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EY Sri Lanka's Proactive Approach to Fostering Future-Ready Talent

Innovative, strategic solutions to meet the evolving talent dynamics for growth

EY Sri Lanka's Proactive Approach to Fostering Future-Ready Talent

Duminda Hulangamuwa,Country Managing Partner / Anushka Tissera Director–Talent

Amidst challenges in talent attraction and retention for many organizations in the country, EY Sri Lanka remains optimistic about the economy and emerging opportunities, aiming to continue attracting the right talent and building fulfilling careers. While acknowledging the migration of skilled professionals and labour shortages in other markets, EY Sri Lanka focuses on developing the next generation of professionals through strategic initiatives, say Duminda Hulangamuwa, Country Managing Partner of EY Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Anushka Tissera, Director – Talent, EY Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

What is your outlook for the economy and emerging growth opportunities?

We are optimistic about the economy and emerging opportunities and feel that we will be able to continue to attract the right talent.

EY is a place where you’ll have more than a job. People are the heart of EY. The more digital the world becomes, the more we must value our unique human skills. It’s EY’s people all over the world, who through their ambitions, ideas, insights, innovation, collaboration, diversity and curiosity help us achieve the EY purpose of building a better working world.

You’ll have the kind of career that can only come from an inclusive, supportive work environment, coaching and mentorship at every step, high expectations and, of course, exceptional people.

How is EY Sri Lanka addressing the challenge of talent attraction and retention, especially considering the migration of skilled professionals in response to shortages in other markets? Can you share specific strategies or initiatives in place to overcome these challenges?

Talent retention is one of the biggest challenges we face and is not limited to Sri Lanka. The migration of skilled professionals – particularly accounting professionals – and the labour shortage in other markets pose significant challenges. Countries like the UK and Ireland have a high demand for accountants, resulting in the departure of experienced staff from our firm over the past years. This challenge necessitates our focus on developing the next generation of professionals. EY took the initiative by establishing a programme with Sri Jayawardenapura University around 20 years ago. We provided internship opportunities to graduates from that university & the same has been extended to many other private and state universities. By capturing talent at an early stage and providing the necessary training, we aim to minimize the talent gap.

EY talent teams also spend time aiming at attracting A/L students who are fresh out of school and hoping to pursue a career in accounting and finance. To attract and retain the best talent our employee value proposition is at the heart of our recruitment strategy. The exceptional EY experience lasts a lifetime: no matter when you join us or how long you stay.

EY is also very proud of our strong alumni network. According to a new analysis of our global EY alumni community, we have over 84,000 EY alumni working at G360 accounts and 7,500 serving in C-suites, boards and other senior roles. It’s an incredibly powerful Alumni network. We are proud of our Alumni members who work all over the world and in high positions in Sri Lanka, They work with the Talent teams closely to help motivate the staff with their success stories.

Almost all “Boomerangs” ie staff who rejoin us, say that they missed the special EY spirit during their time away. 

Could you provide insights into the opportunities and programmes you offer to develop the next generation of professionals within EY?

We are change agents and cyber gurus; Performance improvers and problem solvers; Data scientists and growth hackers. Bot programmers and software builders. Risk managers and confidence builders; We are more than 395,000 global perspectives ready to welcome yours.

Your bold ambition is just the beginning. Benefiting from our global scale, our tech, our teams and our culture to realize your potential. Learn from the best, surround yourself with the best and curious, ask better questions to seek better answers and build a better working world.

The exceptional EY experience. It’s yours to build.

Attracting talent at an early stage and providing necessary training are crucial to address the talent gap. Can you elaborate on the methods and approaches employed by EY Sri Lanka to identify and develop talent from an early stage?

At EY, our purpose is to build a Better Working World. In a world where people are continually navigating transformative change, our purpose acts as our North Star guiding EY people — providing the context and meaning for the work we do every day. 

We believe a better working world is one where economic growth is sustainable and inclusive, and we work continuously to improve the quality of services, investing in innovation and EY people. We are proud to work with others to use our knowledge, skills and experience to help create long-term value and positive change for EY clients, people and society. In EY Sri Lanka we practice the value system of EY Global consistently in all jurisdictions.

EY Sri Lanka invests significantly in people through learning and development. Can you provide examples of how this investment equips individuals with both mindset and technical skill sets to excel in their careers?

Complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are likely to be the skills most in demand in 2030. In the emerging new work environment, people also need vastly upgraded digital, technical, management and cultural capabilities. At EY we ensure our people have the right skills, mindsets and skills to navigate the future.

We have also invested in the performance management of our staff and LEAD is our unique approach to developing EY people. Traditional performance management is an annual process driven by a look backwards. However, at EY, performance management is about so much more. LEAD is grounded in regular conversations about you, your career, your development and your growth and learning. It’s all designed to motivate and inspire you to look forward to what’s next by understanding how you need to develop to achieve your aspirations.

Maintaining a well-balanced gender representation at leadership levels is a priority. How does EY Sri Lanka actively work towards gender balance and diversity within its workforce, and what outcomes have been achieved thus far?

From employee health and safety to exceptional people experiences, the boundaries of HR are shifting in real time. HR teams must migrate from the services that have defined HR historically to the new people services that will define the function for years to come.

Diverse perspectives, combined with an inclusive culture and equitable opportunities, drive better decision-making, stimulate innovation, increase organizational agility and strengthen resilience to disruption.

EY Sri Lanka recently moved into a new office space. How does this move align with the company’s commitment to creating a world-class workspace, and how will it benefit your people and operations?

It is important to note that creating an upbeat, positive work environment can also play an essential role in increasing employee motivation. With our new office, we have ensured that we provide a variety of workspaces that will encourage new ways of working and enable our teams to work in an environment that best suits them and the task at hand. Our new office has spaces that allow staff to relax, recharge, or socialize with colleagues.

A variety of meeting areas have also been provided to foster multiple forms of collaboration and to encourage employees to work together in different ways & teaming.

EY Sri Lanka promotes a culture of lifelong learning. Can you share specific initiatives and resources that encourage team members to upgrade their learning needs, and how does this approach foster both professional and personal growth?

We have developed a tailored framework for evaluating, identifying, and rectifying the root causes of inadequate learning. Combined with our mature understanding of existing L&D approaches and their shortcomings, we use this to help our business develop a cohesive learning and development strategy that works for our workforce.

Creating an engaging and vibrant work environment is a priority. Could you provide examples of regular employee engagement activities that promote team building, encourage creativity, and foster a sense of belonging among your team members?

Team building activities can make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction, employee engagement and organizational success. Effective team-building activities make our staff feel more connected and able to collaborate more effectively. At EY we ensure that teams are engaged and emphasize the need to bring everyone together in a shared experience. The Talent Team organizes different team-building activities from annual gala nights to Karaoke nights to celebrating all the cultural days. We are proud of the diverse workforce we have at EY and ensure that all staff feel they are in an inclusive environment.