When discussion of Deloitte University first arose, it was about “bricks versus clicks.”
According to Maritza Montiel, managing partner of leadership development and succession planning, Deloitte University sparked a lot of debate inside the professional services company.
“Should we have multiple facilities? Should we not have a facility at all? Should we take that money and reinvest it in something else?” Montiel asked.
The company finally arrived at an agreement to go with a $300 million, 800-room brick-and-mortar facility. The location may begin to host some classes and lectures as early as June.
Bill Pelster, managing principal of talent development, said the idea is to invest in Deloitte’s workforce while developing and empowering its leaders.
He said that higher-order qualitative skills, like leadership and professional training, are best attained in a physical center, with employees learning those skills within the environments they will be utilized.
Pelster said Deloitte currently hosts three million hours of training. The new learning facility will take on a third of those hours. Two million hours will still be conducted through local offices and e-learning platforms.
According to Pelster, Deloitte took a look at where the market is going and what kind of skills would enhance its workforce in the next five to 10 years. With that outward look, the company concluded that it wanted to pursue the development of technical training.
“What we’ve done is develop a curriculum that focuses on that and actually puts people in front of simulation activities, where they get to also practice the art of what they know in challenging times in a safe environment,” Montiel said. “[It’s] partner-led learning through simulation.”
The benefit to having leaders physically present, Pelster said, is the ability to draw upon their personal experiences and insights of the firm and connect this to what is being taught in the classroom. A senior perspective of what is really happening inside of Deloitte, Pelster said, adds to the richness of the classroom.
According to Montiel, plenty of learning needs require e-learning, classrooms or virtual technology, and the company needed the flexibility to do all of this.
Deloitte University will host in-person lectures in a classroom setting as well as give professionals the option to join in online.
“Because it costs so much money to fly people to a facility, you want to have the flexibility to do e-learning,” Montiel said.
“We use all the virtual classroom technology that is common in the marketplace,” Pelster said. “We use a lot of the social networking capabilities that we’ve brought behind our firewall to make sure that people are connected.”
But it’s not the only way people will be connected.
Deloitte has made what it is calling the “tele-classroom,” which will bring all its telepresence technology into the classroom so virtual meetings can occur. This technology has been set up in five of Deloitte University’s classrooms.
According to Pelster, 15 of the company’s other offices also have the same technology, which will allow people to participate in classes without ever leaving the office. He adds that the key is trying to remove geography as a barrier to live learning.
“As we took a look at the entire landscape, Deloitte University to us is the embodiment of our commitment to build our leadership and professional skills,” Montiel said.