By Laura Newinski
Recently KPMG was honored to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from Junior Achievement (JA) for donating more than 15,000 hours of volunteer time globally over the course of a year. Having joined the JA USA Board in late 2018, I feel particular pride in our people’s commitment to the century-old organization as the country observes Financial Literacy Month.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that students with the highest levels of financial literacy are more likely to be oriented toward saving, earning a college degree and working in a high-skilled occupation.
JA’s focus on financial literacy dovetails with KPMG’s position as a Big Four professional services firm committed to lifelong learning. In the last two years especially I’ve immersed myself in our firm’s lifelong learning strategy, leading a team that is building KPMG Lakehouse, our new learning and development center in Lake Nona, Florida.
As our firm has discussed how to best develop critical skills in our future leaders, we have embraced a learning model that fosters experiential learning beyond the traditional classroom, including activities that support our citizenship values. My own experiences as a volunteer, as well as those shared by our JA volunteers, have reinforced to me that community involvement can cultivate important skills among our diverse and talented professionals.
While our 1,700 JA volunteers most often attribute their involvement to a desire to give back to the community, they also frequently highlight the ways volunteering has aided their own professional development. Problem solving, relationship building, public speaking and networking are regularly cited as skills they have gained or honed.
In my role as JA board member and the leader of our Lakehouse initiative, I am seeing lifelong learning through a fresh lens that more fully appreciates the connection between learning and hands-on experience. As our professionals work with JA students, they are enhancing their own skills that will position them for career advancement while reinforcing the best of our firm’s culture.
So, how should leaders encourage the spirit of volunteerism in their people—especially the millennials who constitute nearly half of the workforce? Should we emphasize personal gratification or professional development? I can’t claim to know the perfect formula, but it seems clear that it’s some combination of both. Millennials are achievement oriented. Studies suggest that the best way to appeal to their generation’s interest in doing good is to offer them the opportunity to broaden their experience, learn new skills and network with other volunteers.
I’m encouraged by the opportunity for KPMG and other companies looking to engage their people in meaningful and purpose-driven volunteerism to adopt the “everyone benefits” approach. To me, that is truly the ideal formula.
Laura Newinski is KPMG's Vice Chair, Operations. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Brandon Hatler.