clients gain a competitive people advantage by addressing complex workforce issues ranging from organization transformation, effective talent deployment and mobility to reimagining human resources within global organizations,” according to the report.

In other words, EY is no longer just an accounting firm, and this expanded focus is reflected in its January acquisition of PeopleFirm – a management consulting firm specializing in workforce and organization strategy, performance management, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and culture.

“PeopleFirm’s advanced performance management methods, rooted in content and data, will help further the results-focused work of EY PAS,” says Kim Billeter, EY Americas PAS leader. Talent management and talent development are changing, and organizations are looking to companies like EY to help them adapt.

The Modern Leader: Keeping the Human at the Center

Billeter stresses the need to “see people as a strategic asset for their organization’s success,” staying “human at the center.” As a result, more organizations are investing in developing a strong employer brand and being purpose-driven and socially responsible “to attract and retain talent.”

“Ultimately, we’re trying to put the human at the center of the employee experience,” says M. Tamra Chandler, founder of PeopleFirm and now a partner and principal at EY, as well as design learning and development (L&D) accordingly. In a world characterized by automation and digitization, it’s more important than ever for leaders to focus on the human beings they lead.

The Modern Leader: Investing in Employee Development

“The talent supply chain is under pressure like never before as the gig economy is changing the workforce,” says Billeter. Indeed, Training Industry’s 2020 trends report identified the gig economy as having a significant impact on L&D.

Demographic changes and disruptions in skills and business models will require leaders to rethink how they develop talent. Successful organizations will use “a comprehensive, agile strategy, supported by well-governed processes, smarter technology and deeper insights,” Billeter says.

Fortunately, while technology is disrupting talent development, it’s also creating new opportunities, “making it easy to empower people to own their careers and their development,” Chandler says. “It simply requires organizations to invest in the content and hand over the keys to the employees.” Successful leaders make the growth of their employees a top priority.

The Modern Leader: Transforming the Organization

A transforming world requires transformation in the organization — which requires transformative leadership skills. These skills include cultural awareness as the world shrinks, Billeter points out. Chandler adds, “Thoughtful leaders need to be ready to help the teams and individuals they support thrive in today’s chaotic world. That means connecting their people to a compelling purpose” and creating a work environment grounded in psychological safety. Organizations should “nurture these behaviors” by expecting, training and rewarding them.

“Talent is on the minds of all executive these days,” Chandler says, and Training Industry research concurs: Almost all surveyed executives believe L&D is important to achieving business goals. This shift in leaders’ perspectives on training puts L&D leaders in the position to play a critical role in driving organizational strategy and transformation. Fortunately, as major corporations like EY (and Korn Ferry) continue to add to their portfolio of talent solutions, learning leaders will not be at a loss for potential partners.