One of the biggest consulting companies in the world is also one of the biggest employers of business school graduates. So it’s news when Deloitte announces a new partnership with a leading B-school — even more so when it announces more than half a dozen of them.
Deloitte this month unveiled the names of six universities and colleges that will participate in the second year of its Future of Work Institute, which helps students develop skills, navigate change, and understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in the new economy — bridging the gap between what they learn in B-school and what the market demands. The business schools at Boston University, Florida State University, Howard University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Southern California, and Dallas College will follow in the footsteps of 10 B-schools that hosted Deloitte’s “groundbreaking curriculum” in 2021, when 250 graduated with microcredentials in new workplace strategies.
And in a separate announcement, the consulting giant says it will launch the Deloitte Initiative for AI and Learning at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business; the artificial intelligence research initiative will seek to help expand learning and development opportunities for faculty and students across the university’s various colleges.
NEW AI INITIATIVE AT MARYLAND: THE ‘FOREFRONT OF CUTTING-EDGE RESEARCH’
Deloitte is viewed as the top consulting firm in the world in a number of areas, including financial consulting, human resources consulting, and public sector consulting, according to the most recent rankings by Vault, ranking 11th overall in the Vault Consulting 50. However, Deloitte is not as highly ranked as its MBB competitors — McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group — in data science areas, which makes its new partnership with Maryland Smith — widely viewed as a leader in AI, data analytics, and research — potentially fruitful for both parties.
The Deloitte Initiative for AI and Learning, or DIAL, will build upon previous Deloitte and Smith collaborations, such as the Smith Analytics Consortium. Funding for DIAL was provided by the Deloitte AI Institute for Government. It will serve both graduate and undergraduate students. According to a news release, the DIAL program will focus on:
- “Furthering the adoption and development of ethical safeguards for privacy, fairness, and transparency to protect against negative impacts of algorithmic bias and other AI risks.
- “Helping government agencies address and remove the barriers to implement AI and advance administration priorities with AI at the enterprise level.
- “Supporting the government’s use of ethical and trustworthy AI to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
- “Improving AI-human interaction and collaboration as well as human perceptions of AI, whether among organizational leadership and the workforce or end users and citizens.”
“The DIAL program enables Smith and Deloitte to continue their critical collaborations at the forefront of cutting-edge research and emerging technology,” says Wedad Elmaghraby, dean’s professor of operations management at Maryland Smith. “This includes partnering with local industry and federal partners to drive innovation for the public good, creatively pushing our students to embrace analytics challenges in new and unexplored areas of importance and investing in our understanding of ethical, trustworthy artificial intelligence to further its potential promise.”
Adds Darren Schneider, Deloitte principal: “As the volume of available data grows, so too does the government’s need for technologies and policies that can generate valuable insights from it. Alongside our longstanding work with the University of Maryland, DIAL will help provide policymakers, industry leaders, researchers and the broader public with a deeper understanding of artificial intelligence.”
A NEW CURRICULUM FOR A NEW LANDSCAPE
Deloitte specializes in so-called “future of work transformation” such as advising businesses and governments on emerging workforce and workplace strategies. It launched its Future of Work Institute in 2021 at 10 business schools in the U.S., including American University’s Kogod School of Business, Boston University Questrom School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business, and USC Marshall School of Business. This year, six schools are participating, though more may join, according to a Deloitte spokesperson.
The Future of Work curriculum emphasizes the development of “empathy, emotional intelligence, written and verbal communication, adaptability and resiliency, curiosity, critical thinking and problem-solving, and logical reasoning” — skills that “positively influence students’ empathetic listening, creativity, collaboration and teaming,” Deloitte says in a news release. The program confers microcredentials on graduates “through a short, focused training that identifies a person’s competence in a skill.” The rise of microcredentialing is itself a component of the evolving workforce, the company says.
“Increasing connectivity, robotics and technology continue to change the nature of work, while new talent models and the gig economy are reinventing jobs,” says Roy Mathew, Deloitte principal and the firm’s national practice leader for higher education. “Earning a college degree is as important as ever, but it’s critical for students today to embrace resilience as a mindset, understand that they may need new skills as their careers progress, and adopt lifelong learning practices to keep their competencies relevant.”
‘IT’S ACTUALLY OPENED MY EYES A LOT’
The Future of Work Institute bridges a critical gap between the B-school classroom and what employers say they need in labor market, Mathew says. The institute is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
“From junior university students starting to explore future career options to masters’ students who have experienced disruption in previous careers, the Future of Work Institute is meant to help students prepare effectively for a career that will inevitably change and be disrupted,” Mathew said. “This skill could be especially important for first-generation students who might be exploring a career path for the first time.”
The key focus of the program is on the future, says Darren Brooks, assistant dean of Florida State University College of Business and a Future of Work Institute advisory board member.
“By pushing participants to examine where the world of work is heading, students can identify the competencies necessary to contend in a highly competitive, global marketplace. This complementary program enhances the academic experience of my students to ensure they are prepared for whatever direction the future of work takes.”
Adds BriAunna Palmer, a student in the College of Business at Florida State University and Future of Work Institute graduate: “The facilitators were really awesome — they have shown me different ways that I can leverage my major and what I want to do in the future. It’s actually opened my eyes a lot to how it’s changing and how we should prepare for it.”