Accounting firm Ernst & Young does not only offer a variety of career paths to people who are willing to stretch their abilities. It also ensures through a lifelong structured learning programme that every staff member is fully prepared to take up new responsibilities.
"We are well known for being the most globalised accounting firm. We offer some great career opportunities. At the same time, large investment is spent on training our people," says Agnes Chan, regional managing partner, Hong Kong and Macau region.
While the company does not have a specific management training programme, learning needs of fresh and recent graduates are fully catered for through EYU, meaning "EY and you", the firm's training framework focusing on three pillars: learning, experience and coaching.
New hires receive a "learning and experience map" which outlines all the training they can expect at different levels. It is also a diary of the experience they collect, and a nifty tool for the company for an easy overview of who is experienced in what.
"When we badly need someone with specific skills, we can look at the experience map and quickly identify a person [who can help]," Chan says.
Veronica Lee, a tax manager who has been with the company for six years, appreciates the comprehensive nature of the training. "Our training created a dynamic platform for us to share our experience and learn from our experienced executives," she says.
The company is proud of its diversity and inclusiveness. It offers equal opportunities for both sexes and for all nationalities: the Hong Kong office has recruited from more than 30 different countries.
Several programmes are in place to help women, including the "working parents' network" which is equally popular with men, and flexible work which allows mothers to work from home once a week, or take an extra year out for child rearing. Men can also have the opportunity to take time off for studies, for example. The firm's global nature means there are lots of chances to get overseas working experience under the "mobility programme" which extends 18-month secondments to the US, Europe or China, or move around Asia.
Lee advises fresh graduates to be focused, patient, professional and diligent. At the same time, they should be fast thinkers and willing to learn from others.
To become one of the 500 young graduates hired this year, applicants have to go through three rounds of interviews, including a written test, group discussion monitored by a panel of interviewees in an assessment centre, and a one-on-one interview with a partner.