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July 14, 2008

Deloitte US plans $300 million learning and development facility to train and nurture staff

The world’s largest accountancy firm is to build a multi-million dollar learning and development centre to train and nurture a 45,000 person workforce. Deloitte US will invest $300 million in a 750,000 square feet (69,677 square metres) facility at Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, with construction due to begin next year.

Dubbed “Deloitte University” by the network’s global chief executive, Jim Quigley, the facility will serve as a central hub for Deloitte talent in the region, including new hires, professionals, partners and leadership.

It will comprise of 800 guest rooms, classrooms, multiple conference spaces, dining venues, a ballroom, a business centre, recreational facilities and a fitness centre.

The centre will host training programmes, leadership events, academic conferences and networking opportunities, and is due for completion in 2011.

Deloitte US partner Jon Eisele told the International Accounting Bulletin that the centre was motivated by a desire to invest in the learning and leadership development of staff.

“The whole cultural aspect is also very important,” Eisele added. “You’ll have people meeting and sitting in a class with others from all over the world. They’ll meet people from other functions. When you become as large as our organisation you have to become more intentional and deliberate in protecting your culture.” Quigley added that the facility would be used by member firms worldwide, and would also act as a beacon to attract new talent to the firm.

“When you think about building a world class campus and how it would influence the thinking of a key recruit trying to decide which professional services firm they want to work for, they see that campus and commitment built in their development. It’s going to impact how we compete for talent and how effective we are for retention,” he said.

Deloitte confirmed the facility is likely to be used extensively to train audit personnel on IFRS as regulators edge closer towards allowing US listed companies the choice to report under global accounting standards. This will be one of the largest training exercises ever undertaken by the US profession, but both Quigley and Eisele stressed the IFRS training requirement was not a factor in the timing of the announcement. Eisele said the centre will also provide technical training in other areas such as tax law as well as updating soft skills on new technology.

Deloitte said the centre would be built according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards established by the US Green Building Council. As the centre is located in the southern part of the country, Deloitte personnel will often be required to travel long journeys for training purposes.

When asked how this would impact the firm’s carbon footprint, Eisele responded: “I’m not sure this increases the pure amount of travel or carbon footprint or not. That doesn’t change the fact that is appropriate for every organisation to think about what can be accomplished through telesuites and that type of communication.”

He added that while Deloitte has recently increased investment in telecommunications technology nothing can replace the benefits of face-to-face interaction.

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