For the past ten years, Aperian Global consultants have been invited to run cultural preparation workshops for EY (formerly Ernst & Young) professionals partaking in their high-impact EY Vantage Program. This program was created to stimulate regional economic growth by supporting high-impact entrepreneurs while providing development opportunities for mid-career professionals in foreign environments. We are proudly contributing our expertise on global leadership and cultural agility to this amazing Corporate Responsibility (CR) initiative.
High performers are sent on a six-week, out-of-country stretch project that focuses on tackling specific barriers to business growth for the identified entrepreneurs, in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, or Peru for the Americas region. Kristen Gold, EY Americas Corporate Responsibility Assistant Director, and EY Vantage program manager explains why the professional services organization continuously invests in such an initiative:
“Data shows that EY Vantage has a direct, positive impact on 1) developing our people, 2) creating societal impact and 3) building relationships. From a talent perspective, the program provides a real stretch opportunity for our rising leaders while developing their global mindsets and inclusive leadership styles. Participants in the program, Vantage Advisors, have higher engagement and stay at EY longer. In terms of impact, the program is a clear demonstration of EY’s purpose of Building a Better Working World by supporting high-impact entrepreneurs, who are key to growing an economy, especially through job and wealth creation. At the same time, participants are building relationships with their entrepreneurs and expanding their EY networks across borders.”
We’ve spoken to two Vantage Advisors about their professional impact. Given our involvement, we were particularly curious about the global aspect of the program and wanted to hear how their experiences have shaped their mindsets going forward.
Aditya Ponnam, a senior manager for EY Houston, took his skills and competencies to Brazil to help Neoway with their go-to-market strategy for an expansion into the United States. His scope for the project was focused on the determination of market segmentation and on the size of addressable market in specific verticals. He researched the data landscape for sales and market intelligence, conducted competitor analysis, and supported the development of a viable business model.
He confirms the preparatory value of Aperian Global’s cultural agility workshop:
“The training helped me understand cultural nuances very well, including how to apply those nuances in the workplace environment as well as outside. Aspects like greeting and responding, showing appreciation, providing feedback, garnering consensus, and social mingling styles vary from country to country, and the training helped me understand how to apply them in Brazil’s cultural environment. It was extremely useful in my time there.”
Kelly Haynie, an assistant director for EY Houston, also spent the six weeks of EY Vantage in Brazil. Her tasks were directed at developing a compensation and benefits strategy that included a short-term incentive plan, sales compensation, and a stock options program. Kelly notes:
“Based on the pre-departure cultural training, I learned that my success hinged on a strong relationship as it would translate into how much trust and teaming I would receive. Once I arrived, I quickly noticed that my attire was very formal and more traditional business versus the attire the entrepreneur and employees were wearing. During the second day of me wearing ’less formal’ attire, the entrepreneur told me…he knew I would really fit in and help his organization. The cultural training helped me to connect these dots to take verbal and nonverbal cues to build a relationship.”
While not being able to pick a favorite success story out of the seven different cohorts she has managed in the EY Vantage program, Kristen loves to hear about the difference participating in the program makes for Vantage Advisors. Whether it helps them differentiate themselves from their peers or get into a new role, the direct market experience and personal development journey they embark upon is a highlight of her work.
Kelly expressed her gratitude for the program: “I have developed strong relationships with over a dozen people who live in Brazil. I feel that having those relationships has enhanced my life beyond measure. On the professional side, I have a much stronger global mindset now, which has made a direct impact on my work and the value of the inclusiveness activities that I’m closely supporting.” Aditya confirms that “the program enhanced my comfort with respect to building networks with cross-service-line teams as well as working with diverse teams to better serve our clients. The program allowed me to stretch my experience to work in a new environment and advise on plans that have a direct impact on the growth of a business. It also improved my confidence and motivation because of the global impact I was able to make with my contributions to the community and the entrepreneur, and helping to build a better working world.”
Aperian Global would like to thank EY for their continued partnership and congratulate them on investing in initiatives such as EY Vantage to develop successful and culturally agile leaders of today and tomorrow.