12 Dec 2019

EY prepares its People for the Future of Work

Guest blog: Astrid Mehrtens-Haupt, EMEA Sales Director, Aptum and Member of techUK's Skill and Diversity Council.

In my last article I looked at the skills sets needed to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and concluded that employers will need to invest heavily in reskilling initiatives or risk losing talent and market competitiveness.   Let us now look at a case study where an employer has successfully launched an initiative to upskill their workforce.

techUK member EY launched the ‘EY badges’ programme in 2018 to help employees earn digital credentials by developing future focused skills and gain experiences that can shape their career. Eighteen months into the programme, I spoke to Riaz Shah, Partner at EY and lead of global learning, on results, impact and best practices of the programme.  Narmada Guruswamy, a techUK Skills and Diversity Council board member and Assistant Director at EY, facilitated the discussion.

The programme has been a notable success. Over 15000 badges have been successfully completed on either bronze, silver, gold or platinum level with 65000 courses in progress at this point. There are 87 different badges available in overarching domains of Data Analytics and Leading Technologies and cover areas such as information strategy, data architecture, automation and blockchain as well as badges for skills like transformational leadership or inclusive intelligence.

A big differentiator and success factor for the EY programme is, that besides 15 hours of online or classroom,  the student has to demonstrate basic understanding of studied concepts through internal or external conversations as well as share the acquired knowledge through thought leadership, coaching, conferences, social media, client presentations or other relevant channels.

While the badges are not externally accessible or accredited, EY’s strong brand has help to develop the badges into its own externally valued career currency. Platinum level certification means expert level competence on global level and comes as a physical plaque.  Employees recognise the programme to prepare themselves to manage future disruptive technologies, deliver better services to clients and further their own careers by developing their personal branding. EY people can share their badges on social media, and badges are also used to match EY people with relevant projects. 

The adoption of the programmes differs inside EY but is particularly high in regions where there is strong leadership buy-in and where learning is rewarded and recognised as part of the company’s culture.

Riaz warned not to underestimate the complexity or resources needed to establish your own badge system and recommended particularly to smaller companies to start with a very few domains only - EY started with Analytics. He advised to leverage freely available online learning platforms like LinkedIn or Coursera. Further complexity to the scheme comes through the advanced modules which require sharing of experiences and learnings, the focus should rather be on the learning component initially. To make a programme successful, Riaz suggested that badge completion becomes part of the individual employee’s performance goals.


Astrid Mehrtens-Haupt has spent the last 18 years of her professional career in a variety of leadership positions on European or global level in the technology sector. She was part of the leadership team of Aptum (previously Cogeco Peer1) where she initially lead the Channel organisation and later the overall EMEA sales organisation.

Prior to joining Cogeco Peer 1, Astrid was Chief of Staff for HP Software WW and EMEA level, responsible for large scale sales & operational initiatives linked to company profitability, restructuring, emerging markets growth and acquisitions.