You’ve found Chris
There is a very, very strong teaming culture at Ernst & Young, really I think founded on the idea of if you hire the right people – and I think we hire great people, we hire skilled, bright, interesting people – there is no point then in trying to form them into a small cog of a machine. You hire great people, line them up in pretty much the same direction, and let them get on with it – give them autonomy. Allow them to be entrepreneurial in their behaviour and trust that they have understood overall what we are trying to do strategically as a firm, and that they will bring a skill-set that they may deliver in their own particular way, but they will deliver it very, very effectively. And together, that mixture of skills provides the most energy in the service that we can provide our clients. I don’t think we ever think that we know exactly how to do things. We know what we want to do, and that’s very, very clear in this firm, but how we do it is always up for grabs, and therefore the ideas and skills that new people can bring are always listened to, always valued, because challenging how we do things is always what we want to do.
We want to run a dynamic business, because our clients’ businesses are dynamic, and I don’t think you get the level of dynamism that you really want by sticking with the same hundred people, or even sticking with the same hundred people from the same backgrounds and sources as you do. We really do value new ideas on how to do things. That is absolutely fundamental to the development of our business. Therefore we need people from different backgrounds, who have different thought processes, whose brains are wired differently; because we don’t look for one type or person. We’re not looking for robots that we put into a business and are on a production line. We don’t look to develop one type of person.
As I said, the teaming culture is very, very strong at Ernst & Young, and that allows people to play to their individual strengths, but overall, for us to provide the right direction and business result as a team of people. And that allows you to really look for some quite different and diverse skills in the market. As a firm, it would be very easy to come up with some corporate style line on diversity and inclusiveness, and we could do that. We don’t, because we know how fundamental it is to the development and energy in our business; and I think that is why we have always looked to bring people in from different backgrounds, be it industry, be it for me, from a law firm, be it from the traditional routes into accountancy, be it a geographic diversity as to where people come from.
The last senior partner of this firm didn’t go to university. He came up through the ranks as an accountant. There is no bias on any particular background; what there is, is a valuation of people’s ideas and skills that they can bring into the business – and that, I think, is a fairly unique culture. I think you will see some of those themes described by others, but I think you would only need to be in our building for an hour to really feel that that’s the truth.