PwC/Disney Leadership Training Program a Sign of Better Times

Apr 8, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

It pained PwC when it axed its leadership training program held at Disney World for 11 years. The Big 4 accounting firm was doing what it could to save employees in 2008, even if it meant cutting programs.

No longer.

PwC has revived its program with Disney, where interns who get hired on at PwC start out by spending a week at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. “We’re back again this summer,” says Amy Thompson, U.S. recruiting operations leader. “It’s a program that was difficult to cancel. It had a lot of history and from a firm perspective it was well known. We saw it as one of our signature events.”

Eight hundred hires will go through the program starting August 1. Then, 800 will do it the next week, and 800 the next. This is for people who are between their junior and senior years in college, with an offer in hand but a year or so away from starting the job. They’ll get leadership training that involves interactive hands-on activities for four days, activities such as culinary training, designed by the Disney Institute and PwC.

PwC sees Disney, though obviously in quite a different industry, as a pretty logical partner: both, for example, want to pound home the importance of customer service, whether the customer is a shrieking 6-year-old or a business owner.

I asked Thompson how big the Disney program is to PwC’s recruiting message — its value proposition.

“This is huge,” she says.

EY has its own leadership program, one that has helped it earn the ERE Recruiting Excellence award. Thompson says the difference in her mind is that EY’s leadership program is “internally focused,” she says, while PwC’s is “a combination of PwC and Disney.”

PwC is hiring about 10,000 people in the U.S. during the 2011 fiscal year, about 6,000 from colleges (with most of those being people who’ve interned with the firm) and about 4,000 already with experience. Those numbers are up over what I reported in 2009. Thompson says the program, in addition to being a recruiting lure, also helps PwC retain people once they’ve got their offer. “It validates and revalidates their choice,” she says. “We hope it has shown them that PwC is the place they want to work. This is the topper.”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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