Q&A with EY’s Kelly Cooper
: What triggered
you to shift from a career in financial
services to consulting?
Cooper: Financial services is an
incredibly exciting field, and my
experience at an investment bank
laid the groundwork for my career
path. Like many millennials, I have
an entrepreneurial mindset and am
attracted to creating, building and
problem-solving. I was drawn to
the innovation opportunity because
it allows me to help drive solutions
for clients in response to disruption.
This is a unique role in a start-up-like environment that provides
entrepreneurial opportunities within a
firm whose commitment to millennials
is reflected in the culture. Helping
build EY’s innovator brand and define
our response to disruption has been the
career opportunity of a lifetime.
: Tell us about the
journey to becoming a millennial
expert and strategist.
Cooper: Watching organizations
struggle with motivating, engaging
and managing millennials firsthand
led me to explore the research behind
the stereotypes. Being a millennial
myself, I didn’t see the myths about
our generation reflected in my peers,
and that inspired me to drive change in
the relationship between generations.
I found myself in a unique position
to represent millennials as hard-
working, passionate and motivated
individuals who crave collaboration
and are extraordinarily conscientious
about the impact we have on our
friends, families, colleagues and
communities. My work has allowed
me to see how underutilized this
generation is, and I developed a sense
of responsibility to leadership and
my peers to break down myths and
demonstrate what we’re capable of.
: How do you help
EY and clients with the challenge of
millennial talent management?
Cooper: EY is intimately concerned
with these issues, as millennials
represent 74 percent of our workforce.
Internally, we are focused on a
cultural transformation that we like
to call Suits+Jeans, a shift that brings
together our credibility in professional
services with more creative and
technology-focused roles. We are now
better able to compete for talent with
Silicon Valley and other innovation
hubs, becoming, in the process, an
employer of choice for my generation.
Our journey has shaped a rich
portfolio of insights, research, and
experience that helps clients better
understand how to design millennial
talent strategies that drive innovation
and new ways of working.
: How are you
bringing your innovation expertise
to the development of millennial
strategies and solutions?
Cooper: As part of our global network
of Wavespace innovation centers,
we are expected to innovate with
clients daily. My first challenge
was to redefine our approach to
delivering millennial research and
strategy. The approach I adopted
reflected my personal experience and
a need to present data and insights
and opportunities to be embraced.
I led the development of an
immersive tool—Millennial Insight
Experience—that brings data to life
and that feels exciting and engaging
for our clients. I use the Millennial
Insight Experience daily, and the
response has been phenomenal.
: What are you
working on now that excites you?
Cooper: It’s been fascinating to
watch the Millennial Insight Tool
have such an impact, resulting in a
new way of presenting content and
capabilities to clients. In response,
our Innovation leadership team
doubled down on their commitment
by asking me to build a series of
immersive experiences. This next
wave is much broader, focusing on
disruptive technology, which has
been really exciting to explore. The
second tool is focused on robotics,
where I combined the success of the
immersive experience approach with
our end-to-end point-of-view on
automation and the dozens of tools
and enablers we are using to deliver
to clients. We’re launching the new
Robotics Experience globally, and
the next in the series currently in
development is blockchain.
Kelly Cooper is an Innovation & Strategy consultant at EY, with expertise in millennial
talent management. She sat down with ALM Intelligence’s Liz DeVito, to discuss her work.